Feb 2011

Sushi Komasa – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

Last Thursday called for something special for dinner. It was Tết and all, and I wanted to ring in the Year of the Cat with some fanfare. Since grandma’s house was too far to travel to on a weeknight and no bánh chưng or bánh tét were to be found in the fridge, The Astronomer and I drove downtown for dinner at Komasa.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

Komasa was opened by Hokkaido-born Chef Minoru two decades ago and has been a Little Tokyo staple ever since. Prior to opening the restaurant, Chef Minoru spent 35 years working at sushi bars in Japan and the U.S.

With a reputation for fresh fish at fair prices, Komasa is almost always packed. We were warned by our friends that long waits were the norm, and sure enough, The Astronomer and I wandered around the neighborhood for a solid hour before our seats at the bar opened up.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

We placed our order while waiting outside, so the appetizer arrived soon after we sat down. The slices of “Soft Tofu” ($4.20) were served chilled and topped with sliced scallions, grated fresh ginger, and salty bonito flakes. I poured in a dash of soy sauce to liven things up even further. The texture of the tofu was silky smooth, while the flavor was pure, unadulterated soy.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

For the next part of our meal, we shared “Sushi Combination C” ($16). The eleven-piece tray came with halibut, red snapper, shrimp, yellowtail, octopus, salmon, tuna (2), sea urchin, tobiko (flying fish roe), and ikura (salmon roe).

Though totally fresh, the pieces of fish were shoddily cut and assembled. Some pieces were smeared with way too much wasabi, causing The Astronomer and me to wince in pain. I appreciated the quality of the fish, especially the pieces of salmon and tuna, but was disappointed with the careless manner in which everything was made.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

To supplement the sushi combo, we ordered three rolls. All of the rolls were made in the same sloppy fashion as the sushi, but considering the price point and the goodness of the fish, I really shouldn’t be complaining. The “Yellowtail with Scallion” roll ($4.20) was straightforward and tasty.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

I can’t ever resist ordering a “Spicy Tuna” roll ($4.20), and this one had an appealing kick.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

The only let down was the less-than-crunchy “Spider Roll” ($10). The soft shell crab wasn’t fried to order and, as a result, lacked the oomph and pow that makes spider rolls so gosh darn good.

Sushi Komasa - Little Tokyo

To close out the evening, we split two pieces of fresh water eel ($4.20) Warm, sweet, and oily, the eel nigiri turned out to be the best bite of the night.

I totally understand the appeal of Komasa, but would rather pay a bit more for sushi that’s made with care. Indifference is a real appetite killer.

Sushi Komasa
351 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213-680-1792

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14 thoughts on “Sushi Komasa – Los Angeles (Downtown)

  1. Your always-great photography really brought out the sloppiness in the sushi making! With such quality of fish, it’s surprising they don’t take a little more care in putting them together.

    I prefer Hama for their sushi..but you can’t beat the price here.

  2. awww…this is my old haunt. i’ve been a komasa addict for 6 years and counting now. i hit them up right when they open and during the work week when they are the least busy. it’s too bad that they weren’t on their “A” game that night, but in general, i appreciate their consistency, price points, and fresh fish.

  3. I’m a big Hide fan, and haven’t been to Komasa, but your post brings up the valid point of ‘form vs. function’ or in this case taste. To me, if it’s fresh, tastes amazing and it’s on a good price point, I don’t care if it’s ugly. It’s all going to get jumbled in my belly in the end.

  4. Yikes! That’s not a very good way to ring in the new year at all! I’m pleased that you too find spicy tuna rolls too good to pass up — see, we really ARE compatible! 😉

  5. KrisDub – A part of me agrees with you 100%, but the other part of me loves pretty things so much! I guess I eat with my eyes first, and then my mouth…

  6. I’m with Kung Fu Panda on this one– definitely a Komasa fan here. For the price, I can definitely overlook a little sloppiness hehe.

    I do prefer Komasa to Hide as Hide’s rice quality has gone down a ton over the past year or so… and for some reason I think Komasa’s fish is slightly better than Hamas.

  7. I walk by this place almost every time I’m in Little Tokyo and there is always a crowd of people waiting outside. Good to know I’m not missing out on sloppy and careless sushi.

  8. I agree w/bagnatic. It must have been an off night. Every time I’ve been, the food was yummy and prepared fine. I’ll go to Komasa over Sushi Gen.

  9. So far the best fish you can get in town. Eat at the bar. Even sushi Sheff from other places envy of this one. I have been to so many different sushi restaurants in LA. By far, nobody can beat this place yet. I’ve been going there for 15 years and not stopping.

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