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Los Angeles' Best Sushi and More News

Los Angeles' Best Sushi and More News


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In today's Media Mix, the story of Richard Serra and a pastry chef, plus Andy Ricker's top five Thai albums

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

LA's Best Sushi: We must admit, the West Coast is the best coast for sushi. Just look at the food porn. [LA Mag]

Richard Serra vs. Blue Bottle: Blue Bottle's pastry chef at the SFMOMA recounts meeting Richard Serra after he refused to allow them to make a Serra cookie, even though "EVERYTHING IN THE SHOW LOOKED LIKE A GIANT COOKIE!" [Blue Bottle]

Andy Ricker Introduces Thai Music: The Pok Pok chef shares his top five Thai pop albums. We've found the soundtrack for the week. [Food Is the New Rock]

Cool Lunch Bag, Bro: A hip father, who just so happens to be a graphic designer, illustrates his kids' lunch bags. [This Is Colossal]

Michael Pollan on Stephen Colbert: The food writer chats about his new book Cooked, while Colbert admits, "I base all my eating on the band Meatloaf." [Eater]


The 11 Best Classic And Quintessentially Los Angeles Dishes

In a city that tends to cherish the young and new, the term "Classic L.A." seems like an oxymoron. But even though Chasen's is long gone, there are a few establishments that have withstood the test of time, and played a role in our cultural history by serving dishes that have grown to define us. Here are eleven of our favorite classic—and quintessentially L.A.—dishes from across the city.


(Photo courtesy of Bay Cities)
THE GODMOTHER AT BAY CITIES

Bay Cities is a great example of the most common kind of tale in Los Angeles, the tale of those who move west to reinvent themselves. The original founder, Antoni DiTommasi, was a Chicago policeman. Rumor has it, after some trouble with the Chicago mafia and a gentle nudging to leave town, he packed his bags, moved to Los Angeles, and opened up a deli in 1925. Ninety years later, it still serves Santa Monica. The famous sandwich, The Godmother, entered the scene in the 1950's. Prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami and provolone cheese. Order with "the works," and hot or mild peppers. Sure you can get it to go, although it really is best eaten there.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery is located 1517 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. (310) 395-8279


(Photo courtesy of Matsuhisa)
YELLOWTAIL JALAPEÑO AT MATSUHISA

Matsuhisa on La Cienega, opened in 1987, is the spark that lit the flame for Nobu Matsuhisa, the chef and owner of a now worldwide brand. He started his career in Peru, and developed innovative dishes that blended together Japanese and Peruvian styles of cooking. Yellowtail jalapeño, a sashimi dish that incorporated a then-bizarre twist (the jalapeño as a spice), became a trademark dish for Nobu, and not only perpetuated the brand but also crossed over to influence most Los Angeles sushi restaurants.

Matsuhisa Restaurant is located at 129 N. La Cienega Blvd. in Mid-City. (310) 659-9639


(Photo by Marie W. via Yelp)
FILET OF SANDABS AT THE MUSSO & FRANK GRILL

The Musso & Frank Grill is among the elders on the list, open since 1919. As told by Peter Landroche, the maître d of Musso & Frank (and previously of Orso), Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino would regularly meet at Musso & Frank for lunch, since it was equidistant from their two studios. One would ring up the other and speak a single word into the phone: "Musso." The last person to make it to the table had to pick up the tab. They preferred the booth by the front door, so they could tie up their borrowed studio horses outside and keep an eye on them through the window. The booth is still nicknamed "Charlie Chaplin's booth." Although many of the dishes could be considered classic, and the original menu is hanging on the wall at the back of the restaurant, one of the favorites is the filet of sanddabs, a white fish served with a lemon sauce. Though their popularity has waned in recent years, sanddabs were long considered an iconic California fish ("in the days of Chandler and Hammett," a former L.A. Times food critic once wrote, "and dabs ranked right behind halibut as the most popular flatfish"). Musso's old school filet is light enough to order a side of creamed spinach with it, an order of asparagus with hollandaise sauce, plus a side of sautéed mushrooms and maybe some french fries.

The Musso & Frank Grill is located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. (323) 467-7788


(Photo by Gee L. via Yelp)
#19 AT LANGER'S DELI

In 2002, my aunt, Nora Ephron, wrote an article in The New Yorker, awarding Langer's the trophy of "the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world." For a Los Angeles institution to have beaten out New York, in The New Yorker, by the ultimate "New Yorker," was no small feat. Langer's gets its pastrami from distributor RC Provisions, a relationship that began with the late Al Langer, who founded the deli in 1947, and Bill Giamela, the now-75-year old founder of RC Provisions. The tradition of hand-selecting the cuts was perfected by their fathers and passed down to sons Norm Langer (Langer's) and Matt Giamela (RC Provisions). This method of hand selection is apparent in the pastrami's flavor. While the #19 is the classic, and includes cole slaw, Russian dressing and swiss cheese, there are traditionalists that believe the pastrami is so good it only needs mustard and the rye bread.

