There are more than a few ways to eat sushi in this sushi-filled town. Which means that before you go out to eat it, you’re going to need to have a preliminary conversation with yourself. Looking for value? There’s the sashimi platter at Sushi Gen. Consistency? One of the city’s many Sugarfishes. Ready to spend all your money and have a religious experience over some red snapper? Head straight to Sushi Park.
And when you want to eat at a classic sushi place that feels uniquely LA, get yourself to Matsuhisa.
If you’ve ever had some yellowtail with jalapeño, or eaten a scallop recently flown in from Hokkaido, or been to Nobu, this cramped restaurant on La Cienega had a lot to do with it. Matsuhisa is where Robert De Niro ate, decided everyone should be able to eat that yellowtail, and came up with the idea for Nobu.
And 30 years in, it feels like a time capsule. The menu has barely changed, and you’ll still find movie stars trying to look inconspicuous in the corner, people in “entertainment” racking up $500 bills at the sushi bar, and regulars who wave off a menu and just order straight from the chef. All of which can mask the fact that the food at Matsuhisa is, despite the time capsule odds, still fantastic.
There are a few things to keep in mind so you can get the best possible Matsuhisa experience. Firstly, sit at the sushi bar. Partly because you’ll get all the usual sushi chef interaction, but also because service at the regular tables in the dining room can be pretty inattentive. Also, you should skip the omakase. Instead, order a few appetizers and the miso cod before going all in on the sushi. You probably won’t eat anything you haven’t tried before, but you might also experience some of the best toro you’ll ever have.
Matsuhisa is the kind of restaurant that couldn’t exist anywhere except LA. You’ll eat some seriously great sushi, in a room that hasn’t changed in 30 years, with Kanye in one corner, and a 19-year-old in an LMU sweatshirt paying for her whole family’s dinner in another. If that’s the sort of sushi experience you’re in the mood for, you won’t be disappointed.
You’ve had a million ripoffs of this dish, but the original is still the best.
Black Cod With Miso
You can’t not get this charred, falling-apart piece of fish. Even if it is a $40 piece of fish.
These maybe felt different and interesting in the ’90s, but are pretty boring now.
This is the section of the giant menu you should be concentrating on. Get all your favorites, and add in whatever specials they’ve got going. The golden eye snapper is a highlight if they have it.
Not essential, but a good way to try a bunch of things. At the $150-level you’ll get everything from a ‘salad’ hand roll to oysters to sushi of all kinds to lobster to kobe beef. It’s a lot of food, but we’d rather pick and choose from the hot things and order more sushi than the four pieces you get with this.