Restaurant Review #7: Noma, Santa Monica

Noma is a friendly neighborhood sushi place without any Los Angeles pretentiousness. It is clearly popular without being crowded. The sushi menu is pretty basic, and they have quite a few hot dishes for your non-sushi eating friends. No omakase is explicitly offered, and I have not tried requesting one in an attempt to consume something more innovative, but it's probably worth a shot. I am perfectly content to dine here when I just want a lot of basic and almost consistently very good sushi rolls, nigiri, tempura, and miso soup.

The marinated albacore salad is a daily special appetizer that I highly recommend. The combination of flavors in the fresh fish and the ponzu sauce is mouth-watering and addictive. Fortunately, this is a generously sized dish (8 pieces and lots of grated daikon) so you will almost be satisfied (I always crave more). Unlike many albacore salads, it doesn't have any lettuce. I also always enjoy their yellowtail nigiri.

The prices are reasonable and generally a great value considering the high quality of the fish. It should be noted that when I ordered a mixed sashimi plate (which is less expensive than ordering individual pieces of sashimi) the fish was of a notably lesser quality. This is a tragic flaw in an otherwise cherished restaurant. Another drawback is that service is sometimes quite slow if you sit at a table. For fast service, sit at the sushi bar.

On cold nights, green tea is complimentary, refilled often, and much appreciated.

I tried to have a party here but they said they couldn't handle a party of 10 on a Saturday night. The restaurant is big enough for this (maybe we could have had to sit at 2 tables though) so I'm not sure what the problem was. The person I spoke to didn't speak English well, so it was hard to clarify the situation. Maybe they just didn't want to deal with a group that large. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and had to take my party to the much more accommodating but rather pretentious Sushi Roku.

With reasonable prices and a comfortable atmosphere, Noma doesn't have to have the best sushi in town to be an enjoyable meal.

Noma Restaurant
2031 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, California 90403
Noma on Urbanspoon

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