Ask which city has the best sushi in the country, and any toro-loving sushi fiend will tell you: LA, duh. In Valley strip malls, Little Tokyo plazas and swanky Beverly Hills restaurants, you'll find some of the freshest fish in town, perfected by sushi chefs who have practiced their craft for years. This isn't a cheap indulgence, though there are some affordable options around the city (it's hard to beat Sushi Gen's $17 lunch special). Still, exploring these Japanese restaurants and sushi bars is a worthwhile splurge. For the best cuts of mackerel, fatty tuna, salmon and more, check out our favorite sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.
Guide to LA's best sushi restaurants
Urasawa belongs squarely at the top of LA's sushi catalogue, though it'll cost you a pretty penny to dine here. Flown in daily, the fish is prepared by chef Hiroyuki Urasawa (who studied under the great Masa Takayama) and one assistant. Meals stretch to 25 artfully prepared courses; the experience is incredible—and incredibly expensive (prices vary, but expect to spend around $400-$500 per person). Edible gold flakes, foie gras, wagyu beef—this is high-end sushi at its finest. Booking is imperative (there are no walk-ins), and an early-evening slot is best.
You won't see a sign outside of Go's Mart indicating its presence—rather, you'll see the word "sushi" in large lettering, which is sort of an understatement. Yes, there is sushi inside this small Canoga Park strip mall, but it is sushi topped with 24k gold leaf flakes and a sprinkling of truffle oil. Two tables and a 10-seat sushi bar are where diners come for outstanding cuts of fish from chef Go, who opened this place in 1997. Don't ask what's good—"Everything is good," says Go—but after starting with a complimentary block of Chinese broccoli, you'd be wise to ask for toro. The plump tuna comes topped with the aforementioned gold flakes, and just the right amount of wasabi is tucked into Go's exceptional rice. Japanese eel is slick with sweet unagi sauce and slivers of lemon rind on top, while a cut of meaty butterfish comes decorated with truffle oil and a hint of spice.
Shunji almost looks like it could belong in the Shire—with its circular frame and low ceiling, Bilbo Baggins would feel right at home. Not so Shire-like is the fantastic sushi inside this Pico Boulevard restaurant, including the well-curated omakase available at lunch and dinner. But first, ask about the fried oysters, which come four to an order and will convert even the oyster averse among us with its soft, pillowy exterior shielding a juicy helping of mollusk inside. The lunch omakase special—seven pieces for $23—might have you trying scallop and salmon, blue fin tuna and mackerel, flying fish and more. Chef Shunji Nakao knows exactly how much wasabi to hide in each scoop of rice, and when your plate has been picked clean, a steaming cup of green tea helps ease your way into the outside world.
You could say that the Netflix documentary Chef's Table helped shine a spotlight on n/naka, but the Palms restaurant was already on the map, front and center. Chef and owner Niki Nakayama is a former protégé of the legendary Morihiro Onodera (once the chef and owner of Mori Sushi), though Nakayama focuses her talent on kaiseki, a classical style of Japanese cooking that dictates a specific progression of textures, temperatures, tastes and seasonal ingredients. You'll find either a 13-course modern menu ($185) or a 13-course vegetarian menu ($160) at n/naka, and both can be paired with wine for $85. The menus change daily, but there is always something to delight in: a glass filled with sea urchin and lobster in a bath of chilled dashi, maybe, or a seared diver-harvested scallop cuddled next to a warm okra pod.
This tiny Toluca Lake sushi restaurant has been flying under the radar for quite some time now, but we're not sure why because the sushi here is among the city's best. Start with some truffle edamame, then work your way through top-quality fish, expertly made rice and impeccable service, whether you're having nigiri or rolls. Be sure to order the lime roll, a study of pure balance.
With a $15 omakase lunch menu, a quality sushi meal at Echigo is actually attainable for most people. Five pieces of nigiri and a hand roll will fill you up mid-day, while a dinner visit, though more expensive, leaves diners just as fulfilled. If ordering a la carte, be sure to ask for the monkfish liver, a foie gras-like piece that almost melts in your mouth. The nondescript storefront and bare-bones interior belies the real craftmanship that takes place here, so walk right in, sit down at the sushi bar and don't look back.
As with most outstanding sushi restaurants in the Valley, Okumura can be found in a sizeable strip mall, tucked into a back corner near a Starbucks and a beauty salon. Chef Ryoto Ukumura previously worked at Sushi Zo, Koi and Katana before opening his namesake restaurant, where affordable sushi, sashimi and rolls are composed with the utmost care. Traditional cuts of kawahagi—trigger fish—are fattened up with decadent slices of liver, while amberjack sushi is treated to a beautiful lime and salt crust. Hand rolls include a negitoro version, a mixture of fatty tuna and spring onion wrapped in a crisp seaweed wrap. For a more personalized experience, pick a spot at the welcoming sushi bar; otherwise, there's plenty of group seating on the outskirts of the restaurant.
Yamakase is invitation-only, but before you stomp your feet in protest, know this: you can simply request an invitation on their website. Once accepted, a truly incredible omakase experience awaits. Behind the eight-seat sushi bar, chef and owner Kiyoshiro Yamamoto skillfully prepares course after course (sometimes more than 20): jamón Iberico topped with Osetra caviar, orange clam with shiso, chawanmushi with truffle butter, neatly cubed jellyfish in a soup spoon of cold sesame broth and a tomato wedge—chewy, slippery, cool, refreshing and absolutely delicious. There’s no corkage fee, so diners generally bring their own bottles of wine and sake (and they usually share with the chef). But for those that don't BYO, there’s beer and sake by the glass or bottle.
