Find out why wine lovers are flocking to the new Sushi Note in Sherman Oaks.
Hint: Augustine wine bar just across the street.
CategoryEat & Drink
Written byJoshua Lurie
Sometimes with a great idea, the stars just seem to align. That appears to be the case with the new Sushi Note in Sherman Oaks. Augustine wine bar co-owner Dave Gibbs had been mulling a sushi/wine concept with Andy Paxson, owner of Simple Things in Toluca Lake. Then the sushi bar Bizen, just across the street, closed. Augustine head bartender Silvia Gallo slid a note under the door to see if the space was available. Spoiler alert: it was. Coincidentally through a friend, the trio discovered that chef Kiminobu Saito, previously at 4 on 6 in Encino, expressed interest in joining the team. Suddenly Sushi Note was born.
Silvia, a partner in Sushi Note, is the driving force behind its wine program. While most sushi bars offer one or two vintages, she showcases a balanced, globally inspired menu with grapes sourced “from the seaside to the mountains.” They also feature aged champagnes like 2000 Dom Perignon, which she describes as “lovely coating to the palate that your food just melds with.”
“Sushi Note’s wine program isn’t as much about where the wines are from, but more about can they shine, but not outshine, the fish?” Silvia says. “They allow the fish to delicately express itself.” That means nothing too tannic, acidic or sweet. “It does seem to help if the wines are more mineral-driven when eating light/white fish, and when the coursing ends up with full-bodied fatty fish, the rounder, more fruit-driven wines step up to complement.” As with Augustine, there is someone always on hand to help pair half or full glasses. Two different sushi/wine pairings are offered each night, as noted on a chalkboard by the door.
Kiminobu prints a daily menu based on market availability, focusing on sushi, sashimi and small plates. He also lists wild-caught fish on the blackboard.
Sushi combos range from a “quarter-note” with four pieces of sushi, a spicy tuna handroll and miso soup, to a “full-note” 15-piece omakase experience. Kiminobu guides a sushi progression starting with madai (red snapper) that “helps me open up the guest’s palate,” then transitioning to leaner fish like baby yellowtail and concluding with “a few textured pieces and sweet pieces to have that well-rounded experience for the guests.”
Nigiri comes in pairs and includes several creative signature preparations. Gravlax stars Scottish salmon cured with vodka and dill, garnished with tangy sour cream. Binchou teams pepper-crusted albacore from Canada with a chile-soaked daikon mash and crunchy scallions. From the blackboard, I ordered shinko, beautifully rich baby gizzard shad with shimmering silver skin, brushed with soy sauce and draped with kombu (kelp).
Kiminobu also excels with cooked dishes. He folds thick, house-made goma tofu with nutty sesame paste, dabs with dark, sweet hatcho miso and applies edible gold flake. Fatty salmon collar is marinated for three days “Yuan-style” with sake, soy, mirin and sugar, and grilled until the sweet, fatty fish caramelizes. The chef’s restraint is evident while downing this delicacy.
“Our food has to have the quality of a bright, clean essence with just a touch of acidity, sweetness or spice,” Kiminobu says.
The restaurant’s blue and wood color scheme and casual mid-century vibe is set off by jazz music playing softly in the background. There’s barely enough room for 10 counter seats, four booths and two banquettes. But with gastronomy in full swing, we don’t think anyone will mind the cozy confines.
Sushi Note | 13447 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks | 818-802-3443 | sushinotela.com