Outside of Japan, LA is the place to be for the best sushi. The city is littered with sushi bars from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley. LA’s signature styles of sushi range from the artistic California fusion to the traditional minimalist. For a taste of elevated sushi that is more art than sustenance, follow this guide to the best sushi in LA.
Sushi is not just a meal. It’s a dining experience, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Urasawa in Beverly Hills. The tiny nine-seat sushi bar may not be much to look at from a design standpoint, but none of that really matters, as your eyes will never leave Chef Hiro Urasawa as he prepares each delicate and extravagant course of the kaiseki in front of you. Between the whispered voices of the other diners and the fluid motion of Chef Hiro’s hands, you feel as if you’re watching a conductor presiding over an orchestra. Each plate you receive—from the medley of sashimi perched on a hand-carved ice block, to a spoon delicately topped with Kobe beef tartare and Russian caviar—is as beautiful to look at as it tastes. Cleanse your palate with a sip of cold sake as you watch and wait for each work of art to emerge. The symphony ends in a sweet finale of sesame ice cream topped with paper-thin shaved truffles and gold flakes.
Some of the best sushi in LA is served “omakase” style, which means “the chef’s choice,” and that is exactly what you get at Sushi Sasabune. When you step inside, you’re greeted by the whiteboard that tells you everything you need to know: “No California Roll. No Spicy Tuna Roll.” Settle into your seats and let your chef lead you on your journey. The omakase begins with sashimi. The artistry of each plate is minimal, but each piece of mackerel and bluefin tuna melts in your mouth. Sip on a tall, amber glass of Kirin as you move on to the nigiri. Served in pairs, each plate the chef sets in front of you, from halibut to black miso cod, is better than the last. The sushi chef is happy to school you in the fine art of eating sushi and will let you know exactly which pieces require soy sauce and which don’t. Avoid a sushi faux pas, and always dip sparingly, fish side down. The full course rounds off with a blue crab hand roll that’s an explosion of fresh flavor. Finish the evening with a refreshing bowl of citrusy yuzu sorbet.
The best seat in the house at any great sushi restaurant is at the bar where you can watch a master at work. Though those plush white couches at the tables are tempting, grab a seat at the bar and watch the chef dish up Katsuya’s inventive mix of Japanese cuisine and California flair. Before you even have a chance to peruse the menu, your senses are permeated by the bold, minimalistic interior designed by Philippe Starck. Peel your gaze away from the giant eyes and red lips that adorn the wall to order an assortment of dishes to share. The signature crispy rice with spicy tuna is a must to start. Don’t forget the drinks, which are equally exotic and colorful as the dishes. Try a light and refreshing watermelon cucumber mojito, or spice things up with the burning mandarin, which is topped with a slice of jalapeno. As the plates of pink salmon sashimi dotted in caviar, and super toro topped with foie gras are placed in front of you, you can’t help noting that it’s almost too beautiful too eat—but of course you do. The tender fish melts in your mouth as the flavors play a song for your palate. It’s no wonder this place is famous for its celebrity clientele. This is the definition of rock-star sushi.