Angelenos never tire of sushi, and thankfully DTLA has plenty of Japanese restaurants serving some of the best. Whether it’s the most exquisitely presented nigiri with hand-grated wasabi and the chef’s own soy sauce, or Kazunori Nozawa’s famous hand rolls, there’s plenty to keep luring us back. Here are some favorites to hit for takeout and dine-in patios, including one rooftop drive-in experience that’s simply tops.
Thanks to reasonably priced “trust me” omakase meals, it’s easy to think of Sugarfish as mainstream sushi that won’t break the bank. But it’s so much more than that. It’s the clean, sustainably minded fish, Kazonori Nozawa’s famed sweet, warm rice, and housemade soy sauce. It’s the accessible locations throughout the city, each one sleek and welcoming, never accepting reservations or tips. All are open for patio seating, but the takeout boxes perfectly emulate the in-house experience, right down to knowing which nigiri gets the ponzu and which the soy sauce. 600 W. 7th St.
Kazunori Nozawa was a handroll pioneer at his original Sushi Nozawa, the beloved Studio City sushi bar he closed in 2012 after 25 years. So it makes sense that this followup to Sugarfish would feature all hand rolls, all the time. The small Historic Core spot has outdoor seating with swift, almost contactless service. Takeout and delivery are also options, but those will be only cut rolls. Unless you want the DIY hand-roll kit, which comes with everything needed for 20 handrolls. 421 S. Main St.
Simplicity is the rule at this Little Tokyo gem, which is one reason L.A.’s top chefs dine here. The lunch sashimi plate is a steal, a delicious array of fresh cuts of whatever’s fresh that day for less than $20. And although dining inside is temporarily closed, you can get the same sushi, sashimi and more for takeout. When it reopens fully, expect long waits for the first-come, first-serve seats at the sushi bar. 422 E. 2nd St.
Every sushi restaurant offers some vegetarian options, but this Little Tokyo spot is the only vegan, gluten-free and macrobiotic one in town. The sushi options are wildly inventive, things like dynamite rolls made with spicy tofu and avocado; the Crunchy Tiger, an avocado-wrapped soy chicken and asparagus roll; and In-N-Out knock-off hand roll made with plant-based “meat,” crispy potato, avocado and spicy mayo in soy paper. Everything is offered for delivery or for rooftop drive-in dining. That’s right: Drive up to the roof, text to start service, and food will arrive so you can dine safely in your own car (reservations mandatory). 333 S. Alameda St.
Set high above the Financial District, this long-standing sushi and robata bar has great views of the city from the 21st floor patio. There’s a variety of nigiri, sashimi and cut rolls, featuring all the usual suspects like yellowtails, toro, scallop and salmon. The rolls are more inventive, like the lobster roll in soy paper, or the Takami roll with spicy albacore and cucumber topped with peppered tuna and jalapeno yuzu. Open for dining on the patio as well as delivery and takeout. 811 Wilshire Blvd.
Closed during Covid but keep an eye out for the reopening
Q’s subtle style — the gentle wave in the handcrafted wood ceiling, the illuminated yellow orbs above your head, a line of abaci on the wall, chef Hiroyuki Naruke’s slick white eyeglasses — is like a serene port in the Seventh Street storm. This chic little sushi den has one of the purest omakase experiences in all of L.A. Chef Naruke brings subtle sophisticated style, housemade soy and pickled ginger, hand-grated wasabi and amazingly fresh seafood to the table. The sake list is exemplary, too. 521 W. 7th St.
This Historic Core omakase-only sushi bar is always buy, especially for lunch when the price comes down considerably. All the favorites are there: pristine fish (kumamoto oysters, maguro, skipjack and pompano, among others), warm rice and nigiri. Don’t expect cut rolls here, but do expect to be wowed by whatever comes your way. 334 S. Main St.
Feature Photo by Jose Ruales/Unsplash