Sushi Nozomi (Los Angeles, July 2015)

Nozomi: Unagidon
Nozomi is in Torrance, a city in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, but for the purposes of my reviews Los Angeles more or less refers to all of LA County (the San Gabriel Valley isn’t part of the city of Los Angeles either). Torrance has a very large Japanese population, especially as a percentage of the total population. A large part of this stems from Toyota opening its US headquarters there in the late 1960s, followed by other companies. Nissan moved out in 2006 and, more seismically, Toyota announced plans to move to Texas last year. This has doubtless been a big blow to the many businesses that cater to Japanese executives—a clientele that has also driven the high quality of Japanese food in Los Angeles at large. It remains to be seen what the long-term effect will be, or if there’s now going to be a Japanese food renaissance in Plano, Texas (which is where Toyota is going).

Of sushi restaurants in Torrance, Nozomi seems to be the one that gets the most attention from mainstream foodies—though there’s always talk of the best/most interesting fish being reserved for Japanese diners (as to whether this actually happens anywhere, I can’t say, but I suspect it’s the kind of story a subset of American foodies likes to tell). As we’ve never felt the need to schlep out to Torrance for sushi we’d never been there before. But on this trip we took the boys down to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and decided to stop in Torrance for a quick lunch on the way. And as Nozomi is not too far from the freeway and has lots of lunch specials it was an easy pick.

We got there right as they opened. Since we had the kids with us we didn’t ask for the sushi bar. The restaurant filled up very quickly indeed and most of those at the bar seemed like regulars. Unlike a number of the more hardcore places in LA, Nozomi doesn’t have a laser-like focus on sushi: their lunch options include tempura and teriyaki and tonkatsu, and for that matter they offer caterpillar rolls etc. for those that want them (and there’s even more genres available at dinner).

What did we get? We got the boys the grilled chicken and tempura combination; the missus got the unagi don; and I got the Chef’s Choice sushi special. I don’t want to make too many claims for this meal, given we were eating various lunch combinations, but it was all more than decent, on the whole, and the variety even in the $38 lunch special sushi and the quality of some of the pieces was more than I was expecting—10 pieces of nigiri including decent ikura, uni, kohada and chutoro (plus bluefin which I had failed to disqualify as I didn’t expect there’d be any in the combo lunch) plus 6 pieces of tuna roll (and it was toro roll). Pictures with more details in the captions are in the slideshow below.

All of this came to a little over $80 total with tax and tip. Service was fine and our server had very fluent English. I have to say I liked my lunch special enough to consider coming back for omakase at the bar at dinner on a future trip (maybe even this December). Unlike with Kiriko’s the sushi didn’t feel like a steal for the price but the quality was far better than at the more expensive lunch omakase at Sasabune, Beverly Hills and I suspect they could at least match Sushi Sushi at a similar price point (I won’t bother saying how they compare to places in the Twin Cities). It’s certainly motivation enough for more trips to the Aquarium.

With this I’m done with my sushi reports from the last LA trip. I have one more Thai meal (at Lacha Somtum) and one Mexican meal (at Guelaguetza) unreported still but there’s a good chance I might hold off on those till after the next LA trip, waiting to eat at those restaurants again so as to be able to report on more of the menu at once.

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