It felt surreal to sidle up to the eight-seat sushi counter at Bar Sawa on a Friday evening back in September. Though my current dining habits have mostly returned to Before Times ways, I hadn’t partaken in a proper omakase since prior to the pandemic. Joining me for an evening of sushi and whisky was my homie B-Side. It was a beautiful night in Little Tokyo.
While Sawa offers cocktail pairings for $45, I opted to nurse a stiff Old Fashioned made with Japanese whisky ($17) for the evening. My companion opted for the beverage pairing, which entailed choosing three cocktails from the list of available drinks. He would’ve preferred a more curated experience with personalized recommendations that enhanced various courses.
Behind the counter at this underground spot is executive chef Anthony Nguyen. The omakase ($170) featured a trio of appetizers, nearly a dozen nigiri, a lil’ helping of somen noodles, and dessert. While I very much enjoyed the experience overall, the pacing at the start was somewhat haphazard for my taste, with appetizers and nigiri interspersed with one another; a clear delineation between starters and sushi would have been preferred.
The trio of starters included panko-fried kajiki (swordfish) with a shibazuke (Japanese pickled cucumber and eggplant) tartar sauce.
Smoked and soy-marinated chutoro (medium fatty bluefin tuna) in a shiso sauce.
Sous vide ankimo (monkfish liver).
Saba herb mackerel with pickled radish and goma mixed rice.
Aji horse mackerel with shio shoga.
A duo of ocean trout (masu) with pickled shallots and ivory king salmon (Masunosuke) with pickled shallots.
Kanpachi amberjack with shio shoga.
Kombu-marinated ao ebi blue crystal shrimp.
My favorite was the otoro (fatty bluefin tuna) nigiri with a teeny heap of ginger-garlic sauce and salted jalapenos.
Santa Barbara sea urchin with truffle salt.
Hokkaido scallops prepared sous vide (nihotate) with scallop reduction syrup.
Ebi dashi somen, a shrimp-infused fish broth with noodles.
And finally, a Basque-inspired, soy sauce-infused cheesecake that was reminiscent of tamago. Delightful.
One of my many dining ambitions in 2023 is to eat at sister restaurant Sushi Kaneyoshi, which is located just a stone’s throw away from Bar Sawa. Who’s in?
111 South San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Omakases to remember…
Sushi Gen – Los Angeles (Little Tokyo)
Nozawa Bar – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)
Q Sushi – Los Angeles (Downtown)
Asanebo – Los Angeles (Studio City)
Mori Sushi – Los Angeles (West LA)
Sushi Kanesaka – Tokyo, Japan
Kaiseki at Hayato – Los Angeles (Downtown)
Kaiseki at N/Naka – Los Angeles (Palms)