Sugarfish (Marina Del Rey)

SugarfishEver since Sugarfish opened in Marina Del Rey, I was skeptical.  How good is a sushi restaurant that doesn’t even have a proper sushi bar to sit at? Well, I finally broke down and tried the place because I didn’t want to dislike it without first eating there. I have to admit, the food wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Sugarfish markets itself as Sushi Nozawa’s hip kid brother which is spot on in describing the restaurant.  Its minimalist, modern design is reminiscent of a Pinkberry.  Some say the restaurant feels clean. To me, it feels soulless.

My dining companion and I split The Nozawa ($34) for for lunch which includes:

  • edamame
  • tuna sashimi
  • albacore nigiri (2 pc)
  • salmon nigiri (2pc)
  • red snapper nigiri (2pc)
  • yellow tail nigiri (2pc)
  • halibut nigiri (2pc)
  • toro hand roll
  • crab hand roll

The tuna sashimi was sort of a misnomer.  I thought it was going to be just slices of tuna, simple and pure, but it was actually chunks of tuna tossed in a strong ponzu sauce. You could even call it poki if you wanted to. The sauce was citrusy and good, but overwhelmed the fish entirely. I couldn’t really tell if the fish was good or not in that dish because it was so hard to taste anything other than the sauce.


The rest of the meal thankfully was better.  The red snapper was tender and fresh tasting. The salmon was good and rich and free of any chewy bits.  The yellow tail was the perfect texture.  My crab hand roll came with the seaweed still crisp.  Even the rice was good — loosely packed with just the right amount of seasoning and even still a bit warm.

I was pleasantly surprised that the quality of fish was so good for a setting that looks so corporate. Other than the tuna dish, each bite tasted clean and fresh. Sugarfish is a place to visit when you’re in the mood for something more mellow, not a crazily-named roll. It’s also nice that the price on the menu for everything includes tax and gratuity, so there’s no need to think too much when the bill comes.

Although the fish all tasted better than expected, I don’t think I’ll be returning to Sugarfish anytime soon. For the price point, I prefer to go to Kiriko or K-Zo, where I get fish that’s a good quality, a little more interesting, and most of all, where the setting isn’t so sterile.

4722 1/4 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 306-6300

Wakasaya in Little Tokyo

Imagine Chipotle, except instead of pseudo-Mexican food, it’s all Japanese food and instead of ordering at a counter, all the ingredients for the combination can be ordered off a menu.  That’s Wakasaya.

I happened upon this restaurant accidentally when I wanted to visit Little Tokyo downtown for lunch. My original plan was to get a bowl of ramen at Daikokuya, but the line was just too long and I didn’t want to wait hours for lunch. I walked through the Little Tokyo plaza and saw Wakasaya and thought, “why not?”

Wakasaya Chirashi

Their main claim to fame is a fully cusotmizable donburi, although it’s more like chirashi for me.  Pick any combination of available toppings, which include staples like tuna, salmon, fish roe, and eel, and they’ll serve it to you over rice.  I went with yellowtail, salmon, and uni.

The fish quality wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t good.  For a $15 bowl, I expected better. I could have gotten better quality fish from a supermarket chirashi but hey, at least the rice was warm here. I’m amazed that Wakasaya can stay in business with so many better sushi restaurants within walking distance.

335 East 2nd St
104-106 Japanese Village Plaza Mall

Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 621-2121

Al Bap @ A-Won

al bup @ A-Won

I went to A-Won a few weeks ago. Though I enjoyed the massively large bowl of sashimi salad, I wasn’t impressed. I went back last week with the lovely Jessica of eat.sip.chew and we both ordered the al bap. I loved it.

The al bap at A-Won is a gigantic bowl of rice topped with plentiful helpings of fish roe, uni, seaweed, preserved fish, pickled radish, and a few other treats. It was a fantastically colored flavor party in my mouth. The eggs popped delicately between my teeth and every mouthful was delightfully decadent.

I should have taken Jonathan Gold’s word the first time when he recommended the al bap in his LA Weekly writeup of it, but for some reason, I ordered something different my first time there. I’ve learned my lesson. From now on, it’s al bap all day long at A-Won.

A-Won Japanese Restaurant
913 1/2 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA‎
(213) 389-6764‎
(park in the lot or on the street)