Q Sushi: LA’s new Michelin Star
In Downtown LA, anyone could easily walk by Q Sushi near the swank Nomad Hotel without recognizing one of the best Japanese dining experiences in Los Angeles. Inside, sits a 10-person omakase bar where Chef Hiroyuki Naruke is entrusted to select 15 or more courses.
Chef "Hiro" recommends a sake to begin the evening. Reservations for this $200 per person meal are in high demand, especially since the 2019 Michelin Guide for California gave out their stars – with Q being one of 18 L.A “1-star” restaurants. Unlike boisterous Americanized sushi joints, dinner at Q Sushi immediately feels sacred, almost like going to church as guests eagerly await with quiet anticipation the Edo-style experience.
Chef Hiro moved to LA after running a six-seat sushi bar in Tokyo, recruited to Los Angeles by a regular customer – a partner at LA law firm Quinn Emanuel. The restaurant is named for the first letter of “Quinn”.
A night usually begins with the introductory prelude - a creamy oyster from Seattle, elegantly presented Japanese red snapper doused with soy sauce, fish eggs, and scallions, and white giant octopus slices from Hokkaido, Japan with a dab of in-house pickled ginger. Each bite is swiftly placed in front on the wooden bar top under show lights - displayed and matched carefully on a plate with the ultimate color contrast. Chef Hiro explains and identifies each item while guests salivate for the next bite.
Somehow, Chef Hiro keeps the various courses moving in different stages. His fingers look muscular as he slices each fish with delicate precision. No matter which course, Chef Hiro's rhythmic hand movements swiftly choreograph each plate as he glides from one to another like a dance. It’s astounding to watch.
After the introductory round or tsumami (small appetizers), assorted sashimi is presented - from fatty tuna, scallops, and kampachi, to seared Japanese bonito and succulent Japanese grouper. A slow eating process will savor each bite, especially when the jewel-like ruby red bluefin tuna in soy marinade arrives. Nigiri sushi follows - seaweed cured fluke, Japanese striped jack, and giant raw crab.
Chef Hiro coaxes optimal flavor profiles from the fish, using various techniques such as aging (“nekaseru”), curing, and adjusting temperatures before serving. This exacting attention extends to sauces, salts, and garnishes applied to evince the essence of each particular fish.
Around the twelfth course, two seaweed "packages" filled with creamy Santa Barbara sea urchin and salmon eggs appear, followed by four pieces from Japan, more petite than the Santa Barbara variety, sweeter, and richer in orange color. The evening's finale concludes with Japanese sea eel, a Torro and Onion Roll, and a sweet course – the rectangular tamago, a Japanese dessert omelet.
Reservations are highly recommended. Two dinner seatings – Tuesday through Saturday at 6:00 p.m and 8:00 p.m. and two lunch seatings Tuesday through Friday at 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. Valet begins at 7 PM.
Written by Melissa Curtin | Photography by Robiee Ziegler