I first visited back in March when the owner, Shig Chiba, was hosting a .
Chiba was born in Japan and moved to the San Fernando Valley when he was a young boy. He has many relatives from the territory of Miyagi, which was the area most affected by the tsunami. I listened carefully as he told me the horrible news: he lost an uncle, an aunt and two cousins in the disaster.
Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who went to high school with Chiba's brother, was sponsoring the event, and the councilman sure knows how to pull in a crowd because the place was a madhouse that day and the fundraiser was a smashing success. Several TV news crews were also on the scene, so it was not a good day to sample the sushi, but I promised myself I would come back to try the food.
I finally did last week when I was in the neighborhood. It was a magnificent feast of a lunch and the best sushi I have ever had.
Chiba's is a hole-in-the-wall joint located deep in North Hollywood at the corner of Saticoy Street and Lankershim Boulevard, and is a sit-down establishment with two sushi bars and about 10 tables. The neighborhood is a little dicey and the restaurant is in a strip mall that contains a donut shop, a liquor store and a tattoo parlor, but do not let that deter you from what can be a heavenly sushi extravaganza. There is also something very satisfying about walking into a small strip mall in North Hollywood and finding better sushi than you would at a fancy place in West Hollywood or Santa Monica. Like , it's a true hidden gem.
I've been there twice now, once for lunch during the week and once for dinner on a Saturday, and it was packed both times. Parking is tough in the tiny strip mall, but Chiba's offers free valet during busy hours. It also is heavily staffed as I counted 14 workers out on the floor and behind the sushi bars serving about 45 people, so I never felt like I was being neglected.
Word seems to have gotten out that Chiba's has some of the best sushi around. After my magnificent lunch that consisted of spicy tuna, spicy salmon and yellowtail rolls, I looked up the place online and was not surprised to find that over 200 yelp reviews had given Chiba's a positive rating for an overall 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many of the reviewers call it the best sushi joint in Los Angeles. I would agree in that I have yet to find its match.
The prices at Chiba's are a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for, and the portions are about as large as you will find. My recent dinner of two rolls and a Sapporo came to $26 and change, but if you crave and appreciate top quality sushi you will not feel overcharged.