The Hand-roll Emporium Kazunori Opens in Studio City
Melts in your mouth.
Most restaurants try to be a lot of things when it comes to food. KazuNori aims for just one thing: to make the tastiest hand rolls in LA. And to that end, the eatery chain is successful. Fans of Kazunori Nozawa, the founder of KazuNori and widely credited with the boom of sushi in LA, will no doubt be thrilled that he has opened his sixth outpost—his first in the Valley—in Studio City.
KazuNori serves mostly seafood rolls with choices that include toro, crab, yellowtail, lobster, scallop, eel, sea bream (New Zealand snapper) and salmon. Vegan options include yamaimo (Japanese yam) and cucumber.
Deemed “hand rolls” because they fit in the palm of your hand, the raw seafood is placed on a bed of warm rice and then wrapped in crisp seaweed paper. The result is a distinctive comfort food experience with deliciously fresh, premium seafood. I longed for a seaweed salad or something to accompany the hand rolls, but as with all his eateries, Nozawa does not care. He does things his way.
As with the menu, alcoholic beverages are also limited; only sake and one brand of beer are available. As a wine drinker, I felt a bit underserved. I’m not sure why they can’t toss in a wine or two.
The Studio City KazuNori is housed in the old Sushi Nozawa space—the place where the acclaimed sushi chef kicked off his empire in the 1970s. It is also the former location of his other Valley restaurant, Sugarfish, which recently moved a few miles west to The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge. With only 24 seats, a large, U-shaped, handsomely stained wood bar, charcoal-hued concrete floor, and black walls, the space feels contemporary and cool, yet cozy.
One of the great things about KazuNori is its relative affordability. Anyone who has kids knows that taking them out for sushi can be a wildly fun ride that ends with an unpleasant wham when the bill comes. (Don’t know about you, but when I take my 20-something, sushi-inhaling sons out for a “bite” and a beer, I don’t want to spend $100 or more per person.) The most expensive of the fixed-price multi-hand-roll menus is $29, and nearly all the individual rolls are under 10 bucks. I found the yellowtail and salmon pretty filling and stopped at two. Who knows? Maybe my boys will chow down six, but I figure that even with a beer or two, we’ll still be good.