Izakaya emerges as staple sushi spot

Ava Fattahi

Little Izakaya by Katsu-ya is a small chain sushi restaurant with unique, shareable dishes. The restaurant is owned by Katsu-ya enterprises, which is well known for its sushi spots across Los Angeles. Izakaya is the company’s most secluded restaurant, and is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Sherman Oaks. Containing a large variety of dishes, Izakaya caters to a wide audience. Some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes include the spicy tuna on crispy rice, albacore sashimi with crispy onion and an assortment of hand rolls.

Around 5:30 p.m, the restaurant was not too crowded, as they had just opened for dinner. The inside of the restaurant is lined with about 12 tables and a sushi bar, along with a vast amount of intricate Japanese decorations in the building. The restaurant buzzes with new customers coming in every minute, and servers rush around the kitchen. Some of their specialties include their spicy tuna rolls, creamy popcorn shrimp, cajun salmon rolls, albacore sashimi and crispy rice with spicy tuna.

At the sushi bar, service was quite fast. The wait for the dishes varied depending on its ingredients and preparation time, starting off with the spicy tuna cut rolls, filled with spicy tuna with cucumber wrapped in white rice and soy paper. The rice was warm and sticky, and the cucumber added a nice crunch to the dish. The spice of the tuna was a bit dull,, but other than that, the six piece order was delicious.The spicy tuna with crispy rice. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. The crispy rice provided a nice contrast to the soft, spicy and creamy tuna. Overall, this dish was a real winner because of its one-of-a-kind flavors and textures.

Then came my albacore sashimi with crispy onions. This dish consisted of thinly sliced albacore tuna with a flavorful soy-ponzu sauce topped with crispy onions. This was a close tie for my favorite dish of the night. The fish itself was soft and light and paired perfectly with the salty soy-ponzu sauce. The crispy onion topping was the icing on the cake, providing a satisfying crunch in every bite. The cajun salmon roll consisted of baked cajun-seasoned salmon with cucumber and avocado, wrapped in white rice in soy paper. The rolls were served with a mustard aioli on the side. The salmon was a little bit dry, but other than that, the flavors in this dish were incredible. The spiciness in the cajun seasoning paired well with the strong flavor of the mustard aioli. The cucumber provided a fresh, cold aspect of the dish that I really enjoyed.

The final dish was the creamy popcorn shrimp. This is one of the restaurant’s most popular and iconic dishes. It was made of tempura fried shrimp tossed in creamy sriracha sauce and scallions. If I were to change one thing about this dish, I would improve the portion size. There were only about seven pieces of shrimp in my order, and a few more would have been nice. Compared to its sister restaurants, most of Izakaya’s dishes seem to have smaller portion sizes.

The prices of Izakaya’s sushi were lower than those at its sister restaurants as well. It is understandable that they have smaller dishes since their prices are reasonable. Happy hour is from five to six, which is when select dishes have lower prices. it was happy hour, meaning they had select dishes for lower prices. Some dishes on the happy hour menu included hand rolls, cut rolls, and a few appetizers.

Overall, Izakaya is the right place for decently priced sushi with appetizing dishes. Its eclectic atmosphere and speedy service make it an amazing experience. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick place to grab delicious sushi dishes while staying in budget.