by Kika Davis 2 - 106 Reviews - 37 List
True sushi lovers know that the second best place in the world where seafood chefs have the best pick from the day's catch is LA (the first is Japan, of course). But while the sushi restaurants in the city get most of the buzz, real foodies know to drive over the hill and venture onto Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
Updated: April 19, 2010
Skip ordering a la carte, and instead, put your taste buds in the hands of Nozawa's head chef/owner, Nozawa-san, aka the "Sushi Nazi" himself. By ordering omakase (Japanese for chef's choice), your sushi is personally hand-picked. From toro and yellowtail, to uni and albacore, every fish chosen is fresh and the quality is truly unbeatable.
Sushi Iki (pronounced eeky, not icky) features pretty unusual fish brought to you by chef/owner "Crazy" Eddie Okamoto. Of course, Chef Eddie will make popular, mainstream sushi items, but the real draw is possibly finding live scallop in shell. This truly separates them from the rest of the crowd along the boulevard.
This is the place for a diner who doesn't consider spicy tuna rolls and California rolls a prerequisite for every sushi meal. In fact, they don't even make them here. Instead, you'll be treated to a culinary surprise. My favorites, the tuna carpaccio and toro tartar, are both heaven. At Kazu, you're getting quality sushi, prepared by chefs who know what they're doing--it's both a treat and a luxury not to be missed.
If you only order one thing, please let it be the albacore with crispy onions. Between the seared tuna, crispy shallots and vinaigrette, you might just die and you would be completely OK with it. The tuna's sliced so beautifully that it simply melts in your mouth and leaves the faintest of tongue-teasing vinaigrette. Word to the wise: seating is on the limited side, so reservations are pretty much mandatory. But it's worth it.
If you love great sushi and cant afford to eat at the $$$$ restaurants every day, Iwata is the next best thing. With choices like yellowtail belly, spicy tuna stuffed jalapenos, albacore tempura and spicy tuna on toast (my personal favorite), they are more of a traditional sushi restaurant, but with a twist. Parking can be difficult though, so get there early and shoot for a meter.
Not only does Kushiyu's Japanese chefs serve fresh sushi from the morning's market, they also offer grilled fish and meats, known as yakitori. If you are a fish lover like me, try the seabass kushiyaki--it is jam-packed with flavor and melts in your mouth. However, my personal favorite is the kawa (chicken skin). It's just as delicious as bacon.
Midori offers the best AYCE sushi in town. Everything is made to order, allowing the fish to stay fresh. Try the ?405 Roll? which is tuna, salmon, and albacore mixed in spicy mayo topped with albacore and bonito flakes. Guaranteed, this is the best $25.95 you'll ever spend on sushi. Just make sure you come hungry to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Sushi Dan has incredibly large portions at an affordable price. They have a more Americanized flair and they use an unnecessary amount of eel sauce, but it's good food. They offer a good selection of wines and martinis at special lunch rates, and a menu with a large selection of sushi, rolls and lunch/dinner plates.
The great thing about Akari is you never have to wait in line (but it's never dead either). They have decent prices, tasty sushi and flavorful rolls. Their happy hour is quite stellar, with beer/hot sake for $2.50, cold sake at $2.95, and nigiri/rolls for $2.50 and up. I've never been disappointed with this true hole in the wall, and I?m sure you won't be either.