Sushi Tama (North Robertson): A Pictorial Essay

Having enjoyed a really nice take-out order from Sushi Tama back in August 2020, I decided that I needed to try the full counter omakase experience once dine-in was allowed again.

This first omakase served to me by Chef Hideyuki Yoshimoto (Yoshi-san) proved to be superbly balanced and fully satisfying. A Tokyo native, Yoshi-san paid his dues at Tsukiji Market, where he ran a sushi bar in near the Outer Market for over a decade. While there, he cultivated relationships with many of the Tsukiji-based fishmongers. This becomes a key reason why Yoshi-san’s neta is so wonderful at Sushi Tama.

After his stint at Tsukiji, Showa Hospitality recruited Yoshi-san to head up Sushi Tama L.A. Moving to Los Angeles during the pandemic was quite the uprooting for Yoshi-san, but he seems to have taken it all in stride (he’s still getting to know the city). I point-blank asked Yoshi-san if he is required to adhere to any particular style of sushi in keeping with his Showa investors’ demands. With a grin, he eagerly replied no; he is free to express his personal style of sushi at Tama. “What I serve here, you will not find at the other Showa restaurants.”

Currently, there is officially only one sushi omakase option at Sushi Tama: A $100 per person, 10-piece affair. But I asked Yoshi-san if he could curate a $200 or so option for me, and he happily agreed.

Let the madness begin! The in-house hand sanitizer provided by Sushi Tama was a nice touch. At first, I was a concerned as nose-wise, this was a bit on the isopropyl alcohol-forward side up front, which may have detracted from my enjoyment of the upcoming meal. But the volatility factor kicks in shortly after applying, and there is no chemical smell whatsoever at all.

Hot green tea: The teacup lid is a nice touch…

What’s missing? No hashi (chopsticks)! A small misstep, quickly remediated by the servers…

Sake: A carafe of chilled Suigei - my server was generous with each pour…

Sashimi assortment: Hotaru ika with vinegared shiro miso, chu-toro, hotategai… “This is the last week in the season for firefly squid. These were never frozen; there is a difference in taste,” explains Yoshi-san. Wow, he’s right! They were fabulous…

Pacific oyster with ponzu: Freshly shucked, this was really good.

Shoga appears, so it must be time for nigiri.

I ordered a birru (Asahi draft)…

Kinmedai: Usually one sees searing for kinmedai nigiri, but not here. Simple sea salt adorns the nigiri, and the resulting bite is quite (pleasantly) different from the seared version I’ve had.

Hirame: profound…

A word on Yoshi-san’s shari: He uses only Japanese rice, one single koshihikari strain, lightly vinegared, and relatively tightly packed. The temperature of the rice at Tama is a pinch warmer than most served by other shokunin in L.A. (and Tokyo, for that matter). But fear not, for it’s nowhere near Sasabune’s ridiculous warmth level. The bite of each pearly grain is wonderful, and the shari truly showcases the neta, as it should.

Nodoguro: Great cut, slightly seared to bring out the oils… Great stuff.

Aji: Just lovely…

Seared hotate: Yoshi-san apologizes that the landlord does not allow open charcoal fires in this space, else he would bust out the binchotan for this dish. He is fully forgiven, because the nori he uses here is out of this world! It possesses all sorts of delightful crunch, and chock full of umami. Huge bite!!!

Kanpachi: Beautiful…

Honmaguro akami (from off the coast of Spain): Rich and deep…

Shima aji: Whoa - So delicious! Huge bite!!!

Yoshi-san breaks out the skewer…

Seared mirugai with a dash of lemon juice… Damn, this dude is serious. I had no idea how much searing would transform the geoduck clam for the better. It is slightly sweet, with the overall taste of the clam somehow concentrated beyond anything I could imagine. Another huge bite!!!

Iwashi: Seeing how I enjoyed the earlier hikarimono pieces, Yoshi-san serves up a beautiful sardine. The knife-work is on display here.

Honmaguro zuke: Terrific aging on this piece of tuna. I melt.

Mozuku: An interlude from the sea…

Chu-toro aburi with yuzu kosho: Incredible variety of textures here!

Tai, topped with foagura (foie gras): Oh, how I’ve missed you. Huge bite!

Bafun uni box (Hokkaido, by way of Tsukiji): Yoshi-san doesn’t mess around…

Bafun uni gunkan: The otherworldly nori, combined with the brine-tinged notes from the Japanese uni, ignites all sorts of tastebuds. Huge bite!

O-toro: Simply sublime…

Mirugai: The orthodox nigiri prep here; with the muscles still twitching…

Seared kama-toro: Rare cut alert! Tuna fatty collar kicks butt! Huge Bite!

Kohada: Yoshi-san sees me enjoying hikarimono, so he offers me more…

Myoga: Refreshing palate cleanser…

Oshinko maki: Remember that shiso leaf from my first dish (the sashimi)? Well, in keeping with the tradition of mottainai (using everything up), Yoshi-san kept that leaf in preparing an ume-based oshinko roll for me, and it was splendid…

“Take photos of this next one quickly,” Yoshi-san instructs me. “Because the nori must remain crunchy!” Hai, onegashimasu

Toro-takuan-ikura temaki: And of course, he’s right (again) - The handroll is truly light-years better when the nori is at its crunchiest…

Asari miso soup: Delicate…

Seared A5 wagyu: “How can I forget to serve you wagyu?!” Yoshi-san jokes. Seriously awesome, this bite of beef…

Dessert: House-made matcha ice cream in green tea mochi…

Total tab (with tax, but before tip): $224. Service was attentive (I didn’t have to pour my own sake at all) and friendly. Parking: On the street (Robertson Blvd.), maximum 2 hours limit. Reservation were easy to procure (via Resy).

The premium omakase I requested at Sushi Tama was stupendous, easily rivalling many of the more expensive omakases around town. I’d like to see more otsumami and dessert options on future visits here, but Yoshi-san is really off to a strong start in his new home. I wish Yoshi-san and Sushi Tama the success it fully deserves.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Sushi Tama
116 N. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
424.249.3009

www.sushitama-la.com

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Thanks for the great report @J_L

That is still a nice “value” considering the quality. I would definitely go for your $200 omakase suggestion. The iwashi is looking superb and I do love their nori flavor/texture from my one outdoor experience and one takeout.

With the two new J-Town openings and Atwater, this place totally fell under my radar. Definitely going to plan omakase in the near future.

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thanks for the report, looks great.

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Considering going here in the near future. The website doesn’t have any omakase options listed and I admit I’m a bit confused by the pricing - individual nigiri prices range from $3.50 - $8 (not counting vegetables or “wagyu + uni”). Unless the 10-piece sushi omakase starts with sashimi and ends with asari miso soup + a hand roll, I’m not sure how you get to $100 (though even then the nigiri would need to lean heavily on the pricier end). For reference, it looks like you could order one of everything on the menu, except vegetables and “wagyu + uni”, which works out to 21 pieces of sushi, for ~$106, which sounds like a screaming bargain at the implied level of quality - though admittedly you won’t get any yakitori, mirugai, or kama toro :slight_smile:

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Sounds like a bargain and a half!

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Guess I’ll have a chance to figure out it soon :slight_smile:

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