Los Angeles is a glimmering sushi paradise. And it should be – the ocean is right there. But perhaps more importantly, we have a well-established tradition of sushi restaurants that know exactly what they’re doing. Urasawa, Matsuhisa, Nozawa, Shunji, Zo. These are some of the biggest names in sushi and Los Angeles has all of them.
But you may not be in the market to spend an entire paycheck on two hours’ worth of omakase tonight. Or any night really. If you’ve figured out a way to walk out of Urasawa for under $700 per person, please email us immediately.
So what does this leave us with? Salmonella from an LAX Tuna roll? Hardly. Los Angeles is filled with fantastic affordable sushi spots. You just have to know where to find them. This guide is here to help.
Sushi Gen is a bona fide institution. This Little Tokyo strip mall joint has top-notch sushi, a relatively lively atmosphere, and some of the most affordable sushi downtown. You’ll probably encounter a wait at most points in the day, but it’s worth it for the legendary sashimi platter ($15 at lunch, $26 at dinner). Watching one get delivered to your table is a very necessary LA experience.
As a general rule, sushi joints attached to fast food burger chains should probably be avoided. Unless that place is Got Sushi in Northridge. Located across from the CSUN campus, this magic little place has been a secret among students for a while, but the sushi and the overall experience here are worth the drive. We order the salmon belly with caviar, the rice-less Alex Roll, and anything the chef tells us to get off the daily sushi menu.
If you’re tired of hearing about how great Sugarfish is, we have nothing in common. Because it’s hard to find higher-quality sushi at these types of prices in all of Los Angeles. You’re looking at an eight-course sushi/sashimi experience for around $30, and there’s probably a location within a 15-minute drive of your house.
This tiny spot in Sherman Oaks couldn’t be less similar to the clubs pretending to be restaurants also called Katsuya. Instead of people wearing bandage dresses eating $20 rolls, there are couples on casual date nights having a quick meal at the sushi bar before a movie. The sushi here is not only better than what you’d get at the Hollywood Katsuya, but about a third of the price. It’s a great spot to get a mix of things - some crispy rice with spicy tuna, a few nigiri, and a roll or two - before heading to a movie at the Arclight down the street.
Hide is - here it comes - pretty hidden on Sawtelle. But once you find it, you will be rewarded with fresh, cheap sashimi. For $16.50, you can get an 11-piece sashimi platter, and not just at lunchtime like other similar places around town. Cash only.
This hand-roll-only chain concept from Sugarfish brings in the crowds, but the quality of fish makes the wait worth it. And once you’re seated, it’s an efficient, cheap, and delicious experience. Sit at the bar inside and for $19 you’ll be taken on a five-piece hand roll expedition that will leave you not only happy but actually full until dinner.
Ventura Blvd. in Studio City has no shortage of affordable sushi joints. But affordable joints that actually have quality sushi is another story. That’s what you’ll find at Iroha, a hard-to-locate spot behind a fortune teller business in the corner of a shared parking lot. Highlights here include a fantastic spicy miso soup to warm your cold heart, spicy crab crispy rice cakes, and sushi/sashimi lunch combinations that range from $12 to $30. There’s also an enclosed patio area that makes you feel like you’re eating sushi in the jungle.
Unlike a lot of affordable sushi places, Sushi Time’s bread and butter is not its lunch deals. In fact, it’s not even open for lunch. This small spot in Beverly Grove is easily the best option for a reasonable sushi dinner in the neighborhood. Most of their sushi and sashimi runs in the $5-$8 range and all daily specials are written on pieces of paper stapled to the wall. The yellowtail, sweet shrimp, and amberjack are great here.
Sushi Spot19658 Ventura Blvd
Sushi Spot is a classic Valley strip mall sushi joint. Apart from some instructions on a whiteboard telling you not to get your cell phone out, the space is bare bones, but the sushi is great. And pretty inexpensive - order the $37 omakase and you’ll get salmon and tuna nigiri, stuffed squid, some eel, and maybe a baked clam. If you’re not that hungry, go for the classic tuna trio instead.
Culver City was, until recently, a sushi desert - but then Uzumaki arrived. The calm, wood-filled space and $23 set menu feel Sugarfish-ish in all the right ways, the fish is great quality for the price, and if you’re not in the mood for omakase, you can order a la carte without your check getting out of control. Use it for a small team lunch or casual midweek dinner that doesn’t involve an hour and a half wait.
Murakami has a fairly extensive menu, but it all boils down to two words: sushi bowls. For $14-$20, you can mix and match any number of proteins and toppings to get your creation exactly to your liking. If it all sounds a bit too Yogurtland for you, fear not. Murakami’s sit-down service works for everything from a quick, solo lunch to a casual first-date spot.
Soregashi is located in a strip mall right at Santa Monica and Highland (the one with the hot pink Trejo’s Donuts stand out front) and has quietly become one of the area’s most reliable sushi spots. From noon-2:30pm Tuesday through Friday, you’ll find sashimi platters, sushi combinations, chirashi bowls, and broiled fish sets ranging from $12 to $30. If you’re looking to stray from the lunch menu or head over for dinner, all their a la carte sushi is reasonably priced as well.
Noma in Santa Monica has built a following thanks to its large list of cheap specialty rolls and an atmosphere that makes the most of its strip-mall location. The interior feels much more like a traditional Japanese tavern than a sushi bar and that gives the whole operation a lively energy. Everything is good here, but we always go straight for the Garlic Lover’s Albacore.
If you work in Encino, Okumura is a good place to keep in your back pocket. Come on your own, sit at the sushi bar, and check in with the chef about what they’ve got in fresh for nigiri (we’ve had some excellent amberjack and hamachi here) - or grab a table with your work friends and order a bunch of rolls. Okumura is a crowd pleaser.
Hara is not where you go for fresh cut sushi and sparkling sashimi platters. This is crowd-pleasing, sauce-doused, specialty roll nirvana and we want it all. You go to Hara with big groups because even those disgusted by raw fish can find something that makes them happy. Like sake. Which is 50% off during their all-day Happy Hour, along with basically everything else in the restaurant.
This West LA sushi spot has a modern space and a giant combination dinner involving eight different cuts of sashimi, one cut roll of your choosing, plus soup and salad all for under $20. Also, the place is full of attractive, single business people and that never hurts to see in the middle of a bad week.
This blink-and-you-miss-it sushi joint in Weho is serving very fresh fish at very affordable prices. $19 will get you a generous sashimi platter and $12 will get you the Jewelry Mine Roll (one of our favorite rolls in town).
If your ideal sushi involves lots of sauces and piles of crunchy bits, keep on moving. But for those that appreciate straight-up nigiri, sashimi, and classic roles, Noshi is one of the Eastside’s best options for an outrageously affordable and very well-executed feast. We always order at least three times the amount of food we need, and it always ends up costing about a third of what you’d pay anywhere else. An example? The spicy tuna roll (one of the best things here) is $3. Just know that this place is no longer a secret - expect to wait.
Sasabune is one of the bigger names in high-end sushi in Los Angeles, but lurking in its shadows is Sushi Don, its affordable sushi/donburi spot in the Valley. The menu is concise (there are only two combinations to choose from), and our order is always Combo A: one full donburi rice bowl, five pieces of delicious sushi, soup, and salad for $17.
When you really want the Sushi Gen sashimi special, but you’re nowhere near downtown and you don’t have an infinite amount of time to stand in line, there’s Sushi by H. It’s a little more expensive ($16.95), and the quality isn’t quite as good, but it’s a very solid alternative. The room is generally busy, with locals ordering simple rolls and the lava stone - crispy rice with spicy tuna topped with caviar.