Amongst my friends in the Asian community, many of us go out of our way to eat at non-Americanized spots (hey, I still eat at Taco Bell, and many teriyaki bowls have crossed my path).
If you can relate, regardless of who you are, read on because that is what we all have in common. We all love the unadulterated culture and craft of Japan.
When it comes to sushi, there are no Americanized sushi restaurants that have attained/maintained a Michelin Star, so my focus will be on authentic Japanese sushi bars.
A combo (“supreme”) pizza, a 7-layer burrito, to salmon skin handrolls are all part of my diet. Although so are authentic dishes such as parmigiana di melanzane (baked eggplant), birria de chivo (braised goat), and all sorts of nigiri sushi (who doesn’t like it raw).
As an American, I love American cuisine, but the American versions either historically came about out of necessity or through the adaptation/convergence of cultures. Unfortunately, some of our American food culture also came about through pure dumbassery.
“Made in Japan” Reflects the Japanese Culture and Can Be Experienced in an Authentic Japanese Sushi Bar
The world we live in now is all about which of us humans are down to learn about any given topic (like wanting to experience a culture through food), or you are the type where you are like “naw, I’m good” (get me my eff’n turkey pot pie women). Whichever camp you lie in, it’s all good, except if you are here, I assume you are the former.
The way I define “authentic” food is that it reflects the country they are touting it to be (if Japanese, it should reflect its 2,600+ y/o food culture). On the same note, if you are doing an “American” or “Japanese inspired” restaurant, have at it because we are an ever-changing and innovative 245-year-old food culture that blends our ethnic roots into a stuffed crust pizza.
Luckily for many of us in Los Angeles, we have a massive population of first-generation immigrants in this city to expose us to their thousand-year-old food cultures from China, Iran, India, to Japan. It’s these communities that allow us to immerse ourselves into the total experience (without these communities, you have something more like Paris in Vegas).
The Differences From Americanized Sushi
Aside from being highly specialized in only sushi, an American place will offer teriyaki, rolls, poke, Chinese food, tempura, to noodle dishes, a Japanese sushi bar only offers sushi. Except the most distinctive difference would be the omotenashi (Japanese hospitality). If you have never experienced it, you will feel like a rockstar/celebrity, and they are not doing it for tips either (no tipping in Japan, but don’t pull that line on the servers in the US).
Japan ranks 2nd in the world for the most Michelin Starred businesses from restaurants, hotels, and ryokans (France is #1). The numbers are 293 in and around Tokyo and 300 in Osaka/Kyoto.
Here You Go, Every Michelin and Authentic Japanese Sushi Bar in the Los Angeles Metro Area
I have denoted all the current Michelin Starred businesses with an “*,” and businesses that had received a Michelin star in the past with “(*).” Along with including the head chef/owner of the business, and a link to any information regarding the chef or business owner.
If you are looking for the best omakase (chef’s choice) in Los Angeles, this is the list you will want to start with.
- (*)Asanebo, Studio City / Chef Tetsuya Nakao (LA Times/asanebo)
- Brothers, Woodland Hills / Chef-owner Mark Okuda (Instagram)
- Hayama, Sawtelle / Chef-owner Toshi Sugiura (LA Times)
- Masakazu, Westwood Ct / Chef Shinichi Akazawa (Kevin Eats)
- (*)Matsuhisa, Beverly Hills / Chef-owner Nobu Matsuhisama (Matsuhisa)
- Matsumoto, Beverly Blvd / Chef Naruki Matsumoto (Matsumoto)
- *Morihiro, Glendale Blvd / Chef-owner Morihiro Onodera (MoriOnodera)
- *Mori Sushi, Pico Blvd / Chef Masanori “Maru” Nagano (Michelin Guide)
- Nobu, multiple locations / Chef/partner Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu Restaurant)
- *Nozawa Bar, Beverly Hills / Chef Osamu Fujita (MichelinGuide)
- Katsuya, multiple locations / Chef Katsuya Uechi (SBE)
- *Shin Sushi, Encino / Chef-owner Taketoshi Azumi (LA Times)
- *Shunji, Santa Monica / Chef-owner Shunji Nakao (Shunji-ns)
- Sugarfish, multiple locations / Chef Kazunori Nozawa (Wikipedia)
- Sushi Enya, 1st St. / Beverly Hills / Chef Kimiyasu Enya (Sushi Enya)
- Sushi Gen, 2nd St. / Owner Toshiyaki Toyoshima (DiscoverNikkei)
- **Sushi Ginza Onodera, W. Hollywood / Exec Chef Yohei Matsuki (Onodera LA)
- Sushi Go 55, Little Tokyo Galleria / The Morishita family (Facebook)
- Sushi Iki, Tarzana / Chef Hiroyuki Masato & Eddie Okamoto (Voyage LA)
- *Sushi I-naba, Manhattan Beach / Chef-owner Yasuhiro Hirano (Daily Breeze)
- Sushi Kaneyoshi, E. 1st St. / Chef Inoue Yoshiyuki (Kevin Eats)
- Sushi Miyagi, Brentwood Village / Chef Shinichi Miyagi (Sushi Miyagi USA)
- Sushi Note, Sherman Oaks / Chef Kiminobu Saito (Sushi Note LA)
- Sushi Sasabune, multiple locations / Chef Hiroki/Kusuhara (Sushi Sasabune)
- Sushi Takeda, Weller Court / Chef Hide Takeda (Food Talk Central)
- Sushi Tama, N. Robertson Blvd / Chef Hideyuki Yoshimoto (Showa)
- (*)Sushi Zo, multiple locations / Chef-owner Keizo Seki (Sushi Zo)
- Tsujita Sushi, Sawtelle Blvd / Chef Shigeru Kato (LA Times)
- Umeda, Melrose Ave / Chef-owner Takuya Umeda (Umeda Restaurant)
- *Q, W. 7th St. / Chef Hiroyuki Naruke (Q Sushi LA)
Three Standout Michelin Star Spots (Worth a Stop/Detour) For Japanese Cuisine
Japanese cuisine is not all about sushi, and there are tempura, ramen, and kappo to kaiseki cuisine restaurants with Michelin Stars (well in, Japan, and not all here in the United States).
Kaiseki-ryōri is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner and kappo (cut and cook) falls in between kaiseki and an izakaya, it’s more casual.
- **Hayato, E. 7th St. / Chef-owner Brandon Hayato Go’s (hayatorestaurant)
- **n/Naka, Overland Ave / Chef-owner Niki Nakayama (n-naka)
- *Shibumi, S. Hill/DTLA / Chef-owner David Schlosser (shibumidtla)
Whatever Happened to Urasawa in Beverly Hills
Some of you may remember the two Michelin Star Urasawa (chef Hiroyuki Urasawa) and their pricy AF $400 omakase. If you do, you may also remember their labor law lawsuits, and how they just disappeared off the map. So I looked them up, and you can read what happened to them via the Hollywood Reporter. BTW, chicken and turkey pot pie is one of my favorites.