[nota bene: it's hard to hit all the hot spots, especially when they're 25+ miles and $50 away. There has also been a severe derth of sushi coverage. This week, we bring you Ms. Erin M, Brentwooder extraordinaire. I met Erin while noshing at Tavern a few months ago and have been stalking her @ErinMcChids ever since.]
Labeled as “Sushi Nozawa’s hip kid brother” by their marketing gurus, Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa’s Marina del Rey location strongly resembles a Pinkberry. Last fall, my friend Molly and I decided to meet there because it is located at a halfway point between our respective homes. Upon entering the restaurant, I was skeptical, but I quickly changed my tune after sampling their omakase “trust me” menu. Both Molly and I were transformed from skeptics to devout disciples of this casual sushi establishment and began making a monthly trek to MDR for our sushi fix.
Imagine my delight when Sugarfish announced on their Facebook fan page that they planned to open a satellite location in my ‘hood. After months of stalking Eater LA I received a tip that Sugarfish Brentwood would open their doors on June 29th. I immediately gave them a jingle to confirm and promptly placed a call to Molly and commanded her to dust off her ball gown because this was our opening night at the Met!
Similar to Paris and Nicole strutting down the red carpet circa the 2004 MTV Movie Awards Molly and I were welcomed warmly by the familiar managers of the MDR location. The tall blonde girl and her little friend have arrived! After the fanfare died down, we were promptly seated in a lovely dining room composed dark wood and soft lighting tucked away into a cozy corner of a Brentwood strip mall. Staring at each other in disbelief, this room did not resemble a Pinkberry at all. Admittedly I was nervous that the Nozawa gods fancied up the menu AND the prices for the Brentwood crowd. Silly girl, this isn’t a Sam Nazarian venture! Once again Nozawa proved me wrong.
I turned to my friendly waitress and ordered my usual “Trust Me” omakase selection. The tuna sashimi and edamame arrive first to wet the appetite. The edamame is pedestrian, but the tuna sashimi is a star. Chilly, ruby red chunks of tuna tossed in a scallion ponzu play a symphony in your mouth and leave you yearning for your next course. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Like magic, my next offering appears. The server instructs me to eat the sushi promptly and I am forced to ignore Molly, who is eyeing my raw fish feast like a shark. The Nozawa rule is to eat the creations at the height of their freshness to fully enjoy the flavor and the warm rice. Not one to argue, I pick up the delicate Scottish salmon dusted with sesame seeds and pop it into my mouth. As a salmon lover, I’m delighted with the rich flavor of the fish contrasting with the delicate, warm sushi rice. As a salmon hater, Molly is amazed that she is not only is able to tolerate the fish, but is happy to devour the second piece that has been placed before her. A few more sushi courses arrive including a sweet shrimp sushi and halibut with spicy ponzu. Both are very solid selections and never disappoint, but I have my eye on the sushi prize—the albacore sushi. The diamond in the Sugarfish jewelry box arrives. I sample the translucent albacore and have a downright religious experience. Molly’s eyes roll back in ecstasy—she feels the same way. We look at one another, grin like Cheshire cats, and nod knowingly that before the meal is over, one of us will ask the waitress for an extra order of the melt-in-your-mouth fish to repeat the process of sheer delight.
Shortly after we finish our sushi we are delivered two no frills hand rolls: blue crab and toro. They are a fabulous way to end a delicious meal. Sugarfish rolls are not named after a celebrity, you will not discover fried tentacles hanging out of the ends, nor will they attempt to recreate your morning meal at Nate and Al’s by pairing fish with cream cheese. These two are roll simplicity at its finest. The generous portions of decadent toro and chunky, sweet blue crab wrapped in crispy planks of seaweed engulf my palate like a warm blanket and let me know that another wonderful meal at Sugarfish is complete…well, except for that extra order of albacore.
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