Two West LA Japanese restaurants earn stars 

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By Keldine Hull

The inaugural Michelin Guide California is officially out, blessing California residents with the first ever statewide ranking from the prestigious guide. 657 restaurants received recommendations, 90 of which were ranked with Michelin stars. Since the early 20th century, the Michelin guide has evolved into one of the most trusted sources for travelers and foodies both near and afar. Over time, the revered guide grew to reflect different trends in dining but continued to rely on the five criteria used by inspectors for its consistent rankings.

Chef Shunji Nakao (left) of Shunji Japanese Cuisine at the Michelin award reception. Photos: Facebook.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for California foodies. According to Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, “Michelin is honored to reveal the 2019- star selection and to celebrate the talented California chefs and their teams included in the first statewide Guide in the U.S.” Poullennec added, “California’s trendsetting, laid-back and health-conscious culinary scene continues to boom, and as a result is an amazing showcase for the great local produce.”

For the first time in nearly a decade, the City of Angels has made its grand return to the guide with 24 Michelin ranked restaurants. While no Brentwood restaurant earned a star, Pizzana located on San Vicente earned a prestigious recommendation. 

Pizzana

“Every pizza at this area darling begins with a nod to Neapolitan tradition: start with the perfect dough and bake it into a crust that remains crisp and light right through the middle. This careful process and that almighty oven shipped from Italy can be observed with longing through the glass-walled kitchen,” reads the review by the French tire company. 

In addition, two nearby restaurants earned Michelin stars: Mori Sushi located on 11500 West Pico Boulevard and Shunji Japanese Cuisine located on 12244 West Pico Boulevard. 

Mori Sushi, which was awarded a one-star rating from Michelin, is a sushi connoisseur’s dream. From the soy sauce to the tofu, everything is made in- house and nearly all the fish served is natural wild caught. Considered one of the best in authentic Japanese cuisine, Mori Sushi made it’s Michelin debut in 2008 followed by a second appearance in 2009. Prices for sushi only omakase begin at $100 while entrée style plates begin at $180. It’s a hefty price tag but worth it for the die-hard foodie.  

Mori Sushi.

In 2012, after a visit to Shunji Japanese Cuisine, the late Jonathan Gold wrote, “So the last thing I was expecting on my first visit to Shunji Japanese Cuisine, the Westside restaurant that is the newest darling of local raw-fish cognoscenti, was a bowl of vegetables, served at the sushi bar, at the point in the meal where you might be expecting an elaborate sea urchin presentation or a saucer of tuna nuta.” Known for its authentic Japanese cuisine and sushi, Shunji Japanese Cuisine was awarded a one-star Michelin rating for its unique blend of ingredients. Anyone lucky enough to dine there will tell you that Shunji Japanese Cuisine is no ordinary sushi bar.   

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