Langer's Deli & Restaurant is located at 704 S. Alvarado St. in Westlake. (213) 483-8050


(Photo by Tera K. via Yelp)
BANANA CREAM PIE AT THE APPLE PAN

Founded in 1947 and still owned by the same family, The Apple Pan has been featured in not one, but two Huell Howser specials. He refers to it as a "survivor," a restaurant able to "hold out. [but] not sold out." Made up of one long counter with red stools (with backs!), they serve soda in paper cones and ketchup on thin paper plates. Their classic dish: the banana cream pie. But you should probably order a hickory burger or a tuna sandwich before the pie so you haven't only had a massive slice of pie for lunch.

The Apple Pan is located at 10801 W. Pico Blvd. in West L.A. (310) 475-3585


(Photo by J.M. via Yelp)
FRIED FISH SANDWICH AT MALIBU SEAFOOD

A lobster in a Hawaiian shirt waves at you from PCH, beckoning you into the parking lot. If you want to work up an appetite, park in the back of the lot and take a walk up the Corral Canyon trail. But don't do the entire loop or by the time you make it back down the hill, the line will be too long and the tables too full. It is very important to get a table in the first section of the three-tiered outdoor picnic table seating so you can have an optimal view of the ocean—prime seating for possible dolphin and whale watching. Order a fried fish sandwich without the cheese, french fries (there's malt vinegar on every table), and a Juice Squeeze. Founded in 1972, Malibu Seafood preserves the youthful nostalgic feeling that one should not need to wear shoes in Malibu.

Malibu Seafood is located at 25653 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. (310) 456-3430


(Photo courtesy of Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts)
SUGAR DOUGHNUT AT BOB'S COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS

Long before The Grove was built, The Farmer's Market stood on its own as a fixture of Los Angeles "cool." It was the main hang-out for the characters in the Weetzie Bat series. With the add-on of The Grove, the original spirit of the eclectically hip Farmer's Market seems a distant memory, but right in the center, still serving Los Angeles with the grace of its simplicity, is Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts. The gourmet doughnut is currently trending throughout the city, but Bob's has always captured a quality that seems to elude its new competitors: that when you bite into their doughnuts they dissolve quickly in your mouth, an airy-like dough perfected over the years since owner Bob Tusquellas bought the place in 1970.

Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts is located at 6333 W. 3rd St. (#450) in the Original Farmer's Market.


(Photo by Mary F. via Yelp)
SLIPPERY SHRIMP AT YANG CHOW

Located on the ornate streets of Chinatown, surrounded by other local Chinese eateries and burgeoning art galleries, is a classic American Chinese restaurant with big round tables and a wall lined with photos of seemingly random celebrities. There are now three Yang Chow's in Los Angeles, but this family-run downtown original opened its doors in 1977, and helped make slippery shrimp, a lightly fried and delicious sweet shrimp dish, popular all over the city. According to a 1991 L.A. Times article, they give out the recipe on request.

Yang Chow is located at 819 N. Broadway in Chinatown. (213) 625-0811


(Exterior photo by Alex de Cordoba Pizza photo courtesy of Casa Bianca Pizza Pie)
CHEESE PIZZA AT CASA BIANCA PIZZA PIE

Located in Eagle Rock, and serving regulars that have been coming from all over since 1955, is Casa Bianca: a Sicilian, red-checkered tablecloth, cash-only joint. It's the kind of place where the waiters are proud to work there. In fact, one waiter, Brianne Newton, told me it took her three years to get the job and has had it for the past 11. Her enthusiasm about the place was infectious, and a warmth permeates the truly "family-style" restaurant. Order a side of meatballs with your pizza, and if you bring enough family or friends to help you polish it all off, order appetizer dishes of bruschetta and garlic bread.

Casa Bianca Pizza Pie is located at 1650 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. (323) 256-9617


(Photo by Lady Ducayne via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
FRENCH DIP SANDWICH AT PHILIPPE THE ORIGINAL

Philippe the Original has continuously operated in Los Angeles since 1908, and been at its current location a block away from Union Station for more than half a century. It's also wildly popular—as of 2008, they served 2,200 to 3,000 customers a day on weekdays and as many as 4,000 on weekends, according to the L.A. Times—so don't be surprised if there's a line. The atmosphere is wonderfully old school, but the real draw is the French dip sandwich, a thinly-sliced bounty of roast beef heaped on a French roll and dripping with juice. They even take credit cards, as of 2014. —Julia Wick

Philippe the Original is located at 1001 N. Alameda St. in Chinatown.


(Photo courtesy of El Tepeyac)
HOLLENBECK BURRITO AT MANUEL'S EL TEPEYAC

A Boyle Heights institution not far from the Hollenbeck police station, El Tepeyac has been a go-to spot for Mexican fare since 1955. One of their signature burritos is called The Hollenbeck, named after the policemen who kept requesting additional ingredients until the burritos (packed with seared pork meat, rice, beans, guacamole and more) grew to weigh an average of five pounds each. Owner Manuel Rojas used to give shots of tequila to his patrons as they entered. Rojas passed in 2013, the shots are gone but the charm still remains.

