If you think taking the kids out to sushi sounds “so LA” you’re right, because in this town sushi joints are as common as coffee shops. But here’s the thing—we are so LA, and proud of it, since it means our kids know their kappa from their tekka. But you still need a kid friendly & wallet friendly spot that serves your picky eater alongside your omakase orderer. These are our favorite sushi spots that fit the bill and fill the belly.
photo credit: Joel S. via flickr
You might pass this Korea town gem if you didn’t know it’s here. Don’t let the unassuming building fool you because the deliciousness that awaits is well worth the hunt. Kids eat free (large bowl of miso soup with loads of white rice) with purchase of sushi for the adults. Hand rolls are easy to hold and sushi chefs are great at finding something even the pickiest of eaters will love. Try the tamago (egg) sushi or a plain California roll for beginners. Parents can’t go wrong with the citrus scallop sashimi appetizer and a cold bottle of sake. This place can get crowded, so try coming around 5 p.m. before the dinner rush. They’re also open for lunch. It’s never too early to chow down on sushi.
Good to know: Noshi is cash only. There is an ATM in the restaurant, but it’s still good to bring cash.
4430 Beverly Blvd., Korea Town
photo credit: Meghan Rose
Kabuki wins the award for the easiest way to introduce little ones to the world of sushi. In fact, they are the only sushi restaurant we’ve seen with such an extensive kids menu. There are six kids meal combinations in total, each served with rice, salad and a drink. But enough about the kids – you’ll love the signature cocktails, sushi combos and rice bowls. Let the little ones color with crayons while you indulge.
Sushi Gen is located in the heart of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles, and they’ve been rolling since 1980. Whether you’re looking for octopus, albacore or something a little less daring their sushi chefs aim to please with a variety offerings. Kids will love the yummy fried tempura. It’s one way to get them to eat their veggies. Parents will love the fresh Alaskan salmon sushi, and pretty much everything else at this spot that is one of the best in town. (And kid friendly to boot! Bonus.)
Good to know: This place is a hop, skip and a jump from the Last Bookstore. It’s a great way to walk off a belly of fresh sushi.
422 E 2nd St., Little Tokyo
photo credit: Meghan Rose
If eating sushi isn’t novelty enough, Irori in Marina Del Rey lets diners remove their shoes before sitting at sunken tables. A slight twist on the traditional Japanese room, kiddos perch on tatami mats and dangle listless legs under the tables, awaiting well-balanced bento boxes filled with sashimi, rice, sunomono and fresh fruit. Irori welcomes reservations so wait times are minimal and the large dining room can accommodate larger groups, such as a birthday party.
4371 Glencoe Ave, Marina Del Rey
photo credit: Steven Depolo via flickr
A no-frills sushi bar in the heart of the West LA-Sawtelle corridor, Hide (pronounced “hee-day”) is a good stop for a casual meal, as long as you’re not in a hurry. The rolls are simple and sure to please young palettes. Lines can be long however, so early-bird hours are best for families; their no-reservations policy keeps the service efficient. Newbies will delight in the sushi choices, everything from hirame (halibut) to amaebi (sweet raw shrimp). Choose sashimi with tempura or teriyaki (or just the latter two) for a combination dinner, complete with tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and sunomono (vinegar-cured veggies). Street parking can be tricky during peak hours, so take advantage of Hide’s private valet parking, free with 1.5 hours validation. Also, be sure to bring cash or you’ll be subject to on-site ATM fees; this is another no credit card joint.
2040 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
Sandwiched between Goodwill and a kickboxing studio, this La Brea sushi house is a neighborhood favorite. Parents will love the Albacore Carpaccio roll, and kids will be more than satisfied with family friendly twists on classics like veggie and shrimp tempura rolls. This place has an awesome atmosphere complete with an 80s classic hits soundtrack; nothing like a little Depeche mode with your dynamite roll to liven up an evening. And the Star Wars pinball machine in the corner is definite draw for kids who have finished while there’s still sake in your cup.
Good to know: Do not park in the Goodwill parking lot next door, or you will be towed! Street parking is the way to go here. And if you’re really feeling fancy, there’s valet too.
809 S La Brea Ave., Mid-Town LA
photo credit: Dean Wissing via Creative Commons
This little spot on Larchmont Blvd. is super welcoming for kids – they greet you with miso soup and edamame (for free) as well as kid chopsticks. They’ll bring ice to the table to cool down soup or tea for little sippers, too. Go early before the crowds so kids can belly up to the bar to watch sushi being made. As for parents, everyone goes home happy with something from the extensive menu (the riceless rolls are especially tasty). And if kids get a little antsy, this street is perfect for parents taking turns bringing the squirmy ones for a stroll to check out the comic books at the nearby news stand, poke in Landis Labyrinth Toy Store or picking out some new bedtime reading at Chevalier’s Books. And for members of the clean plate club, Salt & Straw beckons with the finest ice cream in town.
246 N Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont Village LA
Katsu-ya and Izaka-ya
Master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi reigns over a mini-empire of Japanese cuisine, run by two separate corporate entities. To his credit, the sushi remains among the finest in town. The original location in Studio City, along ‘sushi row,’ boasts signature selections like the soy paper-wrapped honey roll (spicy tuna, crab, shrimp & avocado) and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, alongside cooked kids’ meals of teriyaki and tempura, accompanied by miso soup. Adventurous eaters will love the omakase (chef’s choice), ensuring the freshest fish available. Sister restaurant Izaka-ya, on busy West 3rd Street, serves up Katsu-ya’s specialties plus sunomono and a full menu of cooked fish and meats. In keeping with Izaka-ya’s nautically-themed interior, kids’ meals are proffered in a big boat. Partake of the Manhattan Beach location’s rakumori sampler (‘happy tray for two’) that can fill a few tiny tummies at once.
photo courtesy of Sunny Blue
Ready for something a little different? This tiny Main Street storefront in Santa Monica is the first (and only?) shop in SoCal serving omusubi, aka onigiri. These fluffy Japanese rice balls literally turns sushi inside out, with various fillings wrapped in rice, with or without nori. Choices range from spicy salmon to Thai-influenced chicken curry; the tuna mayo challenges your idea of the proverbial salad. When you’ve had your fill, sample their homemade organic frozen yogurt with unique toppings like crushed Pocky sticks, azuki red beans, Yuzu and Hello Panda cookies. Seating is virtually non-existent, save a couple of counter stools and outdoor café tables. But it’s perfect for sushi to go and the beach (and a popular playground) are just a couple of blocks away.
2728 Main St., Santa Monica
Looking for conveyor best sushi joints? Kids love the serve yourself aspect of those spots so much that we have a whole separate list of the best ones for kids in LA.
In a town as full of sushi fanatics as LA, there are loads of great and tucked away kiddo-approved sushi spot. Share your favorite hidden gem in the comments below.
-Christina Fiedler & Kim Orchen-Cooper