99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Sushi Iki

photo by Amy Scattergood

If you find yourself with 90 minutes for lunch on a weekday and you’re anywhere even close to Tarzana, you should consider the wisdom of pulling up a chair at Eddie Okamoto’s sushi bar. Why 90 minutes? Because that’s the window Okamoto has given you for lunch at Sushi Iki on the four days a week he serves it, an amount of time dictated by the fact that most days he’s downtown buying fish at 5 a.m., and it takes some time to sort through boxes of Santa Barbara uni and haggle over toro from Tokyo before heading back to the Western San Fernando Valley. Of course you could have dinner here, too, but Okamoto is often in rare form during daylight hours — and it’s better light for Instagramming. Okamoto is a mad fiend for Instagram. The other thing the chef likes to do is qualify his fish not only by country of origin but by ocean depth. Thus the kimme dai (“golden eye! James Bond!”) is from 600 feet, and the hamachi (dab of yuzukoshō) is from 300 feet, as is a sliver of kawahagi folded over a bit of its own liver (“the foie gras of the sea!”) with osetra caviar and shiso leaf, a stunning creation that you may want to Instagram for posterity — although Okamoto has done that for you too.

-- Amy Scattergood