Manuel's El Tepeyac is located at 812 N. Evergreen Ave. in Boyle Heights. (323) 268-1960


Best of 2020: Takeout sushi in the San Fernando Valley

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Editor’s note: Restaurant critic Merrill Shindler believes there are many wonderful options for takeout food — cuisines that “travel well,” as he says. We asked him to highlight six of his favorites. … Previously, he wrote about barbecue, Chinese food, fried chicken, Mediterranean food and pizza. Now, for the final entry — sushi! … For all of his restaurant reviews, watch this space: www.dailynews.com/author/merrill-shindler

My favorite takeout sushi

The Little Izakaya by Katsu-Ya

4517 Sepulveda Blvd., Sherman Oaks 818-789-3111, www.katsu-yagroup.com

This “little” on Sepulveda — at the point where the 405 starts ascending to the Westside, with a Whole Foods across the street, just in case you’re in need of something organic — is a sibling of the bigger Katsu-yas. But as the name suggests it’s diminutive — but with a decidedly non diminutive izakaya menu.

Izakaya refers, in Japan, to a wonderful world of bar snacks that go very well with sake, beer and mixed drinks of sundry exotica. And goodness knows, that’s what this small kitchen manages to crank out — more than than 30 a la carte options for nigiri sushi and sashimi, a dozen small seafood dishes, almost as many small meat dishes, half a dozen “compilation dishes” (think grilled eggplant with albacore in miso sauce), 16 small veggies dishes, 50 sushi rolls (standard and exotic).

If you want it all done for you, consider the lunchtime combinations and bento boxes — pre-assembled by cooks who know what they’re doing. Or just go wild ordering everything in sight. Or at least, in sight on the menu. And yes, I miss going here, and being able to just keep ordering until I’m satiated and somewhat loony. Oh well. Someday.


9 best sushi restaurants in the South Bay, ready for takeout and delivery

Ever since sushi moved from the realm of culinary exotica to cognoscenti object-of-desire back in the late 1970s, it’s been the food of choice for trendies and fast-laners. And these days, for pretty much all of us.

From Teru Sushi and Asanebo in Studio City, to Matsuhisa in Hollywood, to R-23 in downtown LA’s Warehouse District, to branches of Sushi Roku and Katsuya all over town, being able to differentiate between sea eel and fresh water eel has marked you as a diner of distinction, someone whose tastebuds have risen far above those of the McDonald’s millions.

Also, supermodels and Hollywood starlets like the stuff because it’s high in protein and low in calories. And studio types love it because shouting at the chefs is considered to be good form — it’s a culinary form of therapy, with a sake chaser.

And in these hard times, it’s also a joy to order takeout from the many options around town. Ranging from impossible-to-get-into hype trendies like N/Naka (which offers a $38 bento box, about one-tenth the price of dinner there!), to funky, downhome, eccentrically named sushi roll joints, where every dish is packed with tempura and Sriracha and other American twists not found in Tokyo.

I love takeout sushi. I found monster amounts of pleasure with the bento boxes sold in the train stations of Japan — elegant, joyous, fun bits of art, with beautiful wrapping, and food within so perfect that you hesitate to eat it. But of course, you do.

I recognize there are folks who worry about the healthiness of eating raw fish — especially raw fish delivered from a restaurant where you’re not actually seeing the preparation at the sushi bar. It’s a chance I’m willing to take, oh ye of little faith. The goodness of this takeout sushi transcends my worries. They make my plague imprisonment if not tolerable, at least bearable.

The choices are many, but these are some of my most trusted favorites:

Fusion Sushi

1150 Morningside Drive, Manhattan Beach, 310-802-1160 3963 Pacific Coast Hwy., Torrance, 310-378-2990 1200 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-318-2781 www.fusionsushi.com

Like many seriously committed sushi lovers, I’ve seen my taste in sushi slowly evolve over the years from a simple lozenge of rice, topped with a slice of fish, to highly ornate, even Byzantine exotic specialty rolls, with a kitchen full of ingredients…and the fish and rice largely overwhelmed by an excess of tempura crispies, Sriracha sauce, eel sauce, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, mayonnaise — the list goes on. And I’m not complaining — I like special rolls.

There’s possibly no local sushi bar with a more encyclopedic, zany, over-the-top collection of sushi rolls than Fusion Sushi, where the menu has page after page of Fusion Specials, Chef Special Rolls and Tempura Special Rolls. They have names like the Bora Bora Roll, the Final Fantasy Roll, the Spicy Rock Star Roll and the Disco Shrimp Roll.

Or, you can just order old favorites like tataki maguro (seared tuna), unagi (fresh water eel), hamachi (yellowtail) — and my personal fave rave, uni (sea urchin), tasting of the sea, and rarely found in sushi rolls. As a special treat, I went for the sashimi salad, which is if anything even healthier — chunks of raw fish atop a salad, rather than rice. Life is short, and every bite should count. And anyway, since I don’t order the rolls with French fries, I’m living a righteous existence. All brown rice and no tempura crispies make Jack a dull boy.

