Thursday, July 27, 2006
Red Booths and Raw Fish - Noshi Sushi
4430 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Open 7 days til 9 pm
Google Local Info
It's a fucking zillion degrees in L.A. You've already imposed on your friends to swim in their pool twice, you've seen An Inconvenient Truth and every other thing playing at the Arclight. You've cooked out on the Weber until you have hot dogs coming out your ears. You feel like it's actually too damn hot to eat, but you've got to... and you've got escape the heat.
If you're like me, you want raw fish. Cool, fresh, buttery slabs of sushi. And you'd like it somewhere where you can relax and spend a couple of hours, not propped up on a slightly-too-small plastic chair in a spartan Zen room that should be cool but, because of the small space and the track lighting over the sushi bar, is just a little too close for comfort.
You want to go to Noshi Sushi. I think it's the best sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. Sure, there are places in Beverly Hills that do the thousand-dollar slice of fish. And of course there are the splendors of sushi row on Ventura Blvd. Katsu-ya makes delicious dishes in the "Japanese tapas" style -- things like Carpaccio of Yellowtail with Jalapeño, or Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice Cakes -- as does my new local favorite Shintaro. There's Nozawa with his "Trust Me" special, and his amazing array of tunas and his blue crab rolls. But Nozawa's rice is always a little warm, and authentic or not, I don't want warm rice taking the cool edge off my raw fish on a hot night.
No, those places are great, but when my wife and say "Wanna go for sushi?", we mean Noshi. Why? Big slabs of fresh fish at reasonable prices, consistently amazing hamachi (which is, after all, the best of all possible sushi fish), and the most comfortable dining room of any sushi place in L.A.
It's in what looks like a nuclear fallout shelter on Beverly Blvd., smack in the middle of Koreatown. It's got a huge sushi bar, but it's one of the few sushi joints where I don't usually sit there... because Noshi's got booths. Big ones. Real, honest-to-god, spacious, red naugahyde booths. The place looks like it was probably once a steakhouse, and has the airy, high-ceilinged feel of a Japanese Hamburger Hamlet, without the cheesy decor.
You won't find any fancy, layered, fusion creations here. No specialty rolls. It's stripped down, dude. No fancy "premium cold sake list." They got hot sake, cold sake, and Asahi and Sapporo beer. Small bottles only, no large. No Kirin. Tempura/teriyaki combos and old-school sushi rule the day.
There are a very few specials on the wall. The albacore salad, a mound of crisp cucumber and shredded daikon and carrot with slabs of albacore tuna in a light, tangy dressing, is the perfect starter to beat the heat. After that, you'll recognize the menu from 1980's sushi bars: Tuna, eel, clam, giant clam, octopus, squid, shrimp, and scallop sushi; California rolls; spicy tuna rolls; salmon skin rolls. You can try to ask for your favorite nouvelle sushi option, but if you're going much beyond "Spicy Scallop Hand Roll," expect a blank stare.
But what they do, they do right: big, bold and fresh. My personal favorites are "white fish" (you get halibut unless you specify red snapper, which is usually better) - order it with ponzu sauce. Scallop sushi (ordered with mayo) is never better anywhere than here. And as for the hamachi (yellowtail) sushi... it's simply the most consistently sweet and buttery you'll find. It invokes in this blogger what his wife affectionately calls "hamachi-face" -- that look of utter epicurean delight that makes your face positively melt with joy. Which is much better than having it melt -- like the Nazi dude in Raiders of the Lost Ark -- in the heat outside.
- Arrive early. The restaurant is only open 'til 9:00 pm, and you can have a tough time parking and a long wait in the 7-9 window.
- Bring cash. It's cash only, and they have no ATM. But you don't need to bring too much... unless you eat more than your weight in sushi and drink more than three beers or sakes, you'll have a hard time spending more than $35.00 a person.