Food & Drink

The Best Sushi in Los Angeles

Published On 11/19/2013 Published On 11/19/2013
sushi bowl at Hamasaku
Hamasaku | Aliza J. Sokolow

There's no food group that gets Angelenos more worked up than sushi; everyone has an opinion that is TOTALLY right about the best place in town to eat raw fish on rice, which is why we've risked Jeremy Piven-levels of mercury poisoning to bring you the definitive list of the best sushi in town.

Flickr/Phu Son

Hama Sushi

Downtown

Sushi Gen usually gets all the Little Tokyo love, but we’re firm believers that time can play a factor in quality -- and Gen takes an eternity thanks to that massive, unrelenting line outside. Hama, however, is usually a pretty quick seat, and the traditional sushi (and baked yellowtail collar!) is second to none. Just make sure you ask what’s off-menu... and then ask again. Sometimes they don’t believe you want to eat it. You do.

Kiriko

West Los Angeles

This nondescript Little Osaka hole in the wall has been a longtime favorite, not just because its fish is unbelievably fresh, but the prices are, too: at lunch, for under $20, you can get a plateful of nigiri and rolls, which means even if you’re hungry for more you can double up the order for less money than it would usually cost for fish of this quality.

Sugarfish

Sugarfish

Studio City (& other locations)

It’s almost become a cliche to claim Sugarfish as some of the best sushi in LA, but it’s true: when "Sushi Nazi" Nozawa closed his namesake restaurant on Ventura and launched the chain, it was a genius move -- his customers now get to enjoy signature dishes like his sauce-soaked tuna sashimi and the crazy-delicious blue crab hand roll, stuffed with perfectly warm rice, and he gets to lay in a pool of money somewhere sipping on sake, and all of LA’s the better for it.

Asakuma: The Demae Sushi

Beverly Hills (& other locations)

Not to be confused with the greasy (but also delicious) Chinese place Asakuma Rice, these delivery guys -- in Beverly Hills, Marina Del Rey, and Santa Monica -- may not be, like, better than non-delivery, but they are the best at what they do: somehow actually getting the fish and rice to you in good shape and tasting fresh, with hand roll-wrapping seaweed that's crisp, not chewy.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Q Sushi

Downtown

Yeah, it’s a wallet-buster. But it still may be dollar-for-dollar the best sushi in town. Master Chef Hiro came to LA from Japan with the goal of recreating as high-quality an experience as he had delivered in Tokyo, and his fish (from brilliantly briny mackerel to melt-in-your-mouth salmon) is exceptional -- and that’s not even mentioning his rice, which is far more al dente than you’ve been grown to expect, and that much more flavorful for it.

Iroha

Studio City

Located in a converted house on Ventura Blvd (of course), this sushi-war survivor’s been holding it down for decades, which means it’s seen trends come and go, and the menu’s all the better for it: current on-trend dishes like yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño are among the best versions in the city, their classic nigiri is always flavorful, and they’ve got creative rolls that are smart rather than just stuffed with sauce.

Kevin Eats

Sushi Kimagure Ike

Pasadena

What, you thought we’d publish a best-sushi list without one of Ike-san’s restaurants on it? Never. The namesake of the also-excellent Sushi Ike in Hollywood is now found behind the bar here, which is what pushes it to elite status: his take on his signature seared salmon right away and grilled octopus are always worth getting from the man himself.

Sasabune

Beverly Hills

Piece-by-piece, Sasabune has always been excellent. But keeping price in mind, the bang-for-your-buck is the omakase, which -- for $50 -- offers a game-changing, gut-filling menu with fish on par with any of the fancier places (Nozawa Bar, Zo, Matsuhisa, etc.) that'll charge you at least three times as much.

N/Naka

N/Naka

Culver City

It’s not a sushi restaurant, per-se, and reservations are nearly impossible to get, but this beautiful set-menu-only restaurant (which blew up thanks to both impeccable food and a featured episode of Netflix’s hit series Chef’s Table) does include a sushi course or two; every bite’s immaculate, naturally, and, when you’ll leave, you’ll say a little prayer that someday chef Niki Nakayama actually does an all-sushi place of her own.

KazuNori

KazuNori

Downtown

Wait, Sugarfish is on this list already -- does it deserve two spots, really? Yes, it does: the group's handroll-only downtown outpost Kazunori is not just one of the best sushi spots in LA. but it’s also one of the most genius concepts in town. The spot is an extremely efficient, affordable lunch, dinner, and takeout spot that’ll set you back no more than $20 and (if the line’s short) 20 minutes. Brilliant.

Kevin Eats

Nozomi

Torrance

For a part of town that’s got such a huge Japanese population, it’s sort of surprising there aren’t more top-level sushi spots (that said, you can’t throw a baseball without amazing soba, or ramen, or izakaya food). But Nozomi’s a local favorite, and for good reason: they only serve ultra-fresh, traditional seafood, including uni straight from Santa Barbara that’s submerged in salt to maintain its flavor and a ton of fish straight from Japan, presented with unusual toppings, marinades, and infusions made with killer technique that take it from a neighborhood restaurant to one worth traveling for.