The Izakaya By Katsu-Ya

1133 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310-796-1888, www.katsu-yagroup.com

Izakaya is all about small dishes. And at this small dish concept by the Katsu-Ya Group, small dishes rule. Especially if they involve seafood.

In Japan, Izakaya refers to a wonderful world of bar snacks that go very well with sake, beer and mixed drinks of sundry exotica. And goodness knows, that’s what this kitchen manages to crank out — more than than 30 a la carte options for nigiri sushi and sashimi, a dozen small seafood dishes, almost as many small meat dishes, half a dozen “compilation dishes” (think grilled eggplant with albacore in miso sauce), 16 small veggies dishes, 50 sushi rolls (standard and exotic).

If you want it all done for you, consider the lunchtime combinations and bento boxes — pre-assembled by cooks who know what they’re doing. Or just go wild ordering everything in sight. Or at least, in sight on the menu. And yes, I miss going here, and being able to just keep ordering until I’m satiated and somewhat loony.

The vegetable section alone can keep me very busy — all those chewy plant dishes go down very easily, and very well with beer. The deep-fried gobo stick (read: burdock root) is more crunchy than flavorful – but it’s a very good crunch. Eggplant comes both grilled and marinated, both of which are oily in the way that eggplant is always oily, and both of which are awash with flavor eggplant, as a rule, is more a sponge than a vegetable. The assorted pickled vegetables are a fine palate cleanser. And if you’re a fan of mushrooms (like me), try the shimejis with sesame sauce the mushrooms and the marinade meld into a fine oneness of taste and purpose. I like the spinach ohitashi as well eating spinach always makes me feel virtuous.

And I’m a fan of the Challenge of the Shishito Peppers. Of an order of 20, as a rule, 17 will be mild, and three will be hot. It’s a bit like culinary Russian Roulette, trying to figure out who’ll get the hot ones.

913 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 310-372-6156, www.o-shosushi.com

I do miss going to the venerable O-Sho in Manhattan Beach, which may well be the most popular sushi bar in the South Bay. For as long as I can remember, O-Sho (which also has a branch on Sawtelle in West LA) has been a destination for those who like their Japanese food to fall within certain well-defined boundaries — the dishes served here have a warm familiarity to them. Most of us have seen them before, ordered them before, know them well. And nothing’s wrong with that what is classic American cooking, for instance, but a return to our roots.

In this case, what we return to are the Japanese roots that non-Japanese began to discover back in the 󈨀s. There’s sushi, and lots of it, all the dishes we’ve come to know so well over the years, and for which we feel both passion and loyalty.

But in case you don’t feel like toro and uni, order one of the many complete dinners, which come with miso soup, sunomono salad, green salad, steamed rice and a choice of chicken yakitori, shrimp and vegetable tempura or pork-filled gyoza dumplings. That’s the supporting cast for basics like beef, chicken or salmon teriyaki beef, chicken or vegetarian sukiyaki deep-fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu), deep-fried chicken filet (chicken katsu), or udon noodles with tempura and chicken. There are other combinations as well, that mix and match teriyaki, tempura, sashimi, sushi, tonkatsu, gyoza, pretty much any jumble you wish.

And what comes out of the kitchen is just fine— the Japanese equivalent of Southern fried chicken and Mom’s apple pie. The tempura is sufficiently crisp, though a few seconds longer wouldn’t hurt (it’s a bit pale). The chicken in the teriyaki is ever-so-slightly overcooked, though that’s well disguised by the teriyaki sauce.

The sushi selection is gimmick-free, carefully made, reasonably priced — a Dungeness crab roll is about a third less than the going rate (ditto the shrimp tempura roll and the Philadelphia roll). And everyone loves green tea ice cream for dessert.

With in-person dining at sushi restaurants not possible for the time being, sushi for takeout and delivery is the next best thing. Here, spicy tuna crispy rice is made with fried sushi rice topped with spicy ahi tuna, sweet soy and avocado mousse. (File photo by Paul Rodriguez)

Rolled sushi and spring rolls in a variety of options are available for takeout and delivery from local sushi restaurants. (File photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

From left are tuna, albacore, salmon, halibut and seared yellowtail sushi. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka)

Tuna is a popular sushi ingredient, as it is here with the Tuna Tower. (File photo by Sam Gangwer)


It’s hard to tell what’s more divisive: Brexit, or the Philly roll. I personally hold the belief that cream cheese should never come anywhere near my sushi roll, but I also have friends that love it. It’s a good thing that they’re not writing this ranking, though. Tough luck, Philly roll.

Contains: smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, asparagus (optional)

Let’s be clear: Smoked salmon recipes give me life. Whenever I go for afternoon tea, I make it my mission to sneakily consume as many salmon-cream cheese sandwiches as humanly possible. But the asparagus in an Alaska Roll? No, thank you.


Another chocolate-banana indulgence, this rolled gets an added twist with pistachios. And with only three ingredients, you'll feel hella fancy without any of the added effort. Cheers to that, loves.

Ruby Siegel

Infinitely cheaper than actual sushi, this Candy Sushi recipe uses Swedish Fish to make an adorable, game-changing snack. It's basically every kids' dream, so channel your inner child and get rolling.

