99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Kiriko

photo by Anne Fishbein

Years before the few blocks of Sawtelle Boulevard near Olympic called Little Osaka became a hipsteropolis of fantastic ramen-yas, there was Kiriko, Ken Namba’s surprisingly low-key sushi restaurant. Surprising because “low-key” and “sushi” are mostly found together in somewhat questionable fish establishments, the kind where California rolls often go round and round in an automated circle. None of that here! Opened in 1999, Kiriko was then and is now one of the best sushi places in a town jammed with them, a smallish room where you can find dishes both highly traditional and very modern. This juxtaposition is probably best found in Namba’s justly famous pairing of house-smoked salmon and ripe mango, a deceptively simple dish that you might be tempted to try at home but really shouldn’t. If that’s too tricky for you, just sit back and order the omakase (assuming the possibility of kelp-flavored barracuda isn’t too jarring) or console yourself with uni chawanmushi, a consolation if ever there was one.

-- Amy Scattergood