The other day, Sugarfish Downtown invited us over for dinner.
Sugarfish is a mini chain version of the famed Sushi Nozawa – aka the Sushi Nazi – who is known for his no-California-roll, omakase-only, uber minimalist eat-and-leave approach to sushi. The main difference between Sugarfish and Sushi Nozawa is the price tag – it’s slashed to almost half of what you would pay at the homebase in Studio City. The fish is still picked by the namesake chef himself, and the sushi and sauces are still made to his specifications – but other costs were nixed (e.g., there are no sushi bars in the Sugarfish locations) so that fresh sushi is available to all. Surely an idea that a regular would come up with – one of the owners, Lele Massimini used to drive to Studio City several times a week to satisfy his cravings.
So for this meal, Lele sat down and ate with us to better explain the passion and the concept behind Sugarfish. We all had the big The Nozawa course, which goes something like:
The Nozawa ($35 – $38)
Tuna Sashimi (Big Eye)
Albacore Sushi (2-pc)
Salmon Sushi (2-pc)
Snapper Sushi (2-pc)
Yellowtail Sushi (2-pc)
Halibut Sushi (2-pc)
Toro Hand Roll
Crab Hand Roll
“Daily Special” (2-pc)
Starters: organic edamame. Super plump.
Tuna Sashimi: thick, lean cuts in a light Nozawa-blend ponzu sauce. An orthodox way to start a sushi meal, non?
Mosey on for more flesh.
We had the meal with Nozawa Sake (9). Very dry and enjoyable.
Don’t bother bringing a camera. The sushi rice here is warm and loose – “Tokyo style*” they say – so if you don’t pop it in your mouth the moment it arrives to your table, it’ll fall apart. They only deliver a little at a time because it’ll disintegrate.
The fish here is incredibly fresh – not an ounce of fishy oiliness to the Salmon, just sweet flesh. And the snapper? Clean & ponzu happy. (I don’t care for Albacore much).
Halibut. Ponzu and yuzu pepper. LOVE. I also had some Yellowtail, but I came to realize that anything with ponzu falls apart instantly so I just… ate it. Sorry.
The same goes for the rolls. Since Nozawa and Sugarfish both use a high-crunch seaweed that also sucks up water like a ninja, I didn’t even bother with photos. But I did draw you a picture.
Anyhow, the handrolls are burrito’d with super briny crispy awesomesauce nori. The initial crunch is just heaven. The Toro roll was good, but the blue crab roll? OMG.
I ended my course with Big Scallops. So sweet.
Don ended his with Unagi. Is that the cutest unagi or what? He liked it. He didn’t say so, but I know. He closed his eyes and was really quiet after popping in it into his mouth.
Lele invited us to order supplements as well, so we got the Uni. Catalina Island Uni is the best, he says. And it was.
I liked the Halibut so much that I got the wings. Crunchy. Sour. Yuzu. Ohmy.
Don had some Albacore Belly, an off-the-menu Special. I think he died and went to heaven.
We left happy. But sad at the same time – while the prices are very affordable, there are no Sugarfish locations by our home in the OC. Hopefully that’ll be remedied soon.
Thanks Lele & Sugarfish staff! The meal was very, very, very good. We hope that that you’re having a smooth opening week!
600 W 7th St (right by Bottega Louie)
Los Angeles, CA 90017
* “Tokyo style” or “Edomae” sushi is the predecessor to sushi that we know today – the standard fish-on-top-of-rice form. Up till then, sushi was just rice and fish, heavily vinegared, then pressed into boxes. Edomae sushi was a food-cart fast food, where people would pick up a bite or two and go about their own business. In the 1400s, when there was no refrigeration technology, sushi was often made with preserved or cooked fish – e.g., fish marinated in soy sauce or citrus juice (hence the ponzu), omelet, eel. Edomae sushi also featured a lot of fish that was regional to Tokyo like tuna, salmon**, and saltwater eel.
Edomae handrolls are tubular in shape, and was invented so that the diner wouldn’t end up with sticky hands . A prime example would be the tekka roll, or a handroll of Tokyo’s favorite fish – tuna. Tekka roll was named so because it was a popular snack at gambling halls (or, tekka-jou).
** BUSTED! According to KevinEats, apparently salmon isn’t a traditional Edomae sushi. Guess that’s what I get for relying on Wikipedia so much.