After the huge success of sushi restaurant chainlet Sugarfish, owner and chef Kazunori Nozawa has created a faster and cheaper sushi restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. The concept is a counter-only sushi bar that specializes in hand rolls such as the famous and beloved Blue Crab Hand Roll that is served as the final plate in Sugarfish’s prix fixe meals.
The relatively small Main Street location features a large, square-shaped bar in the center of the restaurant with a limited amount of outdoor patio seating for takeout orders. The atmosphere has a vibrant and youthful energy in the evenings and draws together a cool mix of Downtown hipsters, business people and young couples. There is a line of people at the front of the restaurant waiting for chairs to become available at the self-seated bar. Once seated, the proximity to other diners mixed with great lighting provides a family-style feeling within the chic sushi bar.
Everything in the bar is designed with style and functionality in mind. Chairs are equipped with hooks for purses, and all silverware is disposable but still sleek and presentable. The action on the other side of the bar is pleasantly relaxed. The discourse between managers, sushi chefs and diners is calm, and the service is as timely and professional as one would expect at Sugarfish.
The kitchen offers three set menus with three to five hand rolls and prices ranging from $10.50 to $17.50. It also features several à la carte options and a rotating sashimi option. The waiters, who are wonderful when dealing with substitutions, are also educated about the sushi and willing to answer questions.
The sushi overall is extremely high quality and flavorful. The fish has the same fresh taste that Sugarfish is known for and attention to detail is paid to ensure a great bite. Highlights include the toro hand roll, which creates a wonderful balance of fat with the slight acidity of the rice. The halibut sashimi was also a surprise with its floral and citrus aroma, which was a nice complement to the fish. Even the unassuming cucumber hand roll brought an incredible amount of flavor and depth in its simplicity.
The restaurant’s to-go menu includes two 16-piece cut roll options and an eight-piece cut roll with sashimi, which make perfect lunches when in a rush coming from work or for a quick dinner on the run before an art show or concert in Downtown. A cut roll à la carte menu is also offered.
Though KazuNori is a fantastic spot for casual date nights or quick work lunches, the small space and limited seating are not great for parties of more than three. Trying to seat more than two diners at the bar can take half an hour or more due to the limited space. The restaurant also has policies about not switching an already seated group’s position as it disrupts the intricate flow that allows the staff to move sushi so quickly. As the location gains buzz, it is hard to say if the short lines and quick turnover will continue. The ease of dinner without the wait will most likely end. But that kind of quality with their low prices it is well worth the wait for diners looking for delicious and affordable sushi.
KazuNori’s location on Main Street is also outstanding. The restaurant is situated near a decent amount of street parking and two $10 lots. The building is also relatively close to the Expo Metro line, making transportation from USC quick and easy with or without a car. This part of Main Street is always bustling with well-dressed young people running off to one of the many art galleries nearby or the poetry lounge down the street. The sushi spot is also right next to two works of street art.
Overall, the experience of eating at KazuNori is enjoyable and convenient, and the price for sushi this well-made is unbeatable. Gone are the days of students craving Sugarfish but not having the money to spend on it. KazuNori provides all of the amazing freshness, service and ambiance of Sugarfish without the price tag or the wait. KazuNori is sure to be a hot spot for USC students and other STET DTLA residents alike.
Kazunori is located at 421 S. Main St. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.