Sushi master chef Kazunori Nozawa was also known as “the Sushi Nazi” because allegedly he used to throw people out of the restaurant if they asked for dipping sauces or tempura or for a “California rolls” (apparently even famous people like Charlize Theron got thrown out).
After having run a restaurant in Tokyo with his mother he opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles in the mid/late eighties and Sushi Nozawa quickly became a world renown restaurant. In 2012, after 25 years, he retired from making sushi and opened Sugarfish, for which he and his sons still select the freshest fish every morning.
Sugarfish has become a hit and has 10 locations in Los Angeles and one in New York. The first ever location is now closed so I visited the second location, which is now the oldest one and is located in Marina Del Ray, near Venice Beach.
When I tried to visit the New York location in the first month it had opened there was a 3 hour wait, so I ate somewhere else. But in LA it’s much easier to get a table or a seat at the bar (although it’s not really a sushi bar, as the kitchen is off to the side). Expect a wait of at least 20 min (we waited 30 min on a Monday night at 9.30, which is a very off time…).
The food is amazing and surprisingly affordable. The omakase (or “Trust Me” as it’s called) is only $35 and there is a light version for $25 and a version with two extra specials for $45.
The fish is super fresh and the preparation is truly great. For example the salmon, and the eel were some of the best salmon and eel I’ve had and the large scallop had a tangy bite to it which was a bit of yuzu ponzu on it. Even the sushi rice was tastier than most: it is warm-ish and harder, almost “al dente”, I’d say, and with the right amount of vinegar. The only bad thing about the rice (and about the whole experience) is the consistency of the rice. The taste is great but you can’t pick up a piece of sushi with your chop sticks without dropping some rice on your plate. It’s impossible. Maybe I should have tried the old school japanese way (by hand)… And forget about picking it up and flicking it over to dip the fish in the soy sauce (which is the way you use soy sauce on sushi, fish side down!). It’s impossible! That was a drag but the taste of the fish made up for it.
For a place with 10 locations I was amazed at the quality.