photo credit: Jakob Layman
Everybody remembers their first time. You were nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time. What if you put something in the wrong place at the wrong time? What if you didn’t like it? You did some light Googling to be better prepared. There were plenty of ways this could go wrong and you wanted to be ready for all of them.
Not that first time. We mean the first time you had omakase. My first time was at Sasabune.
If you didn’t grow up in LA (or, you know, Japan), your sushi experiences probably amounted to mysterious California rolls in the one Japanese restaurant in town, grocery store spicy salmon rolls, or hand rolls made with canned tuna (No? Just our weird childhood?). Your first omakase is always a revelation, and you’ll always have a soft spot for the restaurant that popped your cherry.
So while I will keep going back to Sasabune because it’s the place where I really learned to love sushi, you should get here because it’s one of the best examples of classic LA omakase. If you’ve ever had Sugarfish (jk, of course you have), then you’ve had a slimmed-down version of what you’ll get at Sasabune. Like Sugarfish, a meal here starts with sashimi, ends with a crab hand roll, and involves many pieces of nigiri in between. But you’ll also get an oyster, a scallop (still in its shell), a baked mussel, some crazy good cooked butterfish, and uni if you want it. The fish varieties are not exactly adventurous, and the menu barely changes between visits, but everything is as fresh as it could possibly be. The space is also what you’d expect when it comes to classic LA sushi - a little storefront (next to a Wahoo’s), no interior design to speak of, and a sushi bar that’s really the only place you should be sitting.
Sasabune is the gateway drug of sushi places - an excellent introduction to what will probably be an expensive addiction. So bring someone who thinks the brown rice rolls at Whole Foods are adventurous. It’s a pretty great place for their first time.
You can order off a menu at Sasabune, but to be honest, we’ve never even looked at the thing. We always sit at the sushi bar, which means we always have the omakase. At around $90, it’s certainly not cheap, but you get a whole lot of very high-quality sushi. Fish varieties change depending on what’s available, but you’ll rarely encounter anything especially advanced. The standard menu is around eight courses (most with multiple pieces of fish), but if you’re feeling ambitious (and rich), they’ll keep giving you pieces of fish until you drop.