Aliza J. Sokolow

Hamasaku

Santa Monica

Tucked in the corner of a strip mall (natch) is this beloved roll-zone, as noted for its celebrity clientele as it is for its food. That's a shame: it’s consistently great, with the rolls its known for not just over-the-top but smartly over-the-top (The Lourd: spicy tuna. Avocado. Tempura flakes. Spicy rice. Mango. Jalapeño sauce. Tell me that doesn’t sound good.) and a chef who takes his omakase very, very seriously.

Hirozen

Mid-Wilshire

Tucked in the corner of a strip mall (again, natch), everyone who does make it to this longtime spot leaves talking about melt-in-your-mouth salmon, perfectly pickled cucumbers, and an omakase that splits the difference between cooked dishes like ground shrimp-stuffed zucchini flowers and their perfectly proportioned nigiri.

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Jeff Miller probably-definitely has mercury poisoning. It was worth it. See more pics at @jeffmillerla on instagram and @thrillistla on Twitter.

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1. Hama Sushi 347 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

This tiny, nondescript joint serves up ridiculously good fish fresh from the market, creating a menu that defies its hole-in-the-wall atmosphere and makes it a gem in the Downtown area.

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2. Kiriko Sushi 11301 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

This Little Osaka spot delivers much-lauded sushi dishes with standouts that include shirako, mackerel, and in-season sea snail. And as if the interior decor weren't convincing enough, all seafood dishes are freshly cut by chefs skilled in traditional techniques, so you'll be able to confirm the authenticity by taste as well.

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3. SugarFish 4722 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 (Marina Del Rey)

Kazunori "Sushi Nazi" Nozawa takes the food he perfected at his namesake restaurant and makes it more accessible to the masses without sacrificing an iota of quality. That quality's ensured by forgoing flashy rolls and fusion dishes in favor simple set preparations -- you choose from three set menus ranging from small to large-ish, and while a la carte items can be ordered on top of that, if you pick the right size and trust the master, you really won't need them.

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4. Asakuma 11769 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 (Santa Monica)

Designed for delivery service, this sushi restaurant eschews stereotypical pre-made sloppiness for fresh, made-to-order service. If you're a regular sushi diner, consider ordering your favorites from home, including options like salmon, spicy tuna, and shrimp.

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5. Q Sushi 521 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

Master Chef Hiro came to LA from Japan with the goal of recreating as high-quality an experience as he had delivered in Tokyo. His fish (from brilliantly briny mackerel to melt-in-your-mouth salmon) is exceptional, along with his rice, which is far more al dente than you’ve been grown to expect. Omakase-only, Q Sushi features 20 courses of Hiro's choice every night.

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6. Iroha Sushi of Tokyo 12953 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

Located in a converted house on Ventura Blvd, this sushi-war survivor’s been holding it down for decades. Offering both trendy dishes (yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño) and Japanese standards (such as bento and tempura), it's no wonder that Iroha has stood the test of time. Be sure to try spicy miso and spicy tuna on crispy spice. The nigiri, too, is highly praised.

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7. Sushi Kimagure Ike 220 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105 (Pasadena)

The namesake of the equally excellent Sushi Ike in Hollywood is now found behind the bar here, which is what pushes it to elite status: Ike-san's take on his signature seared salmon right away and grilled octopus are always worth getting from the man himself.

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8. Sushi Sasabune 11917 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 (Beverly Hills)

This Westside mainstay serves up a game-changing and belly-filling omakase for minimal green, with fish that compares to some of the priciest establishments in town.

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9. n/naka 3455 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034 (Culver City)

Niki Nakayama's tiny Culver City spot serves a traditional kaiseki set menu. The 13-course meals are the Japanese equivalent of haute cuisine, with each course revolving around a different technique and ingredient (some ingredients are steamed, others are served sashimi-style). N/Naka is an essential spot for LA foodies, and thanks to Nakayama's appearance on the wildly popular Netflix show Chef's Table, it's reached national fame, too.

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10. KazuNori | The Original Handroll Bar 421 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

The Sugarfish guys bring you this insanely casual handroll-only spot, which's great for quick lunches or drive-by dinners.

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11. Nozomi 1757 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

Nozomi’s a local favorite, and for good reason: they only serve ultra-fresh, traditional seafood, including uni straight from Santa Barbara that’s submerged in salt to maintain its flavor and a ton of fish straight from Japan, presented with unusual toppings, marinades, and infusions made with killer technique that take it from a neighborhood restaurant to one worth traveling for.

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12. Hamasaku 11043 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 (Westwood)

This Westwood sushi spot combines sophisticated and traditional Japanese flavors with Californian twists in an elegant and welcoming space. Tucked in the corner of a strip mall is this beloved roll-zone, as noted for its celebrity clientele as it is for its food. The rolls are deliciously over-the-top (The Lourd: spicy tuna, avocado, tempura flakes, spicy rice, mango and Jalapeño sauce. Tell me that doesn’t sound good.), and the chef takes his omakase very, very seriously.

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13. Hirozen 8385 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Tucked in the corner of a strip mall (again, natch), everyone who does make it to this longtime spot leaves talking about melt-in-your-mouth salmon, perfectly pickled cucumbers, and an omakase that splits the difference between cooked dishes like ground shrimp-stuffed zucchini flowers and their perfectly proportioned nigiri.

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