Whether you're vegan, looking to save some cash, or just not into seafood, there are plenty of ways to make sushi without raw fish. And if you're feeling up to the real stuff, don't worry we got you covered there, too.


L.A. Hit Sugarfish Continues New York Expansion with New Soho Location

Manhattan's second Sugarfish outpost opened on February 21.

It took the Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa team over four years to find their inaugural New York City outlet, which debuted in the fall of 2016 in Flatiron. And mere seconds after opening doors, sushi enthusiasts flocked to the wildly popular Los Angeles set-menu sushi concept, causing lines around the block for salmon nigiri and blue crab hand rolls. So, with New Yorkers confirming their appetite for sterling seafood at reasonable prices–𠄺n appreciated departure from the city’s recent influx of expense account sushi counters–𠄿ounders Tom Nozawa, Lele Massimini, and Jerry Greenberg knew they hit a sweet spot. And, of course, a sophomore effort would have to follow.

Manhattan’s second Sugarfish outlet hit Soho on February 21, claiming a modest corner plot at 202 Spring Street near Sullivan Street, encompassing approximately 1,700 square feet, equipped with 42 seats, eight of which are at a bar.

"We love the neighborhood, and felt we would be a good welcomed addition to the food offerings down here,” says Massimini, who felt that Sugarfish’s casual omakase (chef’s choice) dining format would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

When Sugarfish expanded from California to New York, the team made their ambitions clear: that here on the East Coast, the brand would offer precisely the same high-quality, reasonably-priced sushi served in a clean, modern space, just like the locations in Los Angeles since the brand’s debut in Marina del Rey in 2008. That included the same three set menus with various selections of sashimi, nigiri, and a hand roll––Trust Me Lite, Trust Me, and The Nozawa––though in New York the team had to slightly raise prices to account for the city’s high rent. So, instead of paying $19, $27, or $37 during lunch and $23, $33, or $43 during dinner, depending on one’s menu choice, here in New York Sugarfish charges $23, $33, or $45 for lunch and $28, $40, or $52 during dinner, while offering a number of additional sushi preparations à la carte. Sugarfish also offers daily-changing specials based on seasonal availability of fish, like uni and engawa (halibut fin).

Sugarfish as a concept is an offshoot of what was once Los Angeles’ most respected sushi counter, Sushi Nozawa. The small, unfancy joint in a strip mall on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City was known for its excellent sushi and Hollywood industry clientele. Owner Kazunori Nozawa opened the tiny sushiya in 1987, and he was one of the first chefs in America to put high-end Edo-mae (a more traditional style of sushi-making using fish from around Tokyo Bay, which a chef marinates and preserves before serving), chef’s-choice sushi on the map. He called the style “trust me” sushi, also the moniker for Sugarfish’s set menus.

Nozawa was known for his pristine seafood, and it’s through his longstanding relationships with fish purveyors that he was consistently able to source the best seafood in Los Angeles. When Tom and the team launched Sugarfish over a decade ago now, he put to good use his father’s fish-sourcing relationships. He bought the same top-level seafood served at Sushi Nozawa for Sugarfish, and because he was buying a larger quantity of fish–𠄿irst for just two restaurants, then three, then four–𠄻uying in bulk enabled him to keep prices at Sugarfish low, while maintaining a high fish-quality standard.

And that’s how Sugarfish came to be. The concept proved a quick hit in Los Angeles, and when Nozawa decided to retire in 2012, he flipped his iconic sushi bar into another Sugarfish. And from there the brand has grown throughout Los Angeles, now with two Manhattan outlets.

Lauded Los Angeles architect Marmol Radziner schemed aesthetics for Sugarfish’s Soho space, designing a contemporary room with clean lines and floor-to-ceiling white oak. Similar in looks to other Sugarfish locations, patrons can sit at booths, banquettes, or grab a sake or beer at a small bar area.

In addition to the three aforementioned set menus, Sugarfish Soho has one additional option called 𠇍on’t Think Just Eat.” It began as an off-menu special menu that Nozawa introduced last year to celebrate Sugarfish’s tenth birthday, but it became so popular that the team decided to make it a permanent fixture at the new location. Like a classic omakase meal, the diners doesn’t know exactly what they will be served because the menu is based on what’s seasonally available at the moment. But that meal typically contains two sashimi courses, 12 pieces of nigiri (the same fish prepared in two different ways), and two hand rolls for $63.

In the last half decade, New York has welcomed in a spate of sushi bars traditional enough to zap diners to Tokyo for a few hours. With that experience found at places like Noda, Noz, Sushi AMANE, and Shoji at 69 Leonard comes freshly grated Japanese wasabi root, seafood flown in daily from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market, and prices sometimes as high as a month’s rent.

Which explains why diners eagerly que up for Sugarfish’s $28 to $63 omakases.


LA’s Best Restaurants, According To Yelp

Providence is rated the highest restaurant in Los Angeles according to Yelp, with 1,348 reviews. Yelper Dana F. said, “Definitely order the foie gras sauté if you’re into foie gras,” while Yelper Shellie C. said, “Definitely coming back to try the tasting menu with wine pairing.” Providence is located in Mid-Wilshire and is in the higher price range.

