Sort by

Showing Places
Illustration of hand rolls and ingredients, and human and animal characters interacting with them.
Nearly a decade after the opening of KazuNori, hand roll bars are embedded in the culinary fabric of L.A.
(Illustration by ZUCK / For The Times)

Grab quick, affordable sushi at 11 of the best hand roll bars in L.A.

The Los Angeles hand roll is delicious, populist sushi. Fresher than supermarket sushi without the commitment of omakase, the hand roll is the perfect fish-and-rice fix. Sudden craving for hamachi? Want a light, sit-down sushi lunch? A quick weeknight temaki dinner? The hand roll bar is the answer, and there are ever more of them — they seem to be multiplying by the week.

The hand roll bar as we know it is the brainchild of one of the city’s most legendary sushi chefs and an entrepreneurial partner who so precisely dialed in a sushi-for-the-people format that it completely changed the way L.A. eats raw fish with vinegared rice. A simple cylinder of crispy seaweed is wrapped around warm sushi rice and seafood, popularized by the blue crab temaki that famously punctuated Kazunori Nozawa‘s omakase at his erstwhile Ventura Boulevard spot Sushi Nozawa.

Text: L.A. Dreams of Sushi

This is your guide to what the best sushi city in America has to offer, from the ultimate California roll to spectacular omakase.

KazuNori, when it opened in 2014, translated an intimate sushi experience into a quick-service concept with $15 to $30 set menus that has since reverberated throughout the city (and the country). The U-shaped counter was inspired by the Apple Pan’s, according to Nozawa, and allows maximum chef-to-customer interface. Because that’s the point of the hand roll: A sushi chef should hand it to you immediately after it is made — it also should be eaten right away — so that the rice is at the proper temperature and the nori remains crackly-crispy.

Morihiro resturant in Atwater Village, California.

From 20-course omakase tasting menus to snug sushi bars, here’s where to find the best and freshest sushi in Los Angeles.

Nearly a decade after KazuNori’s opening, hand roll bars are embedded in the culinary fabric of L.A. Many hew to the same restaurant layout and set-menu format — though they might shape their temaki as cones or cylinders or simply fold them in half, like home-style hand rolls — and offer both classic and creative fillings for all your sushi cravings. Here are 11 hand roll standouts, from Studio City to Fountain Valley. — Betty Hallock

Sushi ingredients For DIY Hand Roll Party with Jeni Afuso

It’s a hand roll party: This is an easy guide to making temaki sushi at home. Pile on the avocado, carrots, cucumbers, radish sprouts, spicy mayo and/or raw or tinned fish. Don’t forget the salsa macha.

Showing Places
A trio of seaweed-wrapped hand rolls on a wavy black ceramic plate with a dollop of wasabi.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Highland Park Japanese $$
Featuring an intimate, candlelit sushi bar indoors and one of the best patios in Highland Park — with ample space and rows of wooden picnic benches lining the alleyway — Ichijiku offers a bit of ambience to complement its hand rolls, nigiri, sashimi and sake. The neighborhood sushi spot from the team behind adjacent Cafe Birdie serves hand rolls that come filled with the classics, such as negitoro topped with ribbons of green onion, the tuna practically dissolving on the tongue, but the house-recipe rolls are where it shines. Ichijiku coats yellowtail in a creamy, spicy habanero aioli with green onions; thick pieces of salmon in a savory, textured sesame paste; and umami-rich baked lobster in miso and garlic, all wrapped in soy paper dotted with black and white sesame seeds. The restaurant also offers vegan temaki options, such as the excellent shiitake mushroom hand roll with warmed rice nestled against soft, chilled mushroom for a contrast of temperatures and a flavor profile that’s brightened by shiso and given a creamy edge from a slick of tofu cream cheese. At lunch from Friday to Sunday, stop by for value-minded hand roll sets complete with edamame, miso soup and a chef’s-pick side dish.
More Info
A hand holding chopsticks reaches for a selection of '"grab hand rolls" resembling nigiri, a nori sheet held in the other.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Iki Ramen

Koreatown Japanese Sushi $$
As the name suggests, Iki specializes in ramen — but that doesn’t preclude it from making some of the funnest hand rolls in L.A. Now with locations in Koreatown and Hollywood, Iki Ramen serves what the restaurant refers to as “grab hand rolls,” a sort of DIY set that falls somewhere between nigiri and taco-shaped temaki. Available a la carte or as eight-piece samplers, Iki Ramen’s take on the hand roll lays sushi classics such as spicy tuna, toro or seared toro across small hand-formed mounds of rice, but it also offers more premium options such as truffled salmon, uni-topped scallop or lightly torched A5 Wagyu. Crisp sheets of rectangular nori arrive with them for grabbing and wrapping the nigiri-like bites, ensuring that the nori stays crisp until you build your hand roll at the table. Should you prefer more traditional temaki, any grab hand roll can be ordered as regular, cylindrical hand rolls upon request — but it’s a lot more hands-on, so to speak, to go for the “grab.”
More Info
A hand roll at KazuNori, with rice and fish visible inside the seaweed wrapper
(Betty Hallock / Los Angeles Times)

KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar

Studio City Sushi $$
The brains behind KazuNori didn’t miss the opportunity to put “original hand roll bar” in the name. They have staked their claim. The first KazuNori — an offshoot of Sugarfish, itself an offshoot of Sushi Nozawa — is now nearly a decade old, and the standard-bearer of a sushi formula for success. And its menu format of hand roll sets is now classic, ending with either a lobster roll or the crab hand roll that Nozawa says he originated as the finale to his omakase. The quality of the fish is always high, and the selection has expanded over the years. Recently, specials included ankimo (monkfish liver) and New Zealand sea bream. The nori is consistently crackly, and the rice is always served at just above body temperature. In 2019, the company even registered National Hand Roll Day — July 6, the date of Nozawa’s birthday.
More Info
The salmon skin hand roll is served in a wooden stand to hold it together
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Omakase by Osen

Silver Lake Japanese $$
This Silver Lake restaurant serves more than two dozen varieties of hand rolls, with a full section of the menu devoted to vegan, baked, classic and premium temaki. Rolls are served with the fillings exposed, nestled into wooden cradles. This ensures the seaweed stays crisp as the roll makes its way to your table. While the premium section beckons with fillings like toro and uni crowned with a heap of caviar or ikura with caviar, I’m partial to the $8 salmon skin roll with strips of gobo, cucumber and strands of peppery kaiware. The bits of fried skin add crunch and another level of richness to each bite, like a pile of salmon chicharrones. Regardless of the filling, you can count on a modest amount of perfectly seasoned warm rice in a sleeve of toasted seaweed.
More Info
Five hand rolls on a tray with edamame and sliced pickled ginger
(Lucas Kwan Peterson / Los Angeles Times)

Rice & Nori

Downtown L.A. Japanese $$
Rice & Nori is an onigiri and hand roll specialist, a pretty delightful concept, with locations in South Pasadena and Little Tokyo. The hand roll selection doesn’t quite approach that of the onigiri, but there are enough options to satisfy those in search of a snack or quick meal. The hand roll set is the way to go here: $27 gets you five rolls, edamame and a small plate of sashimi.

The regular roll selection includes the usual suspects — spicy tuna, yellowtail, salmon — and the premium roll category (you get two of those in your set) includes blue crab and baked lobster shrimp. I would have liked slightly crisper nori on my rolls, but I left satisfied overall, particularly with the bay scallop and negi toro.
More Info
The uni and toro and uni hand rolls are placed atop pieces of warm seaweed in wooden holders.
(Cindy Carcamo / Los Angeles Times)

ROL Hand Roll Bar by Kei Concepts

Fountain Valley Japanese Sushi $$
There are no tables here. The only seating at ROL Hand Roll Bar’s Fountain Valley location is at the U-shaped bar, where you can watch the chefs at work and they can easily hand off still-warm temaki loosely cradled in crispy nori. Tucked in a strip mall, its menu features five- to seven-piece hand roll sets with fillings like salmon, yellowtail and unagi, as well as a la carte rolls, donburi and appetizers like chile garlic edamame and furikake fries. One of my favorite things about this place is the different dipping sauces — particularly the yuzu kosho sauce — which pairs nicely with most of the rolls. But the premium rolls don’t need it, particularly the lobster with truffle and uni, which was my favorite. There is another location in Huntington Beach. Parking is easier here.
More Info
A rectangular white plate with four seaweed-wrapped hand rolls
(Lucas Kwan Peterson / Los Angeles Times)

Roll Call

Koreatown Sushi $$
I wouldn’t normally think to recommend a place with menu options like the “Cheating Boyfriend Roll” but: If you happen to be in Koreatown and are struck with a hand roll craving, you could do a lot worse than Roll Call. I was able to take advantage of a happy hour deal on a recent visit, snagging a few hand rolls in the $5 to $7 range (they’re available other times too, just a little more expensive). The simple, well constructed avocado roll, with cucumber, avocado and sesame seeds, is a solid vegetarian option. Otherwise I’d go for the blue crab California roll, which is exactly the same but with a generous portion of crab.
More Info
A hand roll bursting with negitoro, ikura, shiso and uni on a gold-rimmed black plate
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Seaweed Hand Roll Bar

Glendale Japanese Sushi $$$
The hand rolls here are sauced and herbed to the chefs’ idea of perfection, so the team at this Glendale spot recommends taking a bite before dunking the rolls in soy sauce or adding other flavors to the mix. They’re right. Seaweed Hand Roll Bar serves nigiri, sashimi, robata bites and an omakase, but the signature items — cone-shaped hand rolls in some of the crispiest nori in L.A. — are beautifully seasoned, each variety of fish mixed or topped with additions such as yuzu kosho, kaiware, tempura flakes, shiso and gobo. This isn’t straightforward temaki; each hand roll is bursting with flavor, thanks to recipes that range from clean and simple to outright decadent.

Executive chef Jesse Herek will steer you toward the yellowtail, bright and herbaceous, the chopped amberjack coated in yuzu sauce with razor-thin sliced green onions. The king crab hand roll features not only black truffle but white-truffle butter for a warm and indulgent option, while the signature seaweed hand roll, just as showy, tops negitoro with uni and a small mountain of ikura. Take a seat at the Glendale restaurant’s large, U-shaped counter and order a selection of hand roll hits, or look for the more takeout-friendly outpost in Canoga Park’s new Topanga Social food hall.
More Info
A single hand roll, stuffed with shredded lobster, sitting on an oval wood plate
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Sogo Roll Bar

East Hollywood Sushi $$
A joint venture from multiple L.A. restaurant veterans, Sogo Roll Bar brings the craft of Kiminobu Saito’s decades-long career in sushi to East Hollywood in a more casual format than you’ll find in his Sherman Oaks restaurant, Sushi Note. The hand roll bar from Saito and restaurateurs Dustin Lancaster and Sarah Dietz (both of Bar Covell) serves donburi and the likes of unagi crispy rice and sashimi, but the focus here is distinctly temaki, each cylindrical roll fastened by an additional flap of seaweed on one end so as not to spill as you eat. An ample scoop of filling is spooned in at the other end to ensure it’s fully packed with bright and tart lemony lobster, yellowtail that’s delectably deep with flavor from ponzu, or citrusy, yuzu-tinged salmon. Of the 10 available rolls, the most flavorful is the albacore kari kari, with thick wedges of tuna marinated in brandy, garlic and gingery ponzu, each bite lightly crispy from flecks of fried onion. Sogo offers outdoor seating, but the prime spot is along the counter with a view of the rolls being formed, the pink-and-white crane mural and the vintage photo of a very young Saito — taken when the sushi chef arrived in L.A. in 1980 — that hangs behind the bar.
More Info
A photo of two hand rolls, lean tuna and fatty tuna, on the counter atop brown paper featuring a line drawing of a fish
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Culver City Sushi Japanese $$
Almost every hand roll at Uoichiba is filled with dry-aged fish, flipping the expectation of what’s “fresh” on its head. At the new temaki bar from the Joint Seafood’s Liwei Liao, the steelhead, tuna, kanpachi and more come from Liao’s Sherman Oaks seafood market, where the specialty is meticulously aged seafood that hangs in temperature- and moisture-controlled fridges until it reaches a buttery, wholly unique texture and pure flavor. At Liao’s 10-seat counter within Citizen Public Market food hall, the dry-aged seafood fills crisp, warm nori in three- to six-roll tasting sets alongside a la carte items such as a transcendent miso fumet made from the bones of the dry-aged fish. Non-aged temaki, such as ginger-marinated prawns, also are worth a taste, as are the daily specials, such as lump crab with shiso and crunchy rice crackers, which perfectly balance flavor and texture. Almost exclusively serving fish that’s been aged for days — and sometimes weeks — Uoichiba is one of the most distinctive temaki options in L.A., or even the country.
More Info
A white building with the word Yunomi over the door, with glass storefront
(Betty Hallock / Los Angeles Times)

Yunomi Handroll

Downtown L.A. Japanese Sushi $$
Yunomi Handroll is the Arts District’s answer to the original KazuNori in downtown’s Historic Core. Opened nearly two years ago by a Katsuya alum, Yunomi has all of the elements that now make a classic hand roll venue. There’s the horseshoe-shaped counter, high stools, efficient staff and a succinct menu of appetizers (sometimes involving crispy rice) and hand rolls both a la carte and in sets. Yunomi also has an oontz-oontz-y soundtrack and sleek, gray decor. The occasional appearance of truffle-laced soy sauce harks back to peak Katsuya. And the hand rolls? They’re substantial cylinders with satisfyingly standard fillings: yellowtail, albacore, tuna, salmon and more. Specialty rolls include the namesake Yunomi: spicy albacore, shrimp tempura, crunchy onions, that truffle soy. Sway simpler. Note: Soy wrappers are an option with any hand roll. To-go hand roll kits are available. Much appreciated are the loose-leaf Japanese teas served in tetsubin.
More Info