Sometimes you have a meal that is more than just a nourishment for your body — it’s an experience in itself. What makes these meals special could be any combination of the following factors: the quality and deliciousness of the food, the company you eat with, the place where you eat, the person who prepared the food, or perhaps the unique circumstance and experience you have while eating.
While planning for our trip, my brother said that there was one experience he wanted to share with me on his last night in Los Angeles before moving to the East Coast for good: having sushi at a restaurant he (and many Angelinos) considered as the best in LA, a place called Sushi Nozawa. This place was known for its sushi chef, Mr. Nozawa, who had been preparing sushi for more than 40 years serving only the best he could find at the market at any given day. Mr. Nozawa was also nicknamed ‘the sushi nazi’ by some because he implemented a very strict rule of dining at his establishment. His motto was ‘trust me’ — you’re supposed to trust him to prepare the meal for you and eat your meal in the manner that he suggested as the way to consume the food (e.g. don’t ask for extra soy sauce, wasabi, etc.). And while dining at his place, you should turn off your cell phone to focus on the dining experience. But in return, you would experience among the best sushi dinner anywhere.
My brother had been there once, and hearing his description about it, I was quite excited to go for this dinner. We went to the restaurant… and found that it was closed for that night. We’re quite disappointed. As we tried to figure out an alternative, my brother remembered that there was another restaurant in Santa Monica that was similar to Sushi Nozawa as the chef was supposedly a disciple of the master chef. Thanks to Google, we were able to locate the restaurant. It’s called Sasabune.
We drove to Santa Monica and found Sasabune. As we entered the restaurant, the host mentioned that the place only served sushi omakase (‘chef’s choice), and it didn’t have dishes like california roll, tempura, or other dishes you might expect at a typical Japanese restaurant in the US. We’re okay with that, and after starting with typical green tea and miso soup, we had our sushi omakase, served a couple of pieces at a time. There were twelve courses altogether, and every single one of them came out amazing. The fish were so fresh and clean tasting; we could tell this was a first rate sushi experience. It was easily the best sushi meal I had ever had in my life.
We didn’t get a chance to eat at Nozawa, and earlier this year, Sushi Nozawa closed its doors and it’s now succeeded by a new chain run by Mr. Nozawa’s son called Sugarfish that took the Nozawa’s philosophy and quality standard to a more modern concept. But I’m glad we ended up at Sasabune that seemed to carry the same spirit and served equally high quality of meals.
I took the photo below just before we started our omakase meal. The chopstick cover had a nice description of what sushi is, and the tag line similar to Nozawa’s: trust me!