Guisados

2100 E Cesar Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033
www.guisados.co

Coming in No. 2 according to Yelpers is Guisados. Locals in Los Angeles have a lot to say about this reasonably priced Mexican restaurant. Fernando H. said, “The Cochinita Pibil and Mole Poblano are standouts,” and Joanne L. said, “Highly recommend the Sampler platter, which comes with six tacos.”

Genwa Korean BBQ

5115 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
www.genwakoreanbbq.com

Ranked third in Los Angeles according to Yelp is Genwa Korean BBQ. Yelper Christina V. said, “I love love love the fact that you get 25 side dishes,” while Mark C. said, “One million types of banchan and super delicious meat.” This family-friendly restaurant is moderately priced in the Mid-Wilshire district.

Veggie Grill

8000 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
www.veggiegrill.com

A healthier alternative came in fourth, according to Yelp. The Veggie Grill has locations across LA and Orange County offering veggie-based food. Yelper Brandy J. said, “By far, the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had,” while Jaimie B. says, “I dare you to order the All Hail Kale Salad – it’s amazing.”

Sushi-Gen

422 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Located in Little Tokyo Downtown is the fifth highest rated restaurant according to Yelp. Sushi-Gen has come in with 1,808 reviews about their authentic foods. Yelper Chris A. said, “The fish is always fresh and the toro is to die for,” and Yelper C.N. raves about the miso soup by saying, “Calm/Miso Soup – excellent flavor and balance.”

Shelby is an Orange County Native, and is a freelance writer for multiple magazines and websites around LA and Orange County. She can be found writing daily about the hottest happenings at the OC Mom Blog or on Twitter @OCMomBlog.


9 best sushi restaurants in the Long Beach area, ready for takeout and delivery

Ever since sushi moved from the realm of culinary exotica to cognoscenti object-of-desire back in the late 1970s, it’s been the food of choice for trendies and fast-laners. And these days, for pretty much all of us.

From Teru Sushi and Asanebo in Studio City, to Matsuhisa in Hollywood, to R-23 in downtown LA’s Warehouse District, to branches of Sushi Roku and Katsuya all over town, being able to differentiate between sea eel and fresh water eel has marked you as a diner of distinction, someone whose tastebuds have risen far above those of the McDonald’s millions.

Also, supermodels and Hollywood starlets like the stuff because it’s high in protein and low in calories. And studio types love it because shouting at the chefs is considered to be good form — it’s a culinary form of therapy, with a sake chaser.

And in these hard times, it’s also a joy to order takeout from the many options around town. Ranging from impossible-to-get-into hype trendies like N/Naka (which offers a $38 bento box, about one-tenth the price of dinner there!), to funky, downhome, eccentrically named sushi roll joints, where every dish is packed with tempura and Sriracha and other American twists not found in Tokyo.

I love takeout sushi. I found monster amounts of pleasure with the bento boxes sold in the train stations of Japan — elegant, joyous, fun bits of art, with beautiful wrapping, and food within so perfect that you hesitate to eat it. But of course, you do.

I recognize there are folks who worry about the healthiness of eating raw fish — especially raw fish delivered from a restaurant where you’re not actually seeing the preparation at the sushi bar. It’s a chance I’m willing to take, oh ye of little faith. The goodness of this takeout sushi transcends my worries. They make my plague imprisonment if not tolerable, at least bearable.

The choices are many, but these are some of my most trusted favorites:

Bai-Plu Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar

2119 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach 562-343-2651, www.baipluthaiandsushi.com

Bai-Plu Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar is the restaurant equivalent of a Reese’s peanut butter cup — a combination of two of my favorite things, in one pretty foil wrapper. I’ve been mad for chocolate and peanut butter, probably since birth. I’ve loved sushi since it became a cult favorite for foodies back in the 󈨊s.

At about the same time, we fell in love with Thai cooking that wasn’t just a variant on Chinese. Having dishes from both cuisines on the table — that’s just fine! And I’m happy to have some mee krob and chicken satay. But what I really like here are the exotic rolls. If you’ve been wondering what a Jalapeño Bomb might be, it’s a deep-fried jalapeño stuffed with spicy tuna and cream cheese.

And, of course, we need to be helped with any number of the more than 40 Special Rolls — that a Playboy Roll is shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber topped with with tuna, “crunchy flakes” and eel sauce is not easily guessed at. Neither, for that matter, are the components of a Rocky Roll, a Sweet Girl Roll, a Lakers Roll, a Godzilla Roll or any number of other bits of fancy roll exotica. But then, Bai Plu takes pride is slathering their menu with exotica, or at least exotic references.

There are two pages of Thai dishes referred to as The Wild Things. Why some dishes are “Wild Things” and others are “Appetizers” is a bit of a mystery — except the apps seem to be smaller than the wilds. I think. And though I understand the beef jerky and pork jerky — both properly spicy Thai dishes — being wild, the wildness of orange chicken and honey duck is a puzzle.

