By Michele E. Buttelman
California has long been the leader of innovation in entertainment, popular culture and other areas of American life. Sushi is no exception. The popularity of sushi in the United States can be traced to the early- to mid-1960s in California.
Kawafuku in Little Tokyo opened in 1966 in Los Angeles. It is considered to be the first “real” sushi restaurant in the country.
Despite the ravages of the pandemic on the restaurant scene in the U.S., Southern California remains the sushi capital of the country.
The Santa Clarita Valley is home to more than a dozen excellent sushi restaurants, all with devoted followers, but it’s also fun to experience sushi at the hands of some of the most skillful sushi chefs in the nation.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
609 North La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dinner seatings Tuesday-Saturday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. only.
This unique omakase experience is one you shouldn’t miss if you’ve never tried Edomae-style sushi.
Meticulous presentation, exquisite food and amazing service. At $400 per person this isn’t a restaurant you’ll frequent often, but for a once-in-a-lifetime meal it is truly spectacular.
Executive Chef Yohei Matsuki serves quality Edomae-style traditional sushi with fish imported from Toyosu Fish Market and Niigata prefecture.
The Edomae sushi style involves using the aging process to preserve the fish, develop umami flavors and create a more tender texture. A variety of methods are employed, including marinating in soy sauce, simmering in broth and curing in salt or kombu sea kelp, from a few hours to several days.
At Sushi Ginza Onodera, when fish arrives from Japan, the chefs examine it and decide the best Edomae techniques to use for each individual fish.
In awarding Sushi Ginza Onodera two Michelin stars, the guide notes: “Fish of this caliber is not easy to find and the kitchen gives each morsel the painstaking care it deserves.”
26850 Sierra Highway, Suite A10
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Open daily at 11:30 a.m.
Consistently getting rave reviews, Sushi 661 is the Santa Clarita Valley’s premier sushi bar and restaurant experience. Not only does Sushi 661 feature “as fresh as it gets” sushi, but it also offers Bento and Ramen to soothe your soul and comfort your heart.
Opened in 2014, many of the specialty rolls on the menu, estimated at more than 30, have been named and created by the restaurant’s devoted fans.
Its collection of quality sake is also a plus for those enjoying the complete sushi experience.
22913 Soledad Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Open weekdays 11:30 a.m. Weekends at noon.
Described by many SCV fans as “the No. 1 go-to sushi place” Achita Sushi has a devoted following for its friendly atmosphere, extensive menu and reasonable prices.
The 911 Roll with rice paper is highly recommended as well as the Small Bites menu, where guests can choose small portions of many items.
Blue fin, albacore belly or big eye are also crowd favorites as well as the baked salmon roll.
The emphasis on freshness gets high marks from customers.
18812 Soledad Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91351
Open Monday-Saturday at noon, Sunday at 2 p.m.
Customers recommend the Boom Boom Pow sashimi plate, the Fire Fire specialty roll, tempura shrimp and the ramen.
The freshness and high quality of the seafood earn top marks from SCV sushi customers.
Described as “always consistent, always delicious,” this is one of the hidden gems of the SCV.
The menu includes sushi, sashimi, hand rolls, tempura and chicken katsu.
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St. No. 307
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Open Tuesday-Saturday lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; dinner 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Owner-chef Hide Takeda’s intimate omakase experience in Little Tokyo is one of the most talked-about sushi dinners in Los Angeles.
The fish is meticulously sourced from California as well as the Toyosu Market in Tokyo.
Sushi Takeda brings diners a unique experience, which showcases passion for the sushi craft.
Each fish is individually aged, cured and marinated with painstaking detail and dedication to the Edomae style, the result of years of training and dedication.
The shari (sushi rice) is a labor of love and effort, which Takeda spent years fine-tuning to achieve optimal results. The effort gone into achieving that “perfect bite” shows up clearly at Sushi Takeda.
In addition to the incredible sushi, Takeda’s miso soup, the broth made with an infusion of crushed spot prawn shells, is not to be missed. It’s a cozy soup that you think about long after you’ve left the restaurant.
Sushi Takeda offers two levels of omakase, from $110 at lunch to $280 for dinner. You can also order a nigiri-only menu for $140. Reservations available on Tock.