Ootoro Sushi is an island of extreme opulence, located in a strip mall on the San Gabriel Valley's far eastern edge and surrounded by a sea of rolling suburbs.
The omakase-centric restaurant, which caters mostly to wealthy Taiwanese expats, eagerly highlights its kama-toro sushi ($24 per piece), a velvety collar section that comprises less than 1 to 3 percent of the world's highly sought-after--and highly depleted--bluefin tuna.
To put that into context, the only other restaurant serving real kama-toro in Los Angeles is the $375-a-seat Urasawa, which might hint at Ootoro's high-end ambitions.
A sampling of both the "A level" ($95) and "A+ level" ($150) multicourse meals yielded decadent items such as a trio of fresh Kumamoto oysters topped with caviar and tart yuzu sorbet, cloud-like mounds of uni sprinkled with diced mango, glowing slivers of rock-salt-dusted hirama (yellowtail) flown in from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, and blowtorch-seared Japanese Wagyu beef drizzled with delicate pepper sauce.
Although Ootoro's existence seems predicated on luxury (and overspending), the quality of the seafood and its commensurate pricing is a relative bargain compared to other Southland sushi temples.
Until your "Jiro trip" savings account yields a trip to Tokyo, the unorthodox Ootoro provides a tantalizing glimpse of sushi's highest tier.