Nozawa opened the first SUGARFISH restaurant in 2008 and by 2015 had nine locations. However, this imposing sushi empire left a niche unfilled—an affordable and fast-turnaround concept for serving sushi. Instead of a formal restaurant, Nozawa envisioned a cozy sushi bar that would cater to the business lunch crowd and sushi-loving millennials at the dinner hour. He opened KazuNori in downtown Los Angeles in 2014 with a simple, set menu of three, four, or five warm-rice hand rolls.
KazuNori’s sleek space is just big enough for the u-shaped sushi bar. Patrons enter the spartan mini-restaurant, fill out a menu, and wait for a table. Once a spot opens up, the sushi chef opens the order and upon presenting the first roll, suggests it be eaten post-haste. Warm rice reduces the crispy nori to soggy chewiness if left too long, so it is wise to obey.
Among the menu offerings are a daily hand roll, which alternates between toro and yellowtail, salmon, bay scallop or cucumber, lobster, and the requisite blue crab hand roll that Nozawa made famous. There is also a patio/to-go menu that features cut rolls and sashimi. So that each hand roll is fresh and crispy, the chefs present only one at a time. No lingering is allowed at the sushi bar. Upon finishing the meal, customers settle the bill, which already includes a 16% gratuity, at the cash register as they exit.