Little Tokyo is becoming a hotbed for the highest echelons of omakase. Though some iconic restaurants have closed recently, the neighborhood remains a robust epicenter for pricey, well-executed sushi in Los Angeles, with places like Kaneyoshi, Takeda, and Bar Sawa opening in recent years. The latest newcomer is Sakurako from chef Kimiyasu located in the former Komasa space on Second Street.
If the chef’s name sounds familiar, it’s because Kimi-san owns five locations of the mid-range Sushi Enya, with locations in Beverly Hills, Sawtelle Japantown, Marina del Rey, Pasadena, and Little Tokyo. The prolific chef brings a bevy of talent to Sakurako including head chef Akira Yoshida, master chef Tatsuki Kurogi, and pastry chef Shota Takaki.
Sakurako’s unique design centers on a low L-shaped wood counter that seats nine diners. Though there are other tables in the room, Sakurako is currently only seating people at the bar with plans to host larger parties in the future. To start, Kurogi prepares anywhere from six to seven composed appetizers reflecting his extensive training at restaurants like kappo-style Kigawa and kaiseki-style Nadaman, both in Osaka. Kurogi sources as many ingredients from local farmers markets as possible.
The starters might consist of an intricate tableau of sakisuke (amuse) like komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach) in dashi broth; wagyu roast beef with egg yolk sauce and watercress; shrimp with baby turnip, kabocha, and snap peas; pickled dried squid and kelp; and deep-fried sawagani river crabs — all laid out like a piece of table art. (Head server Asaka Bozic-Kikuchi told Eater that the tiny river crabs escaped from their container during a recent service and crawled around the kitchen. Needless to say, the crabs are quite fresh.) Next, the sashimi plate might feature slices of king mackerel with an onion sauce, flake salt, and fresh wasabi with a side of amaebi (shrimp), uni sauce, and caviar.
After the composed plates, Yoshida serves a parade of sushi featuring seasonal fish, which is the main focus of the omakase experience. The chef trained at a bevy of one- and two-Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, as well as the Sakai in Frankfurt, Germany, before coming to LA to be part of Sakurako. Last week, Yoshida was slicing the season’s first catches of bluefin tuna, serving a gorgeous chu-toro over shari.
Takaki, who worked 10 years as a pastry chef in Kumamoto, serves fully plated desserts; a welcomed contrast from the usual scoops of green tea or black sesame ice creams that many omakase restaurants serve. Diners might see an intricate honey and kumquat mousse topped with orange slices surrounded by finger biscuits, its plate dotted with raspberry sauce and dried kumquat. To drink is a curated menu of craft beer, small-producer sake, and wine; beverage pairings will be available in the future.
Sakurako offers seatings on Tock at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday for $250 per person before tax, beverages, and tip. A $100 deposit is required to book a seat. Walk-ins are available on a limited basis depending on availability.