I recently spent several days in LA for work and my travel companion’s idea of good food was ordering delivery from a national pizza chain and eating back in his hotel room (I assume in his boxers while watching something awful on TV…Sportscenter perhaps). This was good news for me as I was able to select whatever restaurant I wanted for dinner without considering anyone else at all. All in all, a pretty good option for someone like me.
This was my third and final night in LA. Tuesday I had a fantastic Indian meal at Badmaash, Wednesday I had some great tacos at Guisado and for my finale, it was Sugarfish. I had tried to get into Sugarfish, who doesn’t take resos, by the way, the night prior but the wait for a single spot was over 90 minutes. I had meetings later in the night on Thursday in Hollywood, so I popped over to Sugarfish at what I’d normally call an ungodly hour for dinner – 17h30. The place was about half filled. I decided to sit at the edge of the bar and not take up a full two top table – the same MO I had at Badmaash.
I had done a bit of research prior to walking through the front door. Sugarfish’s website outlines its mantra: A philosophy of quality and simplicity. I couldn’t find a better way to describe this restaurant. First, the interiors are sleek and modern with seating for a few dozen. The wrap around bar adds a nice little area for both single travelers to hide in the background while enjoying a great meal as well as couples who prefer the coziness of side by side dining. When I was there, again at very early dinner hour, the bar was full of singles, like me, mostly on their phones or the tablets.
The dinner menu has a couple of options. You can order a la carte or you can select one of the three prix fixe options: The Trust Me ($32), the Trust Me Lite ($22) and the Nozawa Trust Me ($42). These menus build off of each other – so most everything on the Lite menu is on the other menus, but the others just have additional items. I didn’t know when I’d make it back to LA, so I went for the Nozawa Trust Me. I am not a big fan of salmon, so I asked if that could be swapped out, which they did without a problem. In lieu of the salmon I had a course with sea scallop. While the scallop was probably my least favorite thing I had, I think I made the right choice on swapping the salmon.
I started off with edamame which appeared to be already plated and sitting queue up behind the bar. It was soggy and room temperature. The first fish course that came out was the Tuna Sashimi. I could have eaten 10 more plates this size, but I knew I had a big prix fixe en route and if the mood struck me, I could order this a la carte as a final piggy course.
My next plate included two pieces each of the Albacore, Snapper and Scallop (in lieu of the Salmon). I was so pleased with my first course, I jumped right in without taking a photo of the full, properly plated course. The Albacore and the Snapper were superb. My immediate concern was that I may have too many choices for my self titled “piggy add on course”.
Next up came the Yellowtail and Halibut Sushi. Whenever I get sushi, my go to items are Tuna and Yellowtail. Usually I only go for sashimi, but these menu items were nigiri style. The rice was so perfect, I honestly debated on ordering a small side of it. I’m sure Sugarfish does a great job on their rice, I think the fact that I never have nigiri just made it that much better and more of a novelty. The slight sweetness of the rice helped cut the wonderful fattiness of the fish. It seems strange to say that the rice really gave me a new appreciation for nigiri, but it makes sense. The fish is the fish and if you can add another depth of flavor with some perfectly prepared rice, go for it. My memory of nigiri is that the rice is just bland and used solely as a vessel to get the fish into your body. I need to reevaluate my immediate discounting of nigiri.
The toro hand roll came out next and like nigiri, I don’t often get hand rolls any more. When I first ventured into the world of sushi I would snag one of these regularly. Now, I’m more of a share and share-a-like kind of guy and the hand roll just seemed selfish. I like the bite you had to put in to get through the outer seaweed – it really brought me back to my initial sushi exploration. Unfortunately I neglected to snap a picture of the toro handroll, but I did remember to get the next handroll, which was the Blue Crab. Loved it. I don’t eat enough crab in my life.
The final course was a daily special that I neglected to capture on film. I also failed at noting what exactly it was. I remember thinking that I was disappointed that I ended my meal on this course. Not that it was bad, but to me, it didn’t meet the previous courses.
I paired this entire meal with the Kunde Sauvignon Blanc. Not a stellar specimen by any stretch of the imagination, but it was crisp and clean and worked well with what I ordered. The two servers I had working my area were really great. They were obviously still prepping for the real dinner service, but took as much time as I wanted/needed when I’d ask questions about the menu, the philosophy, the neighborhood – basically anything that came to mind mind. I didn’t feel rushed at all.
Now the real questions: Do I think it was worth the price? Worth the wait? Would I return? First off, I think the menu I chose was well worth the price. I would have preferred it ended on a high note, but I’m sure others really dig that final course and don’t get me wrong, it was good, I just wish it was different. Totally worth the price. The first night I tried to eat at Sugarfish the wait was 90 minutes. I don’t believe I’ve ever waited 90 minutes for a table. I can barely envision any circumstance where I would wait that long. If I had waited 90 minutes for this menu I would have been disappointed, definitely disappointed. That being said, I’m not sure what kind of meal I’d wait 90 minutes for — duck service at Tour d’Argent? I would return in a heartbeat! I liked the vibe, the food, in general was top notch. When I’m back downtown, I’d try very hard to eat here again. Honestly, I’d like to revisit all of my LA dinner stops again.
Have you been to Sugarfish? What menu did you choose, or did you go a la carte? Would you wait 90 minutes for a table?
I spent a week in LA for work recently and my travel companion was sort of lame – he preferred to order room service each night. Then again, maybe he just didn’t want to eat with me, either way, I didn’t have to worry about preferences of anyone else when picking dinner places.
The first night in town I went to Badmaash. The next night I wanted to hit Sugarfish, but unfortunately, the wait for a single was about 90 minutes and I didn’t have the energy to go for that. I figured their may be a problem getting into Sugarfish, so I had a backup plan. I figured I’d hit Guisados for tacos if Sugarfish didn’t work out.
I walked about 15 minutes over to Guisados and it was pretty empty. Lucky for me. It had more of a coffee shop feel than a taco joint. There were a couple of tables full of people using their laptops, one woman was skyping (which included regular shrieks of laughter, which startled everyone around) and one table hosting a really awkward date.
I ordered three tacos and a fresh lemonade. Like my meal the previous night, there were more things on the menu that I wanted to try, but I felt I’d be acting like a big pig if I ordered them all. I settled on three tacos: Cochinita Pibil, Chorizo and Pescado.
The pescado was by far the worst of the three, but it was still very good. I feel I could eat half a dozen of each of the other two tacos. The flavors, the spice and the fresh in-house made tortillas made the meal fantastic. The fresh lemonade paired so well with the meats as well. I fear if I lived in this area, I’d end up eating here much more than my arteries or my waistline could handle.
Have you eaten here before? What is your favorite taco? When Downtown LA, where do you go for tacos?