I was a tourist in LA. Unashamedly, I signed up for two architectural tours, a celebrity house tour, and a tour of a Hollywood studio, shopped in stores and ate in restaurants the likes of which you don't find back home, or in that other LA, for that matter. So that was me — five days in LA, wearing my tourist grin, craning my tourist neck, and shooting tourist photos.
When I'm out in the world I like to dine in restaurants, and I often use Michelin as my first-level filter. In LA I was able to visit some good ones, the type of eateries where lasting memories are created. One of those was Gucci Osteria, seen in LA Part 1. But the best restaurant experience, and one of my most memorable, was had at Nozawa Bar, in Beverly Hills.
We had a hard time finding the place, even though it was only a couple streets over from Rodeo Drive and just up the block from Spago. But, at the street address we found only a sushi bar called Sugarfish, with no sign of Nozawa Bar.
There were a few people sitting on a bench outside of Sugarfish, so I walked up to them, asked where I could find Nozawa Bar (in my head I'm singing that to the tune of Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa). "It's in the back," one of bench sitters told me. "You sit here until they come to get you." We sat.
Some time later, and some time past the reservation hour, we bench sitters were addressed by a server. "There are no substitutions. You can take photos, but phones must be turned off. The rice is served at the perfect temperature, so Chef asks that you eat each piece of sushi immediately, in one bite. Please follow me." We followed.
The Gang of Eight (for we were four couples) were led into Sugarfish, past the seated diners, down a hall, beyond the kitchen and into a small room equipped with an L-shaped bar, wood paneling on the walls, and lighting that might have been a touch too bright and a touch too Kelvin. We sat on the eight stools; the server stayed on our side of the counter. Behind the bar were four sushi chefs: white coats, white aprons, white hats, white masks. Master Sushi Chef Fujita and his three assistants. And so it began.
2:12:22. That is to say, two hours, twelve minutes, and twenty-two courses later I was out walking the mean streets of Beverly Hills trying to digest what had just happened, both literally and figuratively. Twenty-two courses of the best raw seafood on this side of the Pacific. It was certainly an OIAL experience. ("Once in...")