December 3, 2010
SugarFISH, Downtown Los Angeles
When SugarFISH invited me and a guest to dine at the new location in Downtown Los Angeles, I was thrilled. Not only because I love sushi and could eat it three times a day 365 days a year, but also because I have heard so much about the legendary and well respected Chef Nozawa. Known for quality seafood, exceptional rice and no nonsense dining experience at Sushi Nozawa in Studio City I could not wait to try SugarFISH.
Sushi chefs spend over a decade perfecting the rice because it is the most important component of sushi. The best quality seafood can be ruined by bad rice and can also be elevated by great rice. The rice at SugarFISH strives to be warm, loose and airy. To achieve this, the rice is made in small batches about once every 20 minutes to make sure the rice retains the exact texture, flavor and temperature that is on par with Nozawa's standards.
To maintain the high standards, Tom and Chef Nozawa personally train every chef that work in their restaurants. As we all know reputation can take years to build and one bite to ruin. That's why Chef Nozawa still gets up early every morning and go to the fish market at 5 am to choose the fish that each restaurant will serve. Chef Nozawa is also the one who decides which sauce will accompany the fish. There are three types of ponzu served at SugarFISH, regular ponzu, spicy ponzu and yuzu ponzu. Each one is created by Nozawa with his own recipe. Even the seaweed was hand picked by Chef Nozawa from a place off the Japanese coast.
The menu is very simple, consisting of three Trust Me varieties and items a la carte. We started with The Nozawa, which contains 10 items and is specifically designed for what customers would get at a sushi bar. The price is $35-38 depending on the daily special.
Wasabi and Ginger
I didn't touch the wasabi, but the ginger was good.
The tea was very smooth and the flavor was light.
Item #1: Each plate contained around 20-25 pieces. The edamame was crispy, fresh and lightly seasoned.
Item #2: The thick slices of tuna were tender and fresh. The regular ponzu provided a nice flavor balance and did not overpower the fish.
Item #3: This was the best albacore I have ever tasted and I am sure a big part is due to the quality of the rice. The rice didn't fall apart after I picked it up and it truly was warm, loose and airy. This is without a doubt the best sushi rice I have tasted. The albacore was also nicely complimented with regular ponzu.
Item 4: After being in rice and albacore heaven I finally moved on to the snapper. It was another hit and the spicy ponzu gave it a nice amount of heat.
Item 5: This is the first time I had sesame with salmon and it was delicious. Buttery and nutty.
Item 6: The yellowtail was served with a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice. A quick and small dip into the soy sauce dish provided enough saltiness to showcase the quality and flavor of the fish.
Item 7: The halibut sushi showcased the beautiful marriage of the fish with yuzu ponzu.
Toro Hand roll
Item 8: Before the hand roll arrived, we were told to eat it immediately and skip the photos because after 9 seconds, the nori becomes soggy. With my camera on the table I quickly dipped the toro hand roll in my soy sauce dish and put it in my mouth. The texture of the nori was unlike anything I have tasted before. I could taste the quality in the flavor and the crunch. Combined with the warm rice and fatty toro, I was on cloud nine. Remember, the key here is to eat it quickly! Luckily, I was able to take photos of the next one that came out thanks to our host.
Boston blue crab roll
Item 9: This was a revelation. This hand roll really highlights the sweet flavor of the crab. It was the best hand roll and the best blue crab I have tasted. I skipped the soy for this one.
Item 10: The scallops were very substantial and I could really taste the firm and sweetness of the scallop. The yuzu ponzu provided a nice finishing touch. This was the last piece of The Nozawa, which was more than satisfying. But we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try some of the other items on the menu, especially the lobster roll.
Lobster Hand roll
This was amazing. Buttery, tender and very fresh. If you do not like seaweed, there is a no roll option.
The albacore belly was out of this world. Packed with all the great flavors of albacore with added fattiness.
One thing we always order when we go out for sushi is sweet shrimp and this did not disappoint. The sweet shrimp had some lemon juice and pepper on it and it just needed a touch of soy to tie it all together. The light crunchiness and sweetness is so good. I was expecting the head to show up, but found out it is not served.
The salmon roe tasted very fresh and had a nice balance of saltiness. It's the best salmon roe I have tasted.
No sushi meal is complete for me without an order of Uni. The amount of uni was very generous. Straight from Catalina, the uni tasted very fresh.
The halibut fin served was from the part where the fine connects to the body of the fish. The texture was slightly firm and the yuzu ponzu provided a nice flavor.
These were large and firm hama hama oysters with a nice salty flavor. Move over kumamoto oysters, I found something even better. After eating almost everything on the menu, we decided to end our meal here.
Overall, the sushi at SugarFISH is phenomenal. I haven't been to Sushi Zo or Urasawa, but based on my past sushi dining experience, I can say without a doubt that this is the best sushi restaurant I have been to. Every bite I took seemed better than the previous and I have nothing but praise for the rice and quality of fish. Each item was expertly seasoned and made with care. The wait staff is attentive and personable. The atmosphere makes someone in jeans or in a little black dress feel comfortable. The best part is that the prices are unbeatable for the quality. I have found my favorite sushi spot in Los Angeles.
5 out of 5 Stars
600 W 7th Street, Suite 150
Los Angeles, CA 9001
Metered, lots and valet.