We found good, reasonably priced omakase inside an Encino strip mall


Name: Okumura, named after chef-owner Ryota Okumura.

Who’s cooking: Okumura and a small crew of sushi chefs. Okumura studied at Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo (if you’ve ever watched the original “Iron Chef,” you’ve probably seen Hattori students assisting competitors) and worked at Koi, Katana and Sushi Zo in Los Angeles before opening his namesake restaurant in 2012. The restaurant is open seven days a week. He’s always there, and his wife works the floor.

Where you are: A sushi bar in the heart of Encino, in one of the many strip malls along Ventura Boulevard. The exterior is plain — you will probably enter from the back, because that’s where the giant parking lot is — but the restaurant is inviting and well decorated with attractive light fixtures and plenty of contemporary art on the walls. There’s a large sushi bar, which is where you sidle up for omakase, as well as several tables appropriate for group dinners. The restaurant always feels lively, in large part because of a loyal following of local regulars.

What to order: Anything from the daily menu, a selection of prepared dishes and sushi highlighted for freshness. There are silky sashimi carpaccios and a succulent cooked lobster tail, as well as a few satisfying rolls — the spicy yellowtail deluxe is particularly good, draped with tuna, jalapeño and onion on top. But purists need not be alarmed — Okumura’s main trade is in straight nigiri sushi, good fish on good rice with minimal enhancements.

Most nigiri are simply brushed with a dab of soy sauce, but Okumura is also serving kuro dai (black snapper) with truffle salt, and kawahagi (triggerfish) topped with a luxurious quivering mound of its own liver. You can’t go wrong, but if you’re feeling indecisive, just say the magic word: omakase!


What you’re drinking: Beer, wine or sake — as long as you don’t need hard liquor with your sushi, you should be covered. The list is unfussy and thoughtful, and if you don’t see anything you like, the corkage fee is $10.

Appropriate for: A date or a casual family dinner. Okumura is a versatile place, where you can splash down for uni and live sweet shrimp while your kid has teriyaki and spicy tuna. The price point is friendly — not cheap, and it’s well worth the trip to the San Fernando Valley if you don’t happen to live nearby.

Info: Okumura, 17302 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 986-9712,




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