“Attention. No Takeout! No Salad! No Teriyaki, Tempura! No Trendy Sushi! No California Roll! No Spicy Tuna Roll! We serve only Traditional Sushi!” If you’ve ever called yourself a Sushi Park regular, you probably know this phrase by heart. It’s been on a sign outside the famed West Hollywood sushi spot for decades and was once a legendary rallying cry for LA sushi purists. The sign is still there—and remains a perfect kitschy photo opp—but unfortunately, the purists have moved on. That’s because while a meal at Sushi Park is still a fun night on the Strip, the quality of sushi no longer matches its hype, or the high price point.
For the sake of positivity, let’s focus on the space itself: it’s great. Located on the second floor of a strip mall, on a section of Sunset not particularly known for charm, Sushi Park feels like a true local sushi den. Sure, some of those locals are A-list celebrities or people who manage said celebrities, but there’s a shocking lack of pretension going on. Cheap wooden tables are pressed up against orange-colored walls. A fuzzy TV in the corner crackles with a baseball game. Everybody—no matter how long their IMDB credits are—walks in wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It’s the kind of place where sipping an Orion and snacking on nigiri with a close colleague or recent Golden Globe nominee happen naturally. We just wish the actual sushi backed up the experience inside.
photo credit: Holly Liss
To be clear, the sushi at Sushi Park is not bad, but at an omakase-only bar where meals average at least $200, there’s an expectation of excellence. Right now, Sushi Park falls short. This is a very nigiri-focused omakase and you can expect anywhere from 18 to 22 cuts of fish (you’re expected to tell the chef when you’re full). While there are some standouts—we loved the peppery black snapper and rich butteriness of the seared Chilean sea bass—in general, the cuts are way too small and unevenly sliced. Rice is haphazardly packed, crumbling apart at times, while other pieces arrive oversalted or slightly mushy. We’ll never pass up a night filled with toro, yellowfish, and amberjack, but considering the price, we also want a few surprises, too. Those never come. It’s a standard omakase filled with familiar, slightly boring cuts of fish that you could find at most neighborhood sushi bars around town.
Overall, there’s nothing egregious happening at Sushi Park and if the price point was about $100 less per person, the overall experience would make a lot more sense. But as it stands, there are simply too many other better sushi options around town at this price point, leaving a meal here feeling much like the famous sign out front: fun and kitschy, but no longer the staple of LA sushi that it once was.
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Sushi Park is omakase only—no matter where you sit in the restaurant. The menu changes slightly each day, but you can generally expect an array of traditional nigiri like bluefin tuna, horse mackerel, and salt-sprinkled scallops, plus some small plates like buttery abalone and albacore sashimi. What makes things a little different here is that after the seventh course, the duration of the omakase is up to you. When you’re full, you simply tell the chef to stop. The average diner will go far past the required seven courses, but it’s a nice option to have if you aren’t starving or looking to spend $200 per person on dinner (our bill ran closer to $250). It’s a solid omakase overall with quality fish, but if you’re a sushi connoisseur, you’ll probably be disappointed. And compared to other high-end spots around town, the nigiri are on the smaller side.