There’s nothing better than a good, hidden sushi bar. Diners in Los Angeles can find the newest arrival from the genre in Beverly Hills, with Sushi Note Omakase opening Wednesday, September 6 in one very unexpected location. Drive down into the Rodeo Collection, a big retail complex housing luxury watch boutiques and multiple plastic surgeon offices, and stop at the parking garage’s valet stand. Step out and the restaurant is right there, hiding in plain sight next to a shoe repair, florist, and hair salon, the “garden level” illuminated by Vegas-style faux skylights.
The out-of-the-way space is exactly what partners Andy Paxson (Melanie) and Dave Gibbs (Sushi Note, Mirabelle) found charming about their new omakase restaurant, headed by Sushi Note’s Kiminobu Saito and operated day-to-day by his mentee Earl Aguilar. With just four counter seats and a few tables, the small restaurant adds to a storied history of hidden omakase restaurants in Beverly Hills’s Golden Triangle. It was just a few blocks down that Masa Tamayaka opened Ginza Sushi-Ko, at the time the most ambitious sushi restaurant in the country, before giving to space to his mentee, Hiro Urasawa, who operated the celebrated counter restaurant Urasawa until closing quietly a few years ago. Nozawa Bar continues to serve world-class sushi tucked behind Sugarfish in Beverly Hills in a tiny 10-seat room. LA clearly has a thing for semi-hidden sushi destinations, particularly in strip malls and other retail developments.
Sushi Note Omakase is meant to be much more attainable than Urasawa, priced just under $200 per person and served with the original Sherman Oaks restaurant’s commitment to pairing wine with high-end nigiri. (Traditional sake won’t even be a main recommendation unless diners specifically want it.) It’s here that beverage director Ian Lokey will pair rounded Sandrofay Nebbiolo with chu-toro or Daniel-Tientte Fefaix premier cru Chablis with Japanese red snapper kissed with yuzu juice and sea salt. Wine pairings cost either $100 or $150, with the reserve offering featuring harder-to-find, older vintage pours, like a Mersault premier cru Clos Des Boucheres monopole, or Gaston Chiquet brut champagne paired with baby shrimp topped with caviar. If the $200 price point feels unattainable, then a very cool 12-course, $125 omakase is available daily from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. for a literal happy hour of sushi.
Overall, the experience feels modern and fun without the stuffiness of more high-end omakase. The quality on the plate is evident from the luxurious cuts of fish to the slight flourishes conceived by both Saito and Aguilar. Hokkaido scallop gets the aromatic touch of black truffle salt while kohada (gizzard shad), Saito’s signature dish — and the one that first convinced Aguilar to follow in his steps — comes as a long slice with diagonal cuts. Aguilar himself, an accomplished chef who cooked at Scratch Bar in Encino among other places, is executing Saito’s Valley-style omakase with his own innovations, all of which stand on their own, but work even better with a gorgeous pour of wine. LA doesn’t lack for great sushi, but sushi with wine presented underground in the heart of Beverly Hills certainly comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise.
Reservations are required on Tock, with full payment at the time of booking. The standard 20-course menu’s first seating runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a second seating from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sushi Note Omakase is located at 421 North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210.