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Sushi has exploded in popularity since it’s introduction to the mainstream in the early 1980’s. Now, it’s impossible to travel a few blocks without seeing at least one sushi restaurant. However, not all sushi restaurants are created equal. While some cater to the masses, others fill various niches – fusion, traditional, various styles, etc. One particular style, omakase (chef’s choice in Japanese), has been pleasing hardcore sushi enthusiasts for decades. For those searching for the best omakase meal money can buy, it is without a doubt that one man, Hiro Urasawa, delivers up the best sushi in the United States.

Situated in the plush commercial area of Beverly Hills, the entrance to Urasawa is quite hidden – you definitely wouldn’t know where to go if you weren’t looking. And in case the message wasn’t clear enough, reservations are definitely required – the chef only brings enough food to last through the night. The shop was once owned by Masa Takayama, and when he moved to New York to open up the aptly named Masa, Hiro left it all on the table and purchased the restaurant from Masa. To some, the student is now the master.

Standing as the only two-Michelin star restaurant in Los Angeles, the dining experience at Urasawa is unlikely to be one that you’ll find again. The entire restaurant is basically Hiro’s work area, a bar that sits about 10, and 1 lonely table off to the side. Groups often book the entire dining room so they can have Hiro all to themselves. They take such pride in their work that the bar is sanded down daily, by hand. But really now, you don’t come here for the beautiful decor, you’re coming here for the food – and Urasawa more than delivers.

Lasting an average of 3-5 hours, a meal at Urasawa isn’t just dinner, it’s an event. Dinners are usually broken down into two parts: during the first half, Hiro serves up many hot and cold dishes, with a heavy dose of seasonality thrown in. The second half is reserved strictly for sushi and sashimi; you can expect about 25-32 “courses” during the span of your meal.

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Two of Hiro’s signature dishes are his shabu shabu dish and sashimi plate. The sashimi is served on a hand carved ice block, and while completely unnecessary, does have a purpose – it keeps your fish at the optimum temperature before you consume it. While the contents of the sashimi plate vary daily, it’s featured various types of toro, cuts of kobe that may very well be illegal, octopus, as well as a number of assorted fish. Lobster, if available, is a treat – it’s usually flown in from Japan and carved up right before you eat it, a classic Japanese preparation. Hiro’s shabu shabu is without rival. Shabu shabu means literally “swish swish”, usually denoting the sound that thinly sliced beef makes when you dip it into the boiling water to cook. Of course, Hiro’s beef is usually A-8 Kobe, and served with lobster and foie gras. Don’t forget to drink the soup at the end, it’s delish.

Of course, food this good doesn’t come cheap – at a minimum of $375/pp, the cost of a single dinner is more than a week’s worth of work. However, when you consider the 28 courses and the freshest of ingredients flown in directly from Japan, the price isn’t so bad. In fact, some people go as far as to say the meal is a bargain. While we don’t go that far, rest assured – a trip to Urasawa isn’t just dinner, it’s an experience.

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