1345 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401 Phone: 310 393-3338
This week I wanted to write about a restaurant that is always consistent, seeing as recently I keep finding places I love (and write about) have changed their menus a week later (to keep up with trends) and the items I craved have been taken off! 😦 I do understand that some foods are seasonal but it’s so hard for someone like myself (fussy) to find a dish i’ll eat at all, so once I have done it’s even more distressing to not be able to get the same meal again on the next visit.
Anyway, I have been coming to SugarFish for over a year now, and their quality of food has always been above and beyond. They also never change their set menu (hooray!), which is what I’m going to cover in this review.
A lot of people tend to be very shocked that I am a huge sushi lover, and I have to admit I don’t understand it myself. The fact that I never used to eat anything other than pasta, and now regularly enjoy raw fish is a somewhat dramatic leap. Yet, for some reason, it is a genre of food I really enjoy. I have always liked smoked salmon, so when I first went to a sushi restaurant I tried the salmon sushi and found that the raw salmon is a similar consistency to smoked, which didn’t bother me at all. From eating salmon sushi, I eventually branched out to trying other light fish like ‘yellowtail’ and ‘halibut’ although I never found myself wanting to try tuna. For some reason the smell of tuna really bothers me (well canned tuna anyway) and for the longest time I couldn’t get my mind set out of that.
Anyway, walking in to SugarFish about a year ago, my boyfriend (FG) and I didn’t know what to expect. The place itself is small with bamboo style wood everywhere and plants on one of the side walls. They don’t take reservations so make sure you arrive well in advance of when you want to eat, because they do fill up quickly. We had been told repeatedly by people that they make ‘great sushi’ but our understanding at the time was limited and we really just thought, ‘it’s just rice and raw fish, how good can it be’. How little did we know!
Chef Kazunori Nozawa is a Japanese Chef who has been working with sushi since he was 15 years old. When he came to America he started Sushi Nozawa in Studio City, California with the aim to get Americans out of the thinking of extravagant rolls and back to the no-frills basics of what Japanese sushi really is, very simple yet exceptional quality seafood. Sushi Nozawa closed this year (2012) but the SugarFish chain continues his philosophy and the ‘Trust Me’ set menu is similar to one at the original Sushi Nozawa location.
The ‘Trust Me’ set menu is the one we always get, not just because of it’s value for money ($29.50 pp) but because it has a nice range of dishes within it. The first item is the Edamame. Plain, simple and nicely chilled with a little salt but not too much.
Next is the tuna sashimi. Now, as I said before, I never wanted to try tuna but on my first visit to SugarFIsh I felt obliged to try it as it was part of the set menu and they don’t bring the next dish until the one you have is finished!
So worth it, WOW this dish is good. The sauce is divine. It is slightly sweet like a ponzu sauce but a little more citric and sharp on the tongue. The scallions on top gives a nice change in texture to the moist soft flesh of the fish. Yummy.
What immediately stood out to me was how ‘non-fishy’ it tasted, in fact all the dishes at SugarFish have that same quality and it’s because they use the freshest fish daily, never from frozen.
Next come 4 little sushi pieces, two of albacore and two of salmon. The Albacore on my most recent trip (last night) was exceptional. It had the softest texture and melted in the mouth, there was a subtle sweetness to it and the cold fish over warm rice made for a really delicious combination.
The salmon was also flavorful but I have had salmon sushi so much now, I find it dull in comparison to the other options.
Next dish was the Yellowtail sushi (2pieces) and Halibut sushi (2pieces).The Yellowtail was the lightest in flavor but it had a nice texture and was clearly very fresh and slightly firm. The Halibut had a citric almost spicy tasting sauce added to it, which paired beautifully with the flavors of the fish itself. Another two great sushi pieces.
I should mention, they do give soy sauce and wasabi on the side but we often find ourselves not using it at all because the fish flavors really speak for themselves.
The Toro roll came out and our waitress told us it is best enjoyed whilst the seaweed is nice and crispy. I have to admit, i’m not a big fan of seaweed wrapped rolls usually but this one was good… Soft moist chilled toro inside warm rice with a crispy seaweed shell.
The Blue hand crab roll was the last item to come out, and the crab was almost creamy in texture. It was very cold crab meat which is an odd sensation against the warm rice but seems to work and this is apparently the true Japanese way of preparing sushi.
After the crab roll you’re all done off the set items, occasionally they have a special of the day they feature instead or as well as. There are also other set menus (a larger and lite version) or you can order off the general menu, but value wise and selection choices makes this particular set option our favorite. All the dishes appear tiny (by Western standards) but the leisurely timing in which the items are brought to the table somehow fills you up and we feel very satisfied every time we eat there.
On our last visit we also enjoyed a nice bottle of Nigori Sake called ‘Sho Chiku Bai’ which was creamy, silky and mildly sweet. It paired beautifully with our dinner and I highly recommend.
Food rating gets 5 out of 5 platters
I’m yet to have a bad experience here, so they get full marks! It sounds obvious, but it makes SUCH a difference when seafood is so fresh. I always thought I knew good sushi until I came here, now I won’t go anywhere else. Their consistency of both quality and taste makes them one of the best sushi places I have ever been to and although the service can be slow at times, the staff are all very friendly and helpful so they don’t lose marks their either. If you like good sushi then this is certainly a restaurant you should check out.
The Santa Monica location is the one we personally know and love, but SugarFish have a number of venues now, so look on their website for the closest one to you.