The Best Sushi Only LA Locals Know

By Sheri Winters of Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
October 26, 2012 | Santa Monica, United States
The Best Sushi Only LA Locals Know
Photo: lotusutol, Flickr

In LA, there's more to the sushi scene than Nobu. In fact, you'll find some of the city's best sushi in the places you'd least expect. You just need an insider to help you find them.

Here are some of my favorite hidden gems:

Nagao Sushi
This teeny-tiny restaurant has a sushi bar and only a handful of tables. The best seats in the house are right in front of owner-and-chef Nagao, who not only creates incredible food, he's also fun and chats with his guests. His signature dishes are his Moonlight rolls, which are rice-free (hey, this is Los Angeles!) and wrapped in cucumber. My favorite is Moonlight #2 with salmon, avocado and asparagus, all artfully presented. Tucked into the Brentwood Country Mart, Nagao is a very neighborhoody spot (albeit, in a neighborhood where the guy eating sushi next to you could be Ben Affleck!).

Sasabune Express
Chef Nobi Kushuhara is a lauded sushi master in this city, whose motto at his popular Sasabune in West LA is "trust me." Sasabune Express is his more relaxed, cafe-style outpost in nearby Pacific Palisades. This place is authentic (expect the waitstaff to speak little English), and the quality of the fish is amazing. They have a simple, well-edited selection that can be served in large platters. Think five pieces for $8 — it's that kind of deal. One more tip: they don't have a liquor license, so it's BYOB. Which means you have to bring your bottle in a brown bag and keep it on the floor by your seat. Sasabune will supply the cups.

If you venture upstairs to the third level of Brentwood Gardens, a stylish shopping mall (stay with me here), you'll find Taiko. The sushi is great, but what sets them apart is their donburi bowls (sushi rice topped with fish or chicken and various tasty sauces), and their noodle menu. I love their udon and soba noodles, served in flavorful soup combinations that satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike. It's great if you're looking for something just a little bit different.