Nozawa Bar. Reclaim Glory or Not?

Nozawa Bar was considered the best omakase in LA when it was located in Studio City and before the SugarFish chain. There were numerous stories of Nozawa being a sushi “nazi” and even kicking Brad Pitt out for doing something he did not approve.

Now, fast forward to the present and the sushi game has changed dramatically since Nozawa vacated the throne.

There were numerous stories of Nozawa being a sushi “nazi” and even kicking Brad Pitt out for doing something he did not approve.

Nozawa Bar los Angeles
Spanish Toro from Nozawa Bar.

Nozawa is located in the back of SugarFish in Beverly Hills, CA. It’s an intimate setting with no more than 10 seats around the sushi bar. The sushi bar is your typical high-end decor. The simple, clean and classic wood finish with a clear view of sushi preparation. Chef Fujita is the executive chef and trained under Nozawa for many years. I would have preferred Nozawa but it won’t happened since he is retired now.

Chef Fujita is a very funny guy. Also, he is your typical Japanese chef who is very proud of his and Japanese cuisine in general. He speaks highly of other ethnicity’s technique and gives his opinion about other high-end Japanese restaurants in the area.  Before sushi, Fujita’s primary focus was Kyoto cuisine aka Kaiseki.  We had a long discussion about Kaiseki and how hard it is to get an authentic Kaiseki dining experience outside of Kyoto.  It’s often imitated but never duplicated.

Now, the food. Omakase only with a total of 22 courses and you’re done within 1.5 hours. I definitely like the pace because I get restless when I sit through anything more than a 2 hour dining experience.

  1. Spanish Toro – Every chef has their signature dish and this is Nozawa’s signature dish.  It was one of the first courses to come out and definitely set the tone for the rest of the night.  The soft texture of the toro complemented the rice very well.  The temperature of the rice was near perfect and the vinegar wasn’t noticeably at all.
  2. Uni – Chef Fujita came out swinging from the start.  The crunchy nori laid between the warm rice and decadent uni.  The first bite consisted of the crunch from the nori.  The silky uni hits the top of your mouth then your palate as your teeth made its way through the rice.  It’s definitely a well thought out dish.
  3. Blue Crab Roll – The Blue Crab roll is another signature dish from Nozawa and it’s also served at SugarFish.  It’s one of the most talked about dishes at SugarFish.  The hype is real, folks.  The simplicity of the dish and ingredients is what makes it great.  The sweet crab blended with the warm rice and wrapped in crunchy nori is heaven on earth.
  4. Spanish Mackerel – The Spanish Mackerel is the make or break it for a sushi chef.  There are very few high-end establishments that get this dish right.  However, Nozawa Bar came close.  The Spanish Mackerel didn’t do it for me.  It had remnants of piscine.  It was slightly but I was disappointed Fujita didn’t get it.  The texture of the fish was smooth and buttery but the slight fishy taste of it ruined any hope for glory.
Nozawa Bar los Angeles
Blue Crab roll. The humble beginnings of Kazunori.

The one thing I didn’t like about Nozawa Bar was the overuse of soy sauce on the nigiri and some pieces were a little to large. It wasn’t balance very well with the rice. The rice was soaked with soy sauce on multiple dishes and really took away from the rice. The overuse killed the natural flavors of the fish. It’s blasphemous to have the soy sauce touch the rice. I think it had a lot to do with the young apprentice cause Chef Fujita was giving him lessons during the dinner.

Overall, Nozawa Bar is definitely in the upper echelon of high-end sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.  Do I think it takes the crown back? Unfortunately, no.  For a nigiri omakase, Sushi Zo is the best sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. For a modern Kaiseki and nigiri experience, the crown would be held by Urasawa in Beverly Hills.  However, Nozawa Bar is definitely at #2 in Los Angeles for a nigiri omakase.

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Last updated on January 15, 2021 4:16 AM
  • 8.5/10
    Service - 8.5/10
  • 7/10
    Presentation - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Flavor - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Ambiance - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Decor - 8.5/10
8/10

Summary

Nozawa Bar is a solid Omakase restaurant in Beverly Hills. The former Los Angeles champ is right behind Sushi Zo for Los Angeles’ best omakase restaurant. The progression of the dishes are well thought out and a great dining experience for any sushi connoisseur.