By Sandy Driscoll
Exterior of SUGARFISH
SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa
600 West 7th Street (near Grand Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Hours: Monday-Saturday – 11:30am – 10pm
Sunday – 12pm – 9pm
Reservations – Not taken, but diners are seated as promptly as possible
Credit Cards – Yes
Parking – Available nearby
Other locations (see website) in Brentwood, Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica
Video of Nozawa: http://vimeo.com/6035259
I always know for certain that I have had a memorable dining experience when I awaken the following morning and my first pleasant thought is of the meal I enjoyed the day before.
This was the case with my truly extraordinary lunch at SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa at their newest location in downtown Los Angeles. Hands down, it was the best sushi I have ever eaten. Chef Nozawa has created his own perfect style of sushi, the highlight of which is simply the freshest and best fish available, presented in an unadorned, straightforward way. Plating on white vessels, his Ponzu and Shoyu sauces compliment the fish, his rice is soft, loosely packed and warm and his seaweed is of the highest quality. Each dish is brought to the diner immediately after plating by the chef, and meant to be eaten at once. Not 45 seconds later, but immediately! This way, the contrast among the warm rice, cool fish and appropriate sauce is at its peak of taste. The nori is crisp and crunchy to the bite, but remains that way for only short moments, so Nozawa wants you to enjoy it at its peak.
To this end, he does not offer additional sauces (except for homemade soy, which is to be used for dipping only sushi that is not already sauced in the kitchen), additional rice or other extras. There is ginger and wasabi for those who want them. Those are the rules, and his diners would be wise to follow them. His website is particularly informative, especially if you check out the “learn” page.
I have always believed that the best chefs are the ones who place food quality above all else. They know how their cuisine is to be enjoyed and want only for their customers to have an exceptional dining experience. This is not a restaurant for those looking for the ubiquitous “California Roll” or wanting to sit at a sushi bar and chat. Although the menu offers a la carte items, the best way to experience this incredible sushi is to order one of the three “Trust Me” prix fixe offerings, ranging in price from $19.50 to $38. In other words, put yourself in their capable hands.
My dining companion and I enjoyed the “Nozawa”, which consisted of Organic Edamame, Tuna Sashimi, 2 pieces each of Albacore, Salmon, Snapper, Yellowtail, Halibut (all sushi), Toro Hand Roll, Crab Hand Roll and the daily sushi special, which was the large scallop. Finishing with the Uni (an extra a la carte item) we left happy and sated but certainly not stuffed.
Service is pleasant, efficient and timely. A well deserved 16% service charge is added to the bill. The waitstaff is adept at explaining the concept of Nozawa’s style of sushi. I guarantee that if you’re looking for a premier sushi dining experience, try SUGARFISH and you will be delighted.
One more thing……….as noted here recently, the Michelin Guide has ceased publishing a guide for Los Angeles, due to lack of sales. According to director Jean-Luc Naret, “The people in LA are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit”. Monsieur Naret is resigning his post at the end of the year. Perhaps he would care to visit Los Angeles and truly assess our restaurant scene. The success of high quality restaurants such as SUGARFISH is proof positive that Los Angeles is indeed the proud home of many foodies!
Tuna Sashimi (Big Eye)
Albacore and Salmon…..here the albacore is already sauced; the salmon may be dipped in Nozawa’s homemade soy sauce
The day’s special – Large Scallops
SUGARFISH insignia on the walkway outside the restaurant
Beautiful Phalaenopsis inside the dining room