Whether we’re talkin your town or specifically within your neighborhood, it’s always tricky trying to find what you hope to become your sushi spot. It’s extra tricky living in a place like Los Angeles where we find the struggle is being presented with simply too many options, of which most are fairly acceptable. On my hunt to find my spot a few years ago, my criteria for finding my sushi soul mate was focused on quality, sure, authenticity, sure, but most importantly the perfect middle of the road between bougie sushi (like Sugarfish, Nobu) and regular, affordable sushi (like Haru, Sake House). Now try to say “bougie sushi” 5 times fast. Izaka-ya (by Katsu-ya) on 3rd is all that and then some, and after 3-4 years of living here is still my favorite Japanese/sushi joint. I won’t necessarily go as far as to say “it’s the best sushi place EVER!!!” because truth be told it’s not, but for what it is, it sure as shit is one of them. The best sushi usually comes with about $$$$$+’s on Yelp or Open Table, and frankly I want sushi way more often than a special occasion so I take my $$-$$$ pocket to Izaka-ya on the reg and never cry over the bill let alone the meal.
What’s special about Izaka-ya is that at this point it’s been around for quite sometime that it actually seems to be turning into an LA staple. It’s one of those restaurants if you’re an Angeleno and a sushi lover and you haven’t been… well… then shame on you. It’s my #1 sushi recommendation to any visitor and newcomer; it’s casual but does not flake on quality (you will neither be delighted nor upset once your check is dropped) but it always pleases and impresses. The best thing about Izaka-ya is what I’d like to consider their “signature dishes” – just my last visit a few days ago I cracked up while eves dropping on what the surrounding tables were ordering – not to my surprise, we’d all ordered pretty much the exact same things. Buzz, popularity, deliciousness, call it what you will but there’s a reason we all keep coming back for more. We come for the creamy rock shrimp tempura (also a famous dish at Katsu-ya), the baked crab hand rolls (or “tubes” as I now call them), the spicy tuna crispy rice, and the albacore (sashimi) with crispy onion. **cue collective head nods in agreement** Of course there is plenty more to order, all items bordering on authentic Japanese cuisine and California influenced sushi, but these dishes specifically have truly managed to make names for themselves and have cultivated quite the foodie following.
Izaka-ya is one of LA’s darlings, and it’s most certainly somewhere at the top of my favorites in town. It’s date friendly, client friendly, parent friendly, girls night out friendly, even dining alone friendly – there’s not one thing that will disappoint you about this popular spot. Yes it’s got a brand attached to its name but don’t let that deter you, let that be a driving force to your curiosity. Biggest tips for dining here would be to make a reservation (it’s usually relatively easy but it’s always busy), and whatever you do make sure you order enough tubes. As if sushi wasn’t already like a drug, the baked crab hand rolls are like the Heisenberg’s blue meth of the sushi world, get as many as you can while you’re there.