Sushi Gen- Best Japanese Restaurant LA
In cities across the globe that boast an ethnic town such as Chinatown, Koreatown or Little Italy, the restaurants of those “towns” are typically shunned by locals due to the fact that they tend to cater to tourists. Serving up inauthentic food at often ridiculous prices with gimmicky set menus all over the place, it’s no wonder locals stay away. The first time I visited Sushi Gen in LA’s Little Tokyo, I admit I wasn’t expecting much despite the long row of Japanese chefs at the bar and the many Japanese folks eating there.
It was to my great surprise that this hole-in-the-wall created some of the best sushi east of Japan. If it’s your first time, I suggest taking a seat at the bar so you can watch the mastery of the native sushi chefs, adeptly maneuvering balls of fresh sushi rice and pieces of fish into delicate bites of perfection.
The Yellowtail Belly had a firm texture, long, lean with a mild, clean flavor- great to start the meal. The Japanese Snapper was my favorite of the evening, topped with a pickled yuzu glaze. That one bite brought back memories of sitting seaside in Japan, having local sashimi masters serve fish just caught with nothing more than a dash of soy sauce and lime juice. A close second was the Halibut with ponzu sauce, the freshness of the fish and expert slicing speaking volumes on how simplicity reigns supreme under the right chef’s hands.
Every piece of fish that came out that evening was perfection in simplicity, from the buttery Fatty Tuna to the salmon, Monkfish liver and spicy Mentaiko. A quick glance around the packed restaurant confirmed that Sushi Gen had indeed earned its 20+ year reputation as one of LA’s best sushi restaurants. Young and old alike, students to Hollywood celebs, native Japanese to Americans, Sushi Gen’s fanatical following is more than well deserved. Watch and chat with any of the chefs to discover why the authentic art of sushi is not something one can master in a year, learning from non-natives who’ve taken one or two classes in Japan and crown themselves sushi sensei.
The way the fish is cut, the way the rice is seasoned, even the way the slices of fish are placed on the rice- these are details that Sushi Gen’s adepts have taken years in their native Japan to study. We are fortunate enough to partake in their beautiful cultural heritage via little gifts to our palates.