Fusion Sushi

6415 E. Spring St., Long Beach 562-429-8818, www.fusionsushi.com

Like many seriously committed sushi lovers, I’ve seen my taste in sushi slowly evolve over the years from a simple lozenge of rice, topped with a slice of fish, to highly ornate, even Byzantine exotic specialty rolls, with a kitchen full of ingredients…and the fish and rice largely overwhelmed by an excess of tempura crispies, Sriracha sauce, eel sauce, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, mayonnaise — the list goes on.

I’m not complaining — I like special rolls. And there’s possibly no local sushi bar with a more encyclopedic, zany, over-the-top collection of sushi rolls than Fusion Sushi — page after page of Fusion Specials, Chef Special Rolls and Tempura Special Rolls. They have names like the Bora Bora Roll, the Final Fantasy Roll, the Spicy Rock Star Roll and the Disco Shrimp Roll.

Or, you can just order old favorites like tataki maguro (seared tuna), unagi (fresh water eel), hamachi (yellowtail) — and my personal fave rave, uni (sea urchin) — tasting of the sea, and rarely found in sushi rolls.

As a special treat, I went for the sashimi salad, which is if anything even healthier — chunks of raw fish atop a salad, rather than rice. Life is short, and every bite should count. And anyway, since I don’t order the rolls with French fries, I’m living a righteous existence. All brown rice and no tempura crispies make Jack a dull boy.

Goyen Sushi & Robata

4905 E. 2nd St., Long Beach (Belmont Shore) 562-434-5757, goyensushilb.com

There are more than 40 special rolls on the menu, which should keep any fan of our SoCal take on sushi busy for many visits. Some are familiar — like the Rainbow Roll (a California Roll topped with tuna, salmon, albacore, escolar and shrimp) and the Spider Roll (soft shell crab and crab meat, wrapped with “tempura crunch”). And if you feel the need to go a bit odd, there’s the Love Love Roll, which is a California Roll wrapped in baked salmon and smelt eggs. And the Sunkist Roll, which the name to the contrary is not made of orange juice, but of spicy crab and asparagus, with salmon shrimp and avocado.

Why is a roll of spicy tuna and avocado a 911 Roll, and shrimp tempura with spicy tuna and crab meat a Bikini Roll? Darned if I know. But when I’m in the middle of a Sushi Roll Feeding Frenzy in my living room with family and no face masks, I don’t give it that much thought.

I Luv Sushi

I do love sushi and, yes, bunky, there is much to love at I Luv Sushi. Perhaps as an appetizer, the The Musketeers, who in this case turn out to be seaweed salad, calamari salad and baby octopus. Or the tuna poke or the baked green mussels. And how about the pleasure of ordering something called a “Pocket Monster” — snow crab, shrimp and cream cheese, wrapped in soy paper and deep-fried. That’s different. All of which leads us into the two dozen nigiri sushi rolls, and almost as many sashimi orders. Add on another two dozen hand rolls, and cut rolls.

Ultimately, we come to 44 Special Rolls, with special roll names like Yellow Submarine, Smokey & the Bandit, Spicy Girl and Sexy Girl. Why “girl”? Darned if I know. But there they are. And they sure taste good when you get them home, and dig in on your couch. (And do take not that I Luv Sushi has a spinoff, called

I Luv Sushi Too

This spinoff is pretty much the same, but bringing the “luv” to a different community.

With in-person dining at sushi restaurants not possible for the time being, sushi for takeout and delivery is the next best thing. Here, spicy tuna crispy rice is made with fried sushi rice topped with spicy ahi tuna, sweet soy and avocado mousse. (File photo by Paul Rodriguez)

Rolled sushi and spring rolls in a variety of options are available for takeout and delivery from local sushi restaurants. (File photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

From left are tuna, albacore, salmon, halibut and seared yellowtail sushi. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka)

Tuna is a popular sushi ingredient, as it is here with the Tuna Tower. (File photo by Sam Gangwer)

OHO Sushi Studio

4917 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach 562-498-9008, www.ohosushi.com

The massive menu at the Studio says they “add a Thai Kick” to their food. Though without a detailed analysis, you wouldn’t notice it it’s not as if there’s pad Thai and pad see ew on the menu but there sure are a lot. And when it comes to the rolls, probably more than you can get to in, if not a lifetime, at least till the end of the current “inconvenience.”

There are 14 sashimi options. A dozen sushi & sashimi “specialties.” Two dozen nigiri sushi. Some 60 hand rolls and cut rolls. And nearly four dozen Special Rolls. Monkey Roll anyone? Wolverine Roll? And why would anyone name a combo the Unpopular Roll? It consists of albacore tempura topped with avocado. “Unpopular”? Sounds like it should have lots of friends. At least among the other rolls.

5260 E. 2nd St., Long Beach 562-439-1950

If you’re going to contemplate the exotic roll menu at Sushi Ai (“Fresh, Baked & Tempura,” says the menu), it’s good to have a cold one well in hand. And perhaps a second cold one on the way. For, not counting daily specials and more standard rolls (and the fact that the Philadelphia Roll is standard speaks volumes), there are 56 special rolls on the menu. There is, for instance, a tempuraed California Roll, topped with spicy tuna, cream cheese and a crispy lotus root that’s been honored as a Super Mario Roll.

