Maybe the city planners who oversee Sawtelle Boulevard north of Olympic — that stretch of Japanese-intensive shops and restaurants many people call Little Osaka — should just hand over the keys to the folks who operate Tsujita. Of course we've all been lining up for bowls of noodles at Tsujita L.A., probably this town's best ramen shop, since it opened in the summer of 2011. Then they opened Tsujita Annex, a casual ramen-ya across the street, with more ramen and tsukemen and the happy addition of lawn chairs and umbrellas outside for the people in those lines.
Now they've opened a third restaurant, Sushi Tsujita, a few steps further north, in the former location of Soba Sojibo. Open for about a month now, this is an equally cozy spot, showcasing — as the name suggests — not noodles but classic Edo-style sushi, with omakase by Tokyo sushi chef Shigeru Kato.
Sushi Tsujita's space is as streamlined as its menu: The location features a 10-seat sushi bar, a few booths and small tables, as well as more tables outside in the shaded patio along Sawtelle. The walls are decorated in geometric zones of bamboo, and you can see Kato and his crew working behind the pale wood bar at the center of the dining room.
The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, every day except Monday. This is lovely minimalist stuff, with a focus on omakase at dinner and on chirashi bowls at lunch. And for inexplicable reasons, the place isn't crowded, at least not yet. Maybe everybody still lines up at the original Tsujita, simply out of habit.
Lunch, by the way, is a pretty wonderful time to check out Sushi Tsujita, as there are many, many chirashi bowls to chose from — and at extraordinarily good prices. Donburi bowls are customary lunch specials at sushi restaurants, but the rice bowls here are fantastic deals. There's a lunch set, with chirashi, miso soup and pickles, for $15, albeit in limited quantities. If you miss that one, there are a series of sets, with chirashi, miso, pickles and chawanmushi (egg custard), from $18 to $35, which is not bad considering the quality and range of the fish. There are also hand rolls, nigiri sushi, sashimi — and omakase.
At dinner, the focus is on that omakase, with options of $120, $150 and $180. There's also a pretty extensive wine, beer and shochu list. As for what you'll find in your chirashi bowl or presented to you by the chef, look for abalone, long-tooth grouper, toro, shima aji, uni, bluefin tuna (you can decline this one, by the way), gizzard shad, sockeye salmon, sea bream, yellowtail and much more.
If you're still hungry, you can walk down the street and get a bowl of ramen afterward. Right. And hey, if we're lucky, maybe the Tsujita folks will open a curry rice place next. (Please.)
See also: 99 Essential Restaurants, Tsujita L.A.
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