I remember the first time someone asked me to eat sushi. Being from Tennessee, the only fish I ever ran into was a McDonald Filet of Fish sandwich and fried catfish – so there was NO WAY I was eating any raw fish. Well, after one glass of wine I was still not convinced, but after the second, I decided to try the cooked stuff.
That was many, many years ago. Since then, I have become a great lover of sushi. When we bought our house in the Hamptons I was shocked at the lack of sushi restaurants given that Montauk, the best fishing on Long Island, is only 10 miles away. So each time we return to Los Angeles my first stop is to have sushi. I have eaten sushi in many places on the east coast, including New York City, and nothing comes close to the number and quality of sushi that is available in Los Angeles. Everyone has their favorites, but here are two of mine that are at different ends of the scale, but well worth a try.
There is a small place in Beverly Hills, Yu & Mi, that is run by Ted and his wife, Yumi. Yu & Mi is a VERY busy place, especially at night. This sushi place has something for everyone – creative rolls with amazing sauces to omikase for the real sushi afficianto. I always sit at the sushi bar since that is where you see the real art of the sushi chef, Ted. Ted is a refreshing change from the normal sushi chef that wants you in and out of their restaurants within 15 minutes. My favorites are Japanese Scallop with fresh wasabi – a real tear jerker, and the MJ and Nicky rolls. The Toro and Albacore with Jalapeno sauce sushi will melt in your mouth! I recommend making a reservation for either lunch or dinner and though you may have to wait a few extra minutes, the sushi is incredible and well worth the wait. P.S. Yu & Mi is so successful, that they are not open on weekends because Ted prefers to golf!
My new favorite place is a new concept by Nozawa, Sugar Fish. The first time I went to Sugar Fish it was because I was desperate for sushi on a Sunday. I had seen Sugar Fish near our house in Brentwood and decided to check it out. I left totally unsatisfied and resolved not to go back. I was used to the creative menu at Yu & Mi and felt that Sugar Fish concept of “Trust Me” wasn’t for me. However, there was something that I couldn’t place that was different. After several visits I realized it was the rice – warm, moist and wonderful. I was talking with the staff at Sugar Fish about the rice and they told me that Nozawa’s philosophy is that anyone can cut fish for sushi, but only a master can create a rice that is worthy of the fish – he is right. This is a real purist menu, but I guarantee you, it is certainly a winner, many times over. Sugar Fish prepares everything “to order” so that each patron will have the experience that Nozawa intend for you to have. Each sushi or roll is presented with the rice at the perfect temperature to be eaten immediately to truly experience the concept Nozawa has for each diner.
The Albacore sushi is the most buttery with amazing texture and the homemade ponzu sauce is something that you will be looking for a big bowl of. The Salmon sushi is just a dream..the amazing rice with the perfectly toasted sesame seeds make this one of the best pieces of sushi I have ever had. When it comes to hand rolls, you MUST eat the roll as soon as it arrives or the else the warm rice will soften the crisp seaweed and make it chewy, so the server encourages you to begin eating immediately when the roll is served. The blue crab roll is my favorite, of which I can never get enough!
As I write this, I was never a fan of Nozawa and did not like my experience at his place in Studio City where my friend Molly and I felt like we were in the principal’s office and not allowed to speak or order for fear of offending the great one. However, he has found a secret for creating the sushi experience at Sugar Fish that will leave you wanting more. What is so incredible about Sugar Fish is the simplicity and commitment to his vision of the art of sushi.
So, when looking for great sushi, no matter where you go in LA, you will find the best in the West!