We're going to take a little detour from my San Francisco trip because last night I discovered every sushi lover's dream and I want you to have the weekend to experience it for yourselves!
When you think of LA sushi, a few things probably come to mind...elaborate and confusing menu's, modernized uber-chic decor, patrons with self-imposed celebrity mentality and the list goes on...
What a breath of fresh air to dine at a sushi restaurant that is just as beautiful but simply focused on pure, fresh, unpretentious, straight to the point high grade sushi...and at prices that won't break the bank! That is SUGARFISH in a nutshell.
Kelli and I visited their third and newest location in Downtown Los Angeles yesterday and had the pleasure of dining with one of the masterminds behind this incredible little sushi powerhouse, Lele Massimini. It was interesting to hear first hand all of the intricate details that go into turning out a product at the level SUGARFISH offers. From daily hand-picked fresh fish selections by none other than the infamous "Sushi Nazi" Chef Nozawa of Sushi Nozawa in Studio City (another must-try!), to the meticulous process of guaranteeing top quality rice throughout the day and the decision to keep the menu simple, upholding the "Trust Me" style of sushi and not cloud it with 100 different takes on a California roll.
We did just that and "trusted" Lele to choose our selections for dinner. We readied our palates with their Organic Edamame and Iced Green Tea (considering I drank 4 glasses...it was awesome! I like that it didn't have a weird aftertaste which I notice in a lot of iced green teas and therefore never order them). I had prepared my little saucer of soy sauce to enjoy with the edamame but as it turned out, each pod was packed with the perfect amount of light salty flavor, I hadn't dipped one piece into the soy sauce...good sign of things to come!
As Willy Wonka has a chocolate factory, what followed turned out to be our peek into sushi utopia...just without all the creepy little orange people! Each plate comes out as soon as it is prepared, so that guests are able to enjoy the food at its freshest. First up was the Big Eye Tuna Sashimi with scallions and ponzu sauce. Ponzu is my all-time favorite sushi sauce, it's citrus-based and vinegary with an acidulous flavor that pairs well with raw fish. Ironically, the first thing out of my mouth after tasting this was "it just tastes so fresh!". I can't stress it enough, the simple ingredients make the fish really stand out. No crazy mix-in's needed (or wanted!).
Then came the sushi (yippee!): Albacore with scallions and ponzu, Snapper with chili ponzu, and Salmon with sesame seeds. Who knew sushi could be so smooth and truly melt-in-your-mouth!
Now remember everyone, when you eat sushi at SUGARFISH, you are under strict instruction not to dip any dish served with sauce into soy...so don't even think about it! (No seriously...it says it on the menu along with a few additional tips including eating hand rolls the second they are put in front of you when the seaweed is at its best). I love this little "how-to" guide because it shows you how to get the most out of your meal!
Next we were served the Halibut with yuzu ponzu (the yuzu gives it an extra kick!) and the Yellowtail with a squeeze of lemon.
The focus on quality is not only in their fish...wait until you taste the rice! There's just something about SUGARFISH's rice...it's light, airy, and takes the sushi to another level! You absolutely must try it...trust me you will be able to tell the difference immediately.
I could not believe this would be my first time trying a hand roll!! I was always turned off by all of the carrots, cucumber etc hanging out of the hand rolls that I normally see my friends eat. This was completely different and straightforward...just seaweed, rice, and fish. Our first was the the Toro Hand Roll followed by the insanely amazing Crab Hand Roll filled with Boston Blue Crab. From the first bite, you can taste the freshness of the fish. While eating the Crab Hand Roll I kept getting flashbacks of my trip to San Francisco and all of the shellfish at Fisherman's Wharf!
The daily special was the Scallops with yuzu ponzu sauce. The most tender scallops I have ever tasted!
It's also great to know that each item you are consuming is healthy and good for you. From the calorie count to the level of mercury, no detail is left unanswered. Funny that Lele mentioned this clever addition and the importance of displaying this information on the back of the menu because we got to chatting with the girl sitting at the table next to us and she said exactly that...she likes bringing her clients to SUGARFISH and comes several times a week because she feels good knowing exactly what she is eating and is confident in the consistent quality of the food.
Albacore Belly was our finishing touch...and I'm not going to lie, I was a little afraid of this one!...but Kelli had rave reviews so I dove right in and ended up loving it as much as everything else in our fabulous meal (At this point we were batting 10 for 10 so I probably should have expected that!). Topped off our dinner with a little Nigori Sake and we were set!
SUGARFISH is for people that truly appreciate and enjoy the finest quality sushi...$1,000 pumps not required! I would feel great whether I was dressed to the nines or popping by in my jeans and a t-shirt. So sayonara to all the touted sushi "hot spots" in LA because I've just entered into a monogamous relationship w/ SUGARFISH and it's getting pretty serious!
600 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90017; Marina Del Rey: 4722 1/4 Admiralty Way Marina Del Rey, CA 90292; Brentwood: 11640 W. San Vicente Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90049