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Nozawa, blue crab hand roll pioneer, to open rolls-only Kazu-Nori downtown

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The team behind the ever expanding Sugarfish chain of sushi restaurants, which have successfully marketed chef Kazunori Nozawa's affordable "Trust Me" menus to the masses, is now set to open a sushi bar downtown serving only hand rolls and cut rolls.

Kazu-Nori is expected to open this summer on Main Street in what was formerly a dry cleaner on the ground floor of the Old Bank District Parking Garage. 

Tom Nozawa, Kazunori Nozawa's son and along with his father a Sugarfish co-founder, says the 25-seat counter will serve hand rolls to dine-in customers, so that the warm, loosely packed rice that Nozawa is known for stays warm and the nori (seaweed) stays crisp. So no hand rolls to go.

Some sashimi might also be offered, he said. Cut rolls will be on the menu and available for to-go orders. 

"Burritos and burgers shouldn't be the only fast-meal option," he said.

Was it Kazunori Nozawa who started the ubiquitous trend of serving blue crab hand rolls at the end of an omakase meal or lunch special? Maybe.

"I'm pretty sure Nozawa was first with the crab hand roll as the obligatory last bite," said Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. "The guys from Sasabune, Go's Mart, Zo, Echigo and Hiko all worked for him. Kiriko and Shunji also do them, but Nozawa's was the first I noticed."

Tom Nozawa said that there will be a selection of about 10 hand rolls on the menu. Although he would not talk specifically about prices, he said he expects diners to have three to four hand rolls for less than $20.

The hand rolls currently served at Sugarfish include cucumber ($4), toro fatty tuna ($4.75), salmon ($4.25), bay scallop ($4.25), yellowtail ($4.75), blue crab ($4.50) and lobster ($7).

Kazu-Nori also is applying for a beer and wine license, with a planned list of beers and sake.

421 S. Main St., Los Angeles, www.sushinozawa.com.

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