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Sawtelle’s Beloved Kiriko Sushi Closed Last Night, After 23 Years in Business

Chef-owner Ken Namba sold the business, but says a future restaurant could be on the horizon

O–Toro sashimi with fresh wasabi at Kiriko sushi in West Los Angeles.
Toro sashimi at Kiriko Sushi.
Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Last week, Sawtelle’s sushi specialist Kiriko Sushi announced on Facebook that it would be closing after 23 years in business. Chef-owner Ken Namba told Eater that he sold the business and a new restaurant with a different name will take its place. Last night, August 30, was the restaurant’s last night of service.

Namba said that following an upcoming hand surgery, he will likely open a new restaurant. “It’s been a long career, and I’ve used my hands so much,” said Namba. “If I can, we will come back with a new and nearby restaurant.”

Kiriko was nestled on that popular slice of Olympic Boulevard near Sawtelle. Namba set up shop there in 1999, well before Sawtelle Japantown/West LA became the buzzy stretch it is now, and earned a loyal following over the years. He did so by creating consistently delicious sushi and sashimi at approachable prices. A nine-piece omakase with fresh fish cut by Namba himself cost only $60; two other omakase options were equally reasonable.

It wasn’t uncommon to hear Namba’s own friendly voice answering the restaurant’s phone. That affable component only elevated Kiriko’s status within sushi-competitive Southern California.

Regulars came from all over the city, treating Kiriko as their own neighborhood spot. They kept coming because Namba — who began his career as a sushi apprentice in 1974 and earned Michelin recognition in 2021 — has long trusted newcomers to sample lesser-known fish like buri (amberjack) or firefly squid. But he would never judge if a customer ordered a California roll.

Namba posted the following on Kiriko Sushi’s Facebook page:

Kiriko

11301 West Olympic Boulevard, , CA 90064 (310) 478-7769 Visit Website