Last weekend Ry and I went out on a double date with one of his groomsmen and his girlfriend. When we asked where they wanted to eat, they immediately responded with “Anywhere that has sushi!” I haven’t had sushi since moving to LA in June and so I was on a mission to find a good sushi restaurant that wasn’t overpriced and had safe gluten free options. I loved Shojin in Culver city (see my review here), but it was out of the way and very expensive.
Luckily, I stumbled upon Kazu Nori in Westwood, right off of UCLA‘s campus. Kazu Nori, found in 3 locations in LA (I visited 1110 Gayley Ave. location) is a hand roll bar. This means that all of the sushi is rolled right in front of you.
So how does this work? You sit around a large bar-like area surrounding the chefs and can watch them roll your rolls. I called a few days before to inquire about their gluten free options and was informed that all of their sushi rolls were gluten free. YAY! I could have whatever I wanted and not worry about cross contamination, which is always a concern at sushi restaurants. Their crab meat was REAL and did not contain wheat (celiac tip: many places use imitation crab which has wheat!). No rolls contained soy sauce–each couple of seats had soy sauce bottles available, but the preparation area was soy sauce free.
As an important celiac reminder, keep in mind that this was the Westwood location & the menu may change over time and by location so always do your due diligence and confirm before going–this goes for ANY restaurant.
While waiting to be seated, we filled out the menu card to indicate which rolls we wanted and how many. The menu is small, but had a variety of options. I settled on 2 vegetarian cucumber rolls, one shrimp roll, and one crab roll–I will not eat raw sushi so I specifically chose the cooked or vegetarian rolls. Upon being seated, we handed over our card to the staff and the chefs began to prepare the rolls in front of us. Each roll was given to us individually. Once one roll was eaten, the next was prepared. We could add to our order at any time.
I LOVED the vegetable roll (see photo)! The shrimp roll was good. I hated the crab roll–It was shredded crab, which I am not a fan of at all so I gave it to Ryan. Everyone else ordered