When filtering through the plethora of high-end sushi restaurants around LA, many turn to this acclaimed, Michelin-starred establishment in the Valley for ultra-fresh seafood items like kanpachi sashimi and pearl oysters. Nevermind that it's located in a strip mall—Asanebo is a mecca for exotic, inventive pieces: monkfish with grapefruit drizzle, perhaps, or steamed firefly squid. Chef Tatsuya Nakao (brother to Shunji Nakao, owner of Shunji Sushi) crafts a few beautiful omakase options, but if you can't make that kind of commitment (monetary or otherwise), stop by for lunch and order individual pieces.
Nestled in Downtown's Little Tokyo neighborhood since 1980, Sushi Gen has turned into a cult favorite for LA's sushi aficionados. The main draw: a $17 lunch special. Glut your taste buds on fresh halibut, fatty tuna, sea urchin and oysters at this top-notch sushi spot, and be sure to order the scallop—a favorite among regulars. The only downside is the popularity of this place: lines can be massive, and you may feel a tad rushed by the staff who are eyeballing the hungry diners on your heels.
Servers are prone to overdo it when it comes to proper sushi-eating "etiquette," but all is forgiven once chef and co-owner Keizo Seki's artfully prepared squid noodles, bluefin tuna, sweet shrimp and golden eye mackerel have made their way into your mouth. With locations in both Culver City and Downtown, Sushi Zo only serves omakase, with fresh fish delivered that same morning. You'll find squid marinated in truffle oil, monkfish liver, sweet shrimp, black sesame tofu, and more as the meal continues to march on, with every course as rich, tantalizing and expertly prepared as the last one.
Known for its power lunch prowess and celebrity pull, Hamasaku has maintained its popularity with a solid, steadfast sushi program on the Westside. A relatively recent renovation lightened up the once-dim space with warm wood panels and clean lines. The menu features a selection of skewers and small plates to start, but nigiri and sashimi are the real stars here. Omakase options range from $55-$75, and with chef Yoya Takahashi at the helm, you're in good hands. Barracuda, snapper, big eye tuna and more are all available, but Hamasaku is also known for its shirako—cod milt, that is, or in more descriptive terms, cod sperm. It's a creamy delicacy that's only weird when you think about it too much. Don't think about it too much.
With locations all over town—Brentwood, Hollywood, Studio City and Downtown, to name a few—Kazunori Nozawa's mini-empire favors straightforward, no-nonsense sushi over the usual 'Dragon' and 'Rainbow' rolls. The emphasis is on trust here, as exemplified by Nozawa's trademark omakase-style menus, of which there are three: Trust Me, Trust Me/Lite and the Nozawa. Each menu features the best fish of the day, accompanied by perfectly warm rice and some of the best homemade ponzu sauce in LA. You can order a la carte, though you'd be in the minority. Better to just trust Nozawa's instinct, and give yourself over to top-notch sushi.
"No photos! No California rolls! No noodles!" There are a lot of signs posted around Hama telling you what not to do, but here's what you should do: get here early. Or at least be prepared for a wait. The tiny resturant in Little Tokyo has around 20 seats and fills up fast. Once you're seated, dive in and start ordering (first-timers can always ask for a menu and mark down their picks). Eel and Santa Barbara uni are two excellent choices, while the blue crab hand roll avoids some common pitfalls (too much mayonaise, soggy seaweed) and is instead light, crisp and filling. It can be slightly intimidating for newbies here—the service isn't exactly warm—but order with confidence, take your time and enjoy the chefs' handiwork.
You'll be shelling out plenty of dough at this celebrated sushi restaurant in West LA, but for a good reason: the omakase here is a 20+ piece experience that borders on sushi nirvana. Owner Mori Onodera no longer prepares the fish here, but the quality has not been compromised. You'll find homemade tofu and soy sauce, along with beautiful cuts of toro, hamachi, sea pike and more. An ethereal scoop of tofu mousse often finishes off the meal, though fans of the more traditional tomago will find that at Mori, too.
Trips to Koreatown for dinner may be mostly reserved for KBBQ, but consider Noshi Sushi the next time you find yourself hungry in this neighborhood. Chef Shogo Noshi opened a small, 30-seat restaurant in 1983, gained a considerable following and moved to his current location to accomodate a growing clientele. While traditional sushi is offered here, the occasional spider roll or California roll is also available. Don't let that turn you off, though—buttery pieces of salmon, rich eel, plump scallop and more are just as good as the more expensive spots around town. Just remember to hit the ATM first—Noshi only accepts cash.
Located on the second floor of a nondescript plaza on Sunset Strip, Sushi Park is where Angelenos in the know (and the occasional Hollywood celeb) get their sushi fix. Grab a seat at the sushi bar for so-fresh-you-can-taste-the-Pacific omakase. The chef will take you through multiple courses of nigiri, sashimi—sorry, no rolls here—and small plates for a hefty price. Note the limited opening hours for lunch and dinner (Saturday seats evening diners only).
Hear the name Tsujita and you'll probably think of the popular ramen spot on Sawtelle. But Sushi Tsujita, another Sawtelle triumph, warrants just as much attention. Chef Shigeru Kato leads the way here, offering omakase and a la carte sushi in an elegant setting. An omakase meal ranges from $140 to $180, and includes upwards of 15 courses. Pair your pieces of snapper, tuna, mackerel and more with beer, wine or sake.