Nozawa Bar has been one of my sushi fantasies for a long time, the place you go for a 20+ course carefully selected sushi and seafood Japanese tasting menu for your birthday or special occasion. I had heard tales of this secret place since it opened in April 2013. After waiting many years in LA to experience this tradition-based omakase sushi meal, 2019 was going to my year! I figured, why not? I could be dead tomorrow.
After arriving at LA’s beloved sushi restaurant, SUGARFISH in Beverly Hills, I was escorted to the back of the restaurant to a small, intimate private sushi bar for just ten people – the Nozawa Bar. Saki was poured and one of my first luscious bites may have been my favorite – the Baja California Bluefin Tuna.
Chef Nozawa and the SUGARFISH team invited Master Chef Osamu Fujita to serve as Executive Chef. Chef Fujita was born into a long line of prestigious chefs in Japan. Nozawa and Fujita have been friends since they worked together 30 years ago. The menu is created early each morning when Nozawa and Fujita visit the LA fish markets to select the fish for the day.
The multi-course menu features primarily nigiri sushi plus sashimi and handrolls, AND a lot of surprises! Adventurous sushi eaters will adore trying new dishes. Many firsts for me consisted of clear Japanese jellyfish in a bowl, monkfish liver in a little mound, needlefish, and holy live Japanese octopus! Not a small one like we’ve seen in Hawaii or Tulum, but one the chef lifted its arm with tentacles straight up to the ceiling that must have been the length of my body. We watched as he carefully sworded off the tentacles to reveal the several inch white squid.
During the meal, each course is served to all guests at once. The cadence and tempo of the meal have been mindfully created to allow each course to be enjoyed to the fullest. The couple to my right appeared to be regulars as they bragged or raved about how they like excellent sushi and this was not a special occasion for them. I noticed the woman had passed on several courses, probably because she knew she had to save room for her favorite dishes.
My favorite delights included the generous Santa Barbara Uni nigiri (often bigger than the Japanese version), Maine Lobster Handroll, Bluefin Toro Handroll, Japanese Oysters, Ruby Snapper, and Alaskan Ikura (salmon eggs) gunkan nigiri.
Some of the other courses included a baby Japanese Sumi Ika (squid) nigiri, Hokkaido Scallop, Sea Eel, and Giant Clam. By course 21, I was having a hard time taking any more in, and my bites became slower because I really wanted to appreciate the food, especially my Maine Lobster Handroll. Then came even more – Tamago nigiri, a sweet light folded egg omelet that tasted like a dessert egg custard, often served at the end of a sushi meal to bridge between the savory and sweet courses. A dessert finale included Matcha Green Tea Sorbet and berries. It was hard to even move after this grand sushi affair.
Nozawa Bar should be on every list for the absolute best restaurant in LA. It could be the best meal of your life.
Dinner seatings are $175 and need to be booked in advance online or by phone.
212 North Cañon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210