The Mexican Roll is a south of the border creation thanks to the presence of avocado, and spiced baby lobster. There’s a Stinky Roll, which isn’t stinky at all — it’s a California Roll with albacore and avocado, and a middling amount of garlic, which I guess is the stinky part. And, of course, an El Pollo Loco Roll got its name from the spicy chicken strips layered atop a California Roll.

And then, there are the quirky ingredients that appear in some of the rolls. There’s peanut sauce in the Nutty Professor Roll American cheese (and peanut sauce) in the Double Cheezy Roll pineapple and mozzarella in the Pina Langostino Roll and a fried tortilla in the Yellow Rattlesnake Roll. Did I mention the spray of crunchy potato straws atop the Typhoon Crunch Roll? I have now.

I’m also glad the Hawaiian Roll isn’t made with pineapple or Spam — it’s a California Roll with tuna and avocado. Cream cheese in a roll is hard enough to bear. Pineapple would be just too much.

Sushi Kinoya

5521 E. Stearns St., Long Beach 562-598-8169

You can go here for modern Japanese restaurant classics like marinated octopus salad with pickled cucumber, gyoza and baked green mussels. There are bento boxes for lunch, with chicken, beef and salmon teriyaki. There’s a sushi and sashimi list — two dozen of the former, 10 of the latter. They make a reliable California Roll, and very good crispy rice with a hearty dollop of spicy tuna on top. But then, there are the lists of special rolls, and lots of them, broken down (somewhat arbitrarily) into Rockin’ Sushi, Baked Sushi, Fresh Fish Rolls and Tempura Rolls.

Does the Rockin’ Sushi rock? Well, it sure is fun to eat, that’s for sure. And the names — and the ingredients — roll off the tongue with more than a bit of roguish glee. There’s a Hot Night Roll and a Noche Caliente Roll, which sound like the same thing, except one is made with spicy tuna, and the other with spicy crab. The Crazy Crab Roll is crab and avocado, deep-fried to crazy crispness. Ditto the Crazy Spicy Tuna Roll, except with tuna instead of crab. The Yummy Crunch Roll is inside a fried wonton skin. The Mango Salmon Roll is just what it says it is — mango on sushi? Ditto the LA Steak Roll, which is made with beef short rib. This is not what might be called traditional. I guess “rockin’” is the word. But there’s a certain purity here — even if the rolls can be a bit outré. But outré within bounds.

At Sushi Kinoya, the motto is: “We roll happiness.” Yup…they sure do.

Once again, the largest section of the menu is dedicated to “Special Rolls.” And they are, indeed, very special. In the current style, the menu description tells us what’s on the inside — and what’s on the outside.

(Those of us who have been eating sushi since the beginning remember when a roll was, well, a roll. A Happy Fish Roll [I made that up] would have been seared tuna and spiced tuna and grilled shrimp, wrapped in seaweed. Period. Now, there are layers within layers. It gets very complex. Oh, and names back then were a lot simpler. A whole lot.)

And so, for instance, we find a Sexy Girl Roll, with shrimp tempura and jalapeño on the inside, and avocado on the outside. The Candy Cane Roll is blue crab within, tuna and yellowtail without. The American Dragon Roll is shrimp tempura, spicy shrimp and krab inside, and eel outside. No wonder the chefs yell all the time — the stress of getting those right must be trying. Though the truth be told, there’s probably lots of room for latitude in the preparation. I suspect ingredients can be switched around, and few (if any) will complain. At 39 Degrees, we’re all too busy eating.

For those in need of proper Japanese restaurant entrees, there are various teriyakis, shioyakis, katsus, tempuras and hibachi dishes. There’s a combo called the Ultimate Trio (a bit over the top, but still…) of chicken teriyaki, tempura and sushi. There’s a Sashimi Platter and a Sushi Platter. But for those of us who just want to have fun, there are the Special Rolls. It’s a treat just to say them — Smokey & The Bandits, Mr. Bean, Green Machine, Shroom Shroom. The more sake you drink, the more fun they are to say. And to eat. And the more the stuffed sumo seems to be smiling. This is 39 Degrees…of happiness.


Share All sharing options for: Watch: Which Sushi Maker Creates the Best Roll?

The art of sushi making can be challenging, and takes time and practice to master. In this episode of The Kitchen Gadget Test Show, host Esther Choi reviews two sushi makers that promise to replace the traditional bamboo mat and create the perfect roll every time — no prior sushi making experience needed.

Up for review are the $9.98 Perfect Roll Sushi Maker and the Sushi Bazooka, which comes with $6.98 price tag. Both gadgets are tested for usability, the final look of the finished sushi, and how tightly the nori is rolled. “If it’s too tight, then your nori will rip and it’ll burst,” says Choi, chef and owner of restaurants Mokbar and Ms. Yoo in New York City. “And then if it’s too loose, all the ingredients in the middle will fall apart and it’ll be hard to cut.”



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