West LA’s not-so-secret hideaway for fantastic sushi

By Joshua Lurie


Photo: Joshua Lurie

Anybody who eats LA sushi often knows that some of the best bets in the city are found in strip malls, and Hamasaku is no exception. Run by former mega-agent Michael Ovitz, this West LA mainstay has been catering to food lovers in general—and entertainment industry power brokers in particular—since 2000.

The restaurant’s name translates from Japanese to “blooming seashore,” and Marwan Al-Sayed designed the space to play on this theme. Wood doors give way to rows of rectangular flags resembling ship sails, overhead beams sport ocean bubbles high above an L-shaped sushi bar of maple, and walls are graced with selections from Ovitz’s considerable contemporary art collection.

Hamasaku is overseen by Kyoto-born Yoya Takahashi, who you will find holding court behind the sushi bar. Of course, it’s easy to come here just for the sushi, which is sourced from all around the world, with an emphasis on the West Coast and Japan. Selections might include seared tachiuo (beltfish); young Spanish mackerel with Japanese shallots; and silver skinned iwash (sardine) dabbed with ginger. A firm slab of Japanese abalone sports a seaweed belt and arrives brushed with sweet soy sauce. Haigamai rice, which has more bite and higher phosphorous and Vitamin B levels, gets folded with Japanese vinegar, salt, and sugar.
A list of non-traditional rolls honor regulars like Rick and Lourd, while the robata grill yields skewers from the sea, air, and land, including a fun riff on Mexican street corn sprinkled with togarashi. Small plates include agedashi tofu in sweet soy vinaigrette, and caramelized black cod marinated with saikyo miso.

Drinks include an ample list of Japanese craft beer plus a thoughtful sake selection, including reserve pours of rare bottles like Flying Pegasus. And no matter what direction your meal takes, finish with the matcha budino, a delicate balance of matcha green tea, white chocolate, whipped cream, and raspberry, to cap off a luxurious meal.


Dinner: Mon–Thu 5:30 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5:30 PM–10:30 PM; Sun 5:30 PM–9:30 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30 AM–2:30 PM

price range

$10 (salmon-avocado roll) to $35 (sashimi deluxe)