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Rollin' For Local Japanese Restaurant Miyako Sushi

The sushi bar, which is half of the 2-in-1 restaurant Dragon Street and Miyako Sushi, is a local's go-to spot for Japanese (or Chinese) food.

It's Monday night at , and I am sitting at the bar with my husband, trying not to get distracted by the L.A. Dodgers vs. Anaheim Angels game playing on the wall-mounted television behind the sushi chef. I'm not a baseball fan, much less a sports devotee in general, but there's something about screens at restaurants and bars that render me a zombie at meals.

To our right, there's a lively couple who look to be in their mid-40s, but act like teenagers on their first date after a bottle or two of sake. The bar seats about 15 to 16 people, and during the course of our dinner, there are only six other diners. We both try hard not to eavesdrop on our supper neighbors' conversations, but when the man one seat over is raving that Miyako is now his new favorite sushi spot, it's hard for us not to give him a nod in agreement.

We'd just watched a documentary the previous night, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, that we'd finally caught after missing its run at the . The film tells the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, a Michelin-awarded sushi chef whose life goal is perfecting his art and providing the best food possible for his customers.  The movie features dozens of close-ups of tuna sashimi, eel and octopus, and by the end of it, we were craving sushi well past closing time on Sunday.

It's a rare thing for me to crave Asian food over my usual Italian or Mexican meal favorites, but my husband takes advantage of the fact that I'm actually on board to eat his favorite type of fare.

We order miso soup to start, and its woody aftertaste is just one of the reasons why Miyako is my favorite local sushi bar. By then, the vivacious couple next to us is entertaining the chef, and we're surprised he hasn't yet bought him sake shots.

I've learned my lesson from ordering all-you-can-eat. On our last visit, I struggled to eat the last few bites of my cucumber rolls, and despite a full stomach, I still hadn't managed to consume $24.50 of food. I'm not at all adventurous when it comes to seafood. Between being allergic to shellfish (my Filipino ancestors are probably not pleased) and barely being open trying anything but tuna and salmon (the ancestors are surely shaking with anger by now), I've limited most of my sushi options.  

This time, I decide to change my strategy: Instead of my usual avocado and California rolls, I get egg sushi and order the Crazy Roll off their special sushi menu. It's a California roll with baked halibut and a creamy sauce, topped with smelt roe. By the time I finish my food, I can barely help my husband finish whatever's left of his spicy tuna and spicy yellow tail rolls. I've finally found the secret to staying full 30 minutes after a sushi dinner: sushi with baked fish on top.

By the time we're done, we notice the couple next to us seem to be having a pretty nice date, judging by their hard-to-miss P.D.A. I keep checking up on the baseball game playing in front of us, though I have no idea who's winning at this point. I'm just trying to kill time and digest so I'll have room for their must-have tempura ice cream. I'm still mastering the art of chopstick-using – I blame my poor skills on the trivial fact that I'm left-handed – but I'm looking forward to eating my dessert with a fork.

is located at 5005 Lankershim Boulevard in the NoHo Arts District.  The sushi bar's business hours are Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, Sundays to Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m. for dinner.

Michael Higby July 20, 2012 at 09:40 PM
You can definitely find more gourmet and better sushi elsewhere, BUT, there is no more true neighborhood sushi joint than Miyako. Of any of the AYCE sushi bars in LA, Miyako is overwhelmingly the best value - despite my first statement - the sushi at Miyako is delicious and well made. But the overall experience, service, ambiance and pricing make it tops. I've been going to Miyako since I moved back to the District in 2006 and have been there likely over a 100 times. When I need a sushi fix, it's exactly the place for me. It is truly the "Cheers" of sushi where if you are a regular, everyone knows your name. From the soft spoken but hilarious (and deep) sushiman KiHo, to his cool dude partner in crime, Jesse, to the shy but impish maitre'd, Johan to the cute and sweet waitress, Pook, the staff is a delight. The thing about Miyako, compared to other local AYCE joints like Midori for example (horrific service) is that they appreciate and want to please your customers. For sure, they have the usual AYCE rules to keep shady sushi eaters from gaming the system but they do not treat you with suspicion or disdain and do allow for some bending of the rules to suit the customer's satisfaction. They also have a great selection of Asian beers and sake. One other thing, that I don't personally avail myself of but might be helpful to sushi eaters whose friends and family cannot fathom the cuisine, is that Miyako is attached to a Chinese restaurant, and both menus are available.

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