Los Angeles’s blossoming plant-based sushi restaurant scene draws inspiration from Japanese tradition, California cuisine, and shojin ryori (Japanese Buddhist cuisine). Whether one is a longtime vegan, a sushi enthusiast, or somewhere in between, the city holds unique opportunities for experiencing the creativity and innovation redefining maki, sashimi, nigiri, and more.
Avocado or cucumber rolls have long been the sole vegan menu options across town, with a few notable exceptions including LA’s first vegan sushi restaurant Shojin, which opened in 2008 in Little Tokyo. Now, better faux fish choices and a greater emphasis on plants and mushrooms are changing the sushi landscape. The chefs behind the counter are up for the culinary challenge, tapping into a breadth of new ingredients, appealing to a wider audience, and contributing to sustainability, all while prioritizing tastes, textures, and compositions.
Head to the five restaurants featured in this guide to understand and appreciate the local vegan sushi scene in all its plant-, fungi-, and algae-based glory.
Founded in 2021 by Chalita Ramasoot and Phanicha Sriworakul and led by chef Piyamit Buppachat, the Plant Lab food truck can be found at various locations around Los Angeles including on York Boulevard in Highland Park. With rolls endearingly named after famous scientists and philosophers, it’s easy to be charmed by the truck before even tasting a single bite of its sushi. The menu, chock-full of maki and nigiri options, includes a few signature rolls like the Aristotle comprised of sashimi, snow crab, seaweed ikura, pickled radish, and avocado. Also of note is the Pi roll made with shrimp tempura and the Newton roll with chickpea spicy tuna and oyster mushrooms.
The Plant Lab is usually parked at 5040 York Boulevard in Highland Park from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Check Instagram for additional locations.
Located beside a 7-Eleven in West LA, Kusaki serves an upscale omakase from chefs Pearl Steffie and Dillon Bolin. The menu, which takes inspiration from kaiseki culture, challenges the notion that Japanese haute cuisine requires seafood to evoke culinary brilliance. From blow-torched miso eggplant nigiri to deep-fried shiso leaf topped with spicy tuna, spicy aioli, ponzu, and microgreens, the dishes showcase ingenuity and artistry. Whether partaking in the five- ($65) or seven-course ($95) omakase or just ordering a la carte, Kusaki’s understated and exceptional food will change the hearts and minds of skeptical seafood enthusiasts. To drink are sake, beer, wine, and cocktails.
Kusaki is located at 2535 S. Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90064, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Shojin, which opened its first location in Little Tokyo in 2008 and a second one in Culver City in 2013, is acclaimed for being the first vegan sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. Led by Hiroshima-born chef Jun Matoshiro, Shojin sources ingredients that are organic and macrobiotic. Find classy decor, lit candles, and jazz playing at the Little Tokyo location. The Culver City location offers a similar ambiance and the option for outdoor patio seating. Menu highlights at both locations include the Saturday Night Fever roll, which is topped with torched mushroom “crab” that doesn’t quite mimic the crustacean. Also notable is the rainbow roll, which balances colorful mixed vegetables with the subtlety of shiso leaves and yuzu ponzu; the roll is topped with pickled red cabbage. Shojin serves a tasting menu ($68 per person) and an omakase menu ($78 per person) that changes monthly.
Shojin in Little Tokyo (333 S. Alameda Street, Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90013) is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Shojin in Culver City (12406 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066) is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Santō, a Japanese Mexican fusion restaurant that got its start in Mexico City, serves an impressive selection of plant-based sushi for not being a vegan restaurant. Led by chef Hiroshi Kawahito, the Silver Lake location offers a glorious spicy tuna roll that captures the flavors and textures of the fish it aims to imitate. Santō also offers dishes that center on fresh vegetables and fungi, like the truffled zucchini sashimi, avocado nigiri, and enoki and shimeji mushroom hand roll. The restaurant is ideal for anyone dining with a group requiring both seafood and plant-based options.
Santō is located at 3822 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026, and is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Contemporary dancer and chef Yoko Hasebe started Plant Sushi Yoko in 2020. Focusing on seasonal vegetables, fruits, and fungi, Hasebe’s style respects each ingredient and emphasizes local production. The Los Angeles-based chef holds sushi-making classes at Toiro and pop-ups at places like Jewel and LA Homefarm, offers private catering, and even delivers sushi boxes and platters ($40 to $75) filled with assorted seasonal maki and nigiri to homes.