Matsumoto

8385 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90048
323-653-0470
Critics' Pick
Matsumoto

Courtesy Matsumoto Zensai Moriawase

Details

  • Lunch: Mon.-Fri., noon-2:30 p.m.; dinner: Mon.-Sat., 6-10 p.m.
  • Lunch, Dinner
  • Beer/Wine
Not to fog our own monocles here, but it’s a fact: Los Angeles is home to some of the best sushi in the country. But finding a compatible sushi chef is a labor of love; it takes a lot of misses before you can swipe right on a sushi guy. Forget those rarefied sushi chefs who forage for locally grown mushrooms from Vincent Gallo’s beard, or those guys who juggle knives for tourists. Instead, find an understated chef who gets it right every time. Naruki Matsumoto is that maestro. For years he was the head chef of Hirozen, the unassuming, strip-mall sushi spot near the Beverly Center; now he runs the joint. Like a conductor, Matsumoto bows slightly, cracks a coy smile, then the performance begins. He scoops rice with his right hand, hugs it in his palm and rolls it between his fingers. After a swift horizontal knife slice through sea bream, he lays the flesh on the pillow of rice over a tuft of watercress. He snows a flake or two of coarse salt, then plates his creations. He pauses, then, like winding a watch, turns the sculptural sushi to exactly the 1:35 clock position on the circular plate. It’s as perfect as the ikebana flower arrangements adorning the room. And Matsumoto knows it, politely suggesting “no soy sauce please” as he places the pieces on the bartop. The omakase puts your night in his control, as he delivers dish after dish; perhaps a pile of tiny salmon roe, which pop like briny flavor grenades; or maybe some bright orange uni that melts with richness; or the kamasu seared barracuda, which balances the textures of its cool center with the blowtorched exterior. At a recent omakase session, after we'd devoured countless plates, Matsumoto politely informed us that we had eaten everything. As in, every-freaking-thing, we reached the event horizon at the end of edible existence, where time — and a bit of your bank account — disappears in what seems like a minute or an hour. It doesn’t matter, because a meal with Matsumoto is a moment you never want to end. —Drew Tewksbury

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