Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sugarfish: Nozawa Family Extends Its Tentacles to DTLA

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa
600 W 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 627-3000


Don't come to Sugarfish wanting a Philly roll, a lobster roll with miso sauce, a simple California roll or anything covered in dynamite or mixed with mayonnaise.  Sugarfish is a sushi purist's delight, simply very fresh fish chosen with the highest standards in mind and prepared one way, Nozawa's way. Nothing more, nothing less.


Sugarfish is the brain child of infamous sushi nazi Chef Kazunori Nozawa, his son Tom Nozawa, Jerry Greenberg and Emanuele Massimini. This group of visionaries became inspired to expand Chef Nozawa's ideals of sushi purism far beyond Studio City's Sushi Nozawa location.


The interior of Sugarfish is beautifully modern and sleek. It mixes natural textures of wood, glass, marble and metal creating a simple space that does not detract nor distract from the beauty of the food in front of you. 


You aren't here to look at photography, a bar crowd, or the Mercedes pulling up outside. Make no mistake, you are here to look at the beautiful fish prepared very simply to enhance not hide its natural quality and flavors. You are here to eat the best sushi in the simplest sense of the word.


Tweeting with a friend who visited recently, she commented she found Sugarfish to be austere in its approach. Typically when someone tells me the fish was fresh but they found the menu boring, this is a sign we are talking about my kind of sushi. Kiyosaku in Palm Springs (of all places) fits this bill, as does Mitch's in Honolulu by the airport. As the Sugarfish menu above states, "Great sushi highlights the quality of the ingredients instead of 'fancy sauces' and rolls." I respond to this philosophy and am excited Sugarfish is 1.5 miles away from my front door and priced accessibly enough for regular visits.


There are three prix-fixe price levels.  See above. On the night in question, D and I both enjoyed The Nozawa. Most nights however, my appetite would be more than sated by the Trust Me/Lite, and D's by the regular Trust Me.


The Nozawa clan cares about the environment by using Natura filtered water instead of disposable bottles. Loves.


And our meal begins. We both nosh on a small plate of eda mame.


Tuna sashimi in housemade ponzu with green onions. Generously sized, delicious.


Round one of sushi.  From the top: salmon nigiri with sesame seeds, snapper with chile ponzu, albacore with ponzu and yuzu.  Important to note is the rice Nozawa edict. Rice needs to be warm and loosely packed in order to match the textures of the fish, to attain that melt-in-your-mouth quality with each bite.  A new batch of sushi rice is made every 20 minutes. Diners are not to dip any previously sauced fish into shoyu.


Round three: yellowtail, halibut with yuzu ponzu, scallop with yuzu ponzu. You had me at scallop, my ultimate favorite nigiri.  Nozawa makes the initial cuts of all purchased fish for all restaurants (Sushi Nozawa and Sugarfish locations) as well as all sauces himself at a central location ensuring consistent quality in all restaurants.


Sugarfish is able to offer Nozawa quality food because Nozawa himself is not constructing your meal himself. The chefs that are making your sushi were not trained at a sushi school, they were trained by Nozawa himself. Nozawa maintains a heavy role in ensuring adherence to his own high standards in every kitchen.


Toro handroll. I love a handroll. However, a Nozawa handroll gives the term handroll new meaning. I will never consider a tuna handroll the same way, my handroll schema has been forever altered.  My sushi universe shifted when I ate this roll. I kid you not. 


Blue crab handroll. The greatness of these handrolls is influenced by two things: the beautifully warm and loosely packed rice within and the quality of the nori.  When each handroll is brought to the table, we are instructed to eat it immediately. I was actually asked not to take any pictures before I ate because the time it would take to set up the shot would detract from the quality of the food I was about to eat. Letting the roll sit causes the nori to soak up the moisture from the rice, lessening the satisfying crunch and toasty flavors of the nori. I shot anyway, but trust me, I am not one to spend 3 minutes setting up a shot. Each shot took < 20 seconds. Not kidding.  When you go, and I suggest you go, don't shoot. Eat.


I have not had better sushi.  Every single bite was perfection. Trust me. The end.

This was a sponsored meal, courtesy of Team Nozawa. My deepest thanks and culinary appreciation for the meal. See you soon on my dime.


ekd said...

Omigosh this is MY kinda place too! Pls to take me here asap. I want to eat it NOW.

Marie said...

I am surprised by the prices! I have no excuse now.

weezermonkey said...

Wow! That good, huh?

lynn said...

great post! i just had my complimentary blogger meal there and wa seriously blown away! your pix are GORGEOUS.

Sarah K. said...

wow- your writing and these photos-- like high-end sushi porn. srsly mouth-watering and blushing just writing this.
can't wait until the hubs is well again, we have special sushi celebration planned and now I know just where we shall go

Darin said...

I've been hearing a lot recently about this place...I guess because it just opened. I live and work downtown, so this definitely looks like a must-try soon!

Mike said...

Love your post. Love your commentary too. Everyone talks about the neta (toppings) on nigirizushi, but not many people acknowledge the importance of the rice.

When's the last time you enjoyed a quarter pound compressed lump of overcooked rice with a fresh fish topping? Kudos, great post!

Anonymous said...

" Nozawa makes the initial cuts of all purchased fish for all restaurants ... ... himself at a central location ...." Does this mean that the fish is actually unpacked at the "central" location, pre-cut, and then shipped to the branch? Seems like that additional transporttation and handling would not necessarily serve the fish well...

Anonymous said...

Don't shoot, just eat? Uh oh, dilemma.