Scoping out single-vessel culture in Los Angeles, America's capital of laid-back food.
In Studio City there is a series of blocks informally known as Sushi Row, which stretches along Ventura Boulevard and includes heavyweights Katsu-Ya and Asanebo. Toward the end of this corridor you'll find Daichan, a cozy, Hawaiian-inflected Japanese soul food restaurant. It is not a traditional sushi bar like its next-door neighbor, Sugarfish, formerly the spot where Nozawa himself berated customers and earned his nickname the Sushi Nazi. See, at Daichan it's all about comfort and taking pleasure in the moment. The interior is decorated with posters, masks, and other kitsch, and there's a tiny market section (reminiscent of the old one at Go's in Canoga) that sells candies and Pocky sticks. You come here to be soothed by bowls of udon, fried cutlets, curries, and rice bowls.
Regarding that last one, try the poki (usually spelled poke), the marinated raw fish salad that is a specialty of the Hawaiian Islands. This one has a mixture of sizable cubes of snapper, yellowfin, salmon, and tuna, with pickled kombu and wakame dressed in soy sauce and sesame oil on its mound of rice. It’s refreshing on a sweltering Valley afternoon, with clean, well-balanced flavors. A side of red ginger provides a hit of tartness bordering on sour. At $16, the bowl is expensive, but the portion is generous and the waitstaff treat you with the care reserved for old-time customers. You could opt for a warm bed of hijiki seaweed rice, too, which will include sweet egg and pine nuts.
Daichan [Studio City]
11288 Ventura Boulevard, Suite F, Studio City; 818-980-8450
Bowl grade: A
Photo by Emily Buckingham
Justin Bolois is a writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBolois.