Earlier this year, SugarFish opened their 6th branch in Beverly Hills. Since all the branches seem to be able to make the same consistently great sushi, there was no hurry for me to check out this branch. However, they decided to open a more exclusive room called the Nozawa Bar located in the back of this SugarFish.
In case you’re not familiar with Nozawa or SugarFish, the basic concept is that the sushi nigiri basically melts in your mouth. The nori (sea weed) is fresh and unbelievably crisp, the rice is warm right out of the cooker, the sauces accentuates and not overwhelm, and everything is as fresh as humanly possible.
Basically, there is a small room in the back of the restaurant, past the kitchen, with a sushi bar with 10 seats. Behind the bar are 3 sushi chefs, including Master Chef Osamu Fujita and a hostess/server on the outside of the bar. The room is small, borderline claustrophobic-ish and acoustically reflective so don’t talk about your personal business unless you want everyone in the room blogging about it.
Chef Fujita studied in Japan and Chef Kazunori Nozawa for many years before becoming a corporate executive Chef for Hyatt Regency; Marssa Restaurant in Las Vegas and Loews Hotels. He told me that he loved living and working in Honolulu but Las Vegas was the most exciting city. He won’t hear any arguments from me about those cities.
The 20 course omakase dining experience requires reservations and will set you back a whopping $130 for lunch at noon, or $150 for dinner at 6pm and 8pm (later to be 8:15pm). That’s right. The reservation times are set like a movie and you must be on time or you simply miss the dishes that have already been served. As with the regular SugarFish, green tea is $4 and 18% gratuity is automatically added to your bill.
The pictures in the gallery below are in the order that the courses were served. I was enjoying the dishes so much that I did miss pictures of the squid sushi (with shiso leaf), lobster hand roll (one of my favorites) and the desert, which was a sorbet with fresh fruit. At the end, you also get some Hojicha roasted green tea, even if you already have green tea.
Frankly, there was perhaps one too many courses for me and I was stuffed at the end. As expected, every dish was at least good, and most were spectacular. Unlike the Brentwood branch of SugarFish, the Nozawa bar service was excellent and my green tea and water were refilled constantly without ever asking for it. Any little spill was also cleaned up between courses, the way it should be at any classy restaurant.
As mentioned before, the room itself is echoey so it would be better if you had a large party of 10 and occupied the entire bar with your own party. We could hear every little conversation in there and made me paranoid to talk.
Chef Fujita is very personable and loves to converse with the patrons. That’s what makes this place something more than just a tiny room with a bar and some sushi.
To be honest, the food at SugarFish is so good that it would be impossible for Nozawa bar’s food to be much better. Basically, there’s more of the fantastic food in a private area of a Beverly Hills restaurant, with excellent service for a lot of money.
Is it worth the extra money? If you’re trying to impress an important client, hot date, or your disproving parents, this is a perfect place to make a big impression. Otherwise, I would recommend that you simply eat at SugarFish and get the same quality food for a lot less money. Of course, you can only get Chef Fujita in person in here.
All in all, come here for a real experience instead of just a meal, but be ready to pay for it.