Omakase in Point

Sawtelle's ramen-ya, Tsujita, takes on sushi

Tsujita. The name already synonymous with the city's favorite ramen has taken on another genre: sushi. And the folks behind the cult Japanese import have opened in familiar territory—Sawtelle, a few feet up from the perpetually crowded noodle spot.

But upon entering this new address, it's a completely different scene. There's no queuing up for a table that's turned after a quick slurping of noodles. Instead, there's a gentle stirring, a stylized setting of mosaic bamboo geometrics and a rococo Louis XIV-esque chandelier. It's civilized. (Even the automated heated toilet indicates so.)

Sit at one of the ten seats at the sushi counter and watch as your omakase dinner ($120, $150 or $180) unfolds. The most luxurious (read: expensive) option includes Wagyu beef, while the other chefs' menus bring a series of appetizers, cooked plates, sushi, sashimi and dessert.

When we ate there, the first dish was a sampler of the sea—small bites of shrimp stuffed with mentaiko, a skewer of sliced abalone and oysters, squid folded into a yuzu rind, cubed persimmon with tofu paste, sweet soy-marinated fish and puffed rice, flash-fried and served as a twig draped over the plate.

Next up, soup. A kettle arrives to the table, which is then dismantled and split into two courses: a delicate broth accented with a squeeze of sudachi lime (served on the side) and its contents (shrimp, unagi, chicken, gingko, mitsuba and maitake mushrooms). Another highlight of the night: a duo of bites from an uni and ikura-topped rice bowl, and a seared scallop over rice topped with a sliver of black truffle.

And of course, there was sushi: The rice shined bright with its perfected texture and density. Slightly warm and creamy rounds were the perfect foil to pieces of Spanish mackerel dotted with grated ginger, seasonal pike mackerel from Hokkaido, buttery amaebi—its head either deep-fried or simmered in miso soup that soon followed—and our favorite of the night: goldeneye snapper torched to a buttery finish.

Although a swank sushi restaurant may seem unlikely in a strip mall on Sawtelle, it's only a matter on time until the rest of the West L.A. strip grows up. In the meantime, there's a meal-deal lunch that anyone can get behind—a chirashi and chawanmushi combo for $25.