It would be hard to argue that any other U.S. city could surpass Los Angeles as the sushi capital of the country. Birthplace of the gateway California roll and home to celebrity sushi chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa, LA’s got true game-changer status when it comes to craveable Japanese bites. It’s the best city in America to sit back, put yourself in the hands of a talented sushi chef and embrace the Japanese term “omakase,” which means “I’ll leave it to you.” Though this list is just scratching the surface of all of the city’s must-try sushi spots, see our top 11 picks for your dining to-do list.
The high-end sushi world’s version of a speakeasy, Yamakase is invitation-only omakase that’s worth the $200+ price tag. The exclusive restaurant is set inside a former gelato shop, and those who are able to snag one of its 10 seats nightly are treated to a four-hour omakase odyssey by notorious chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto (known fondly to regulars as “Yama-san”). The undeniable star of the show: a Kusshi oyster shooter with truffle-infused quail egg, uni, and blue crab. Oh, and if that’s not awesome enough for you, Yamakase is B.Y.O.B.
Midori Sushi Encino, Glendale, Studio City, and Sherman Oaks
For the man who wants to try “one of everything,” meet your new happy place. Though not run by a top chef or known for pristine omakase, Midori Sushi makes the list for its famed all-you-can-eat menu—filled with favorites like salmon skin salad, Cajun-style ono and albacore sushi, and spicy scallop rolls. Clocking in at $28.95/person, the menu provides a reasonable outlet for satisfying one’s sushi craving en masse.
Sasabune Beverly Hills and Brentwood
The essence of omakase? Two words: “Trust Me.” That’s the motto at Sasabune, where affordable omakase rules and discipline evokes devotion. Meals are meticulously orchestrated, and chef Nobi Kusuhara’s background as a fish importer ensures only the freshest fare. On a budget? Experience Sasabune by trying the Omakase Lunch ($35) or Omakase Don ($25) menus, and be sure to order the blue crab hand roll.
Urasawa Beverly Hills
Deemed the second most expensive restaurant in the country, Urasawa is undoubtedly a splurge—and that’s an understatement. It’s also highly regimented, as chef Hiro Urasawa requires diners to abide by a strict “10-second rule” when courses are served. (A shame, as dishes like the signature sashimi sampling atop a hand-carved ice sculpture deserve ample time to be admired.) But thanks to decadent dishes, luxe presentation, and rare ingredients, one quickly discovers why “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio once dubbed the elite Urasawa a sushi “samurai.”
Sushi Ike Hollywood
Straightforward, fresh, and simply delicious, the food speaks for itself at Sushi Ike. Many of the dishes are served sans soy sauce, and the focus is kept largely on nigiri and sashimi. Regulars rave about the tender grilled octopus appetizer, and one taste of the fatty tuna sashimi will have you yelling, “Toro, toro!”
Hamasaku West Los Angeles
There’s no better place for the proverbial power lunch than elegant Hamasaku, owned by industry titan Michael Ovitz. Even the sushi rolls give a playful nod to Hollywood heavyhitters—case in point: the “Lourd,” a jalapeno-tinged spicy tuna roll named for esteemed CAA head Bryan Lourd.
Zo Downtown LA
Sushi diehards will be drawn to this downtown dining destination, which LA Times critic Jonathan Gold dubbed “purist omakase sushi.” A younger sibling to the also popular Sushi Zo in West LA, this modern restaurant provides ample bang for the buck with 30+-course omakase. Don’t leave without trying the Uni Ika Somen (squid noodles and uni sprinkled with truffle salt) and obscenely fresh scallops.
Matsuhisa Beverly Hills
Arguably the godfather of sushi in Los Angeles (and beyond), Nobu Matsuhisa is the brilliant mind behind this mothership of his ever-expanding empire. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior, as the restaurant is known to attract an A-list clientele including Charlize Theron, David Beckham, and Mark Wahlberg. With a distinctive style of Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine he once modestly described as “simply ingredients plus umami,” Matsuhisa continues to wow patrons with exceptional dishes like miso-marinated black cod and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno.
Katsu-ya Northridge, Studio City and Encino
In a city highly driven by appearances, sushi joints seem to be one of the rare exceptions, as many of LA’s best can be found in nondescript strip malls. Chief among them is Katsu-ya, long considered a powerhouse in the city’s congested sushi scene. Though diners grumble about the interminable wait times, the restaurant makes up for it by combining fine dining quality with a refreshing down-to-earth approach—not to mention lobster dynamite that is, indeed, dynamite.
Nozawa Bar at SUGARFISH Beverly Hills
Tucked away inside SUGARFISH, Nozawa Bar caters to those who seek a reverent yet adventurous omakase experience. Get up close and personal with chefs Kazunori Nozawa (famously known as the “sushi Nazi”) and Osamu Fujita, as you savor signature dishes like fresh Santa Barbara uni nigiri and monkfish liver mousse at this intimate offshoot of one of Beverly Hills’ hottest spots.
Sushi Dan Studio City
Want to watch the game over chopsticks? With three big-screen HDTVs and killer lunch specials, this buzzy sportsbar-meets-sushi-den is the place. (Bonus: it’s a favorite of young starlets like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Brenda Song.) Menu musts include the Paparazzi Roll, salmon sashimi, and California rolls topped with baked baby lobster and dynamite sauce.