The word “chirashi” in Japanese means scattered. Order a chirashi bowl at your local Japanese restaurant and you’ll be handed a bowl of seasoned rice topped with scattered slices of raw fish, fish roe, and/or the occasional tamagoyaki, a spongy egg garnish. It’s the ideal option for sushi fiends who don’t want to order a la carte or dish out the big bucks for a sashimi platter.
The mark of a good chirashi bowl is balance. Each grain should be evenly seasoned with the tangy, alkaline sweetness of rice vinegar. Sesame seeds are often sprinkled on top for good measure. Different types of fresh fish are layered on top – bonus points for textural diversity. Garnishes are optional additions and always provide welcome respite.
Read on for ten of our favorite chirashi bowls in Los Angeles.
Located in a strip mall off Ventura Blvd., Dai Chan is a champion of Japanese soul food. Gone are the bland, monochrome walls typical of sushi joints. Dai Chan screams eclectic – a characteristic that shines through in both their wall decor and food. There’s not a spot on the wall that’s bare and dishes are drenched in color. The daimyou chirashi ($19) is a party on a plate. There’s a mound of sesame sushi rice, covered by a fan of tuna, salmon, snapper, yellowtail, squid, scallop, albacore, mackerel, unagi, and salmon roe. Shredded egg, green onion and seaweed are sprinkled on top.
Maruhide Uni Club
If there was a prize for most unique sushi bowl in Los Angeles, first place would go to Maruhide Uni Club, an uni specialist in an industrial-looking strip mall in Torrance. Sea urchins are caught off the coast of California, and their gonads are hand-plucked and served fresh. It sounds gross but the dish is creamy and a delicacy for a reason. The Nigiyaka Bowl is a beautiful bouquet of raw fish and sea urchin done four ways. There’s fresh uni, marinated uni, boiled uni and uni embedded in an egg omelet roll. Accompanying fish include squid, tuna, salmon and roe, but if you haven’t figured it out already – the sea urchin is the main attraction. Even the complimentary soup comes with uni.
Pisces Sushi is a true gem in Manhattan Beach, owned by Yoshi and Sarah, a soft-spoken, sweet Japanese couple. Admittedly, the store is not much of a looker. There’s only one table and some counter space inside – the bulk of their orders are take-out. But if you’re one of the lucky ones to snag a seat, you’ll be treated to one of the most delicate chirashis ($13.95) in the Southland. One of the few versions where the rice isn’t just an after-thought, it’s expertly seasoned, slightly tangy and perfectly portioned. The cuts are thin, arranged in a fan-like assortment and topped with roe and scallop drizzled with aioli.