Los Angeles just might be the city that’s done the most in terms of introducing Americans to Japanese cuisine — the first sushi restaurant in the country, Kawafuku, opened here in Little Tokyo in the early 1960s, while our namesake California Roll was invented a few years later at its competitor, Tokyo Kaikan (which also housed a second-floor disco called Tokyo A Go-Go, reportedly a favorite of Rock Hudson and Audrey Hepburn).
It’s no surprise, then, that today L.A. is home — as it has been for years — to some of the best omakase experiences in the country. While some compare omakase to a tasting menu, its origins are more pragmatic: diners had no way of knowing what their local sushi bar might be carrying on a given day, so they simply asked the chefs to serve them the best of what they had on hand.
While the rough translation in Japanese means “I rely on you for my decision,” legendary L.A. sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa defined the concept as the slightly more philosophical “trust me,” setting the tone for a broader interpretation of the term, in which chefs strive to provide an exceptional experience for guests.
Trust us, then, with this list of the city’s finest omakase, which includes a mix of more traditional and newfangled offerings, along with a guide to what to expect at kaiseki and kappo restaurants. If it all sounds a little personal, it is. Just sit back and enjoy the experience.