Best sushi in LA: A guide to Little Tokyo's best sushi

Check out the best sushi spots in Little Tokyo, from cheap to old-school, great late night rolls and vegan destinations too.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Dynamite Roll at Shojin

Sushi spots are a dime a dozen in this town—so much so that you'd think it was the local cusine (after the best tacos, of course). When you're craving unagi and uni or hankering for spicy tuna and Dynamite rolls, turn to our list of the best sushi in Little Tokyo... for cheap. No need to shell out those Benjamins for a beautiful cut of chu-toro. From the best Japanese restaurants to the best vegan restaurants, check out these six Downtown spots that offer Little Tokyo's top-notch sushi.

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Conveyor belt sushi: Kula Sushi

Think ramen shops make Little Tokyo go round? Sushi is literally making the rounds at this Japanese Village Plaza kaiten sushi spot. Kula's conveyor belt sushi goes beyond gimmicks with solid, quality sushi. The prices are cheap—each plate stacks up to $2 each—and the pickings are extensive (spicy shrimp tacos, crispy rice with spicy salmon, shrimp avocado rolls and Godzilla rolls, oh my!). While you'll most likely have to queue up, the line goes quickly and nearby shopping and dining options are aplenty (nothing works up an appetite for sushi like mochi or red bean cakes).

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New school: Aburiya Toranoko

This Japanese izakaya offers a modern option in a sea of traditional mom-and-pops. While the menu is undoubtably Japanese (extensive sushi, sashimi, noodle, rice, grill options), the vibe is more of a sleek, sexy lounge with a long menu of libations—sochu, sake and Asian-flavored cocktails—and graffiti on exposed brick walls inside a dimly lit space. The grilled skewers never disappoint, but the sushi rolls are a surprise hit. Start with sushi/sashimi from sweet tamago ($8) to sea bream ($14), then fill up on scallop ($6) and baked crab ($7) rolls. It's not exactly pub grub (or cheap), but it makes for perfect date-night bites.

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Vegan: Shojin Organic & Natural

Shojin is the dining destination for both sushi and animal lovers. This Little Tokyo Shopping Plaza gem is not only vegan but also macrobiotic and gluten-free. But you'd never notice you were eating faux meat or grazing on veggie and grain substitutions from the tasty (and creative) takes on the Dynamite and Dragon rolls (both $12.95), crispy brown rice with spicy "tuna" ($7.50) and baked "crab" roll with tempeh and enoki ($13.95). Add a cup of miso soup ($3.95) and an order of sake (bottles range from $22 to $65), and it's a dinner that anyone can get behind.

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$15 lunch deal: Sushi Gen

While you can always score great-quality sushi and sashimi here at moderate prices (and skip the line by sidling up to the bar), the weekday lunch special is the reason to visit. A colorful and filling sashimi dinner is offered for $26 and for $15 for lunch—a steal. The Honda Plaza storefront's doors open at 11:15am, so come early or be prepared to queue.

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Old school: Sushi Go 55

This neighborhood fixture inside the Little Tokyo Shopping Center—park in the structure and make your way to the third floor—is where locals and those in-the-know drop by for great sushi that won't break the bank. Sit at the long sushi bar for chirashi ($17)—try upgrading to an ikura and uni–topped version ($24)—and other raw fish plates prepared with care and skill. You can't beat the sushi lunch deals from a tempura and sushi lunch for $14 to a sashimi lunch for $16. Cooked highlights from the kitchen include grilled whole amaebi (sweet shrimp, head and all) topped with uni, deep-fried oysters and steamed red snapper head served with ponzu sauce. A daily happy hour (5:30-7pm) gets you $4 beer and half-priced sake.

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Supermarket: Nijiya Market

When lines at Sushi Gen and long waits at Kula have you singing the sushi blues, stop into Japanese Village Plaza's Nijiya market. The pay-off: the selection is big, the prices low and the lines nonexistent. Nigiri combos are neatly presented with fresh, mix-and-match seafood. We love the eight-piece spicy tuna roll ($6.49), shrimp tempura roll ($6.29) and California roll ($5.99)—a steal for less than ten bucks. The best part? You can wander up and down the stocked aisles for traditional snacks, drinks and desserts to whet your appetite and end your meal.

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