Why Urasawa Is Not One of L.A.’s 75 Best Restaurants

In defense of leaving the second most expensive restaurant in the country off the list

It’s not just the price that kept Urasawa off the May issue’s list of the “75 Best Restaurants in L.A.” Even as a splurge, a price tag of $395 before tax, tip and anything to drink is enough to serve as a barrier to most. It also creates a sort of distance from the city that even the finest grade tuna belly flown in from Tokyo’s Tsujiki market can’t quite bridge.

We live in a far more direct age, where excellence can be captured in as little as a slice of hearth-baked naturally leavened bread and the best restaurants contribute to a larger conversation about food today. Though chef Hiro Urasawa is a masterful chef, a meal here on the second floor of Two Rodeo Drive can seem more cultural performance than evening out. The robes are ceremonial, the tones hushed. We dutifully obey the commands on soy—only when instructed—and photography—never—but, however excellent the courses, it all feels divorced from the real L.A.

That sense of apartness worked well when chef Masa Takayama—who now wields his knives on the fourth floor of New York’s Time-Warner Center—opened the original Ginza Sushi-ko in this spot in the mid-80s. But today’s chefs practice their artistry in a far more public way.

A prohibitively expensive Japanese restaurant inside a real estate development feels, well, kind of passé. You don’t need to deplete your savings to watch Nancy Silverton work the mozzarella bar at Mozza. Nab a seat and count yourself lucky to enjoy an experience only Los Angeles can provide.

To see the full list of the 75 best restaurants in L.A., pick up a copy of our May issue (on newsstands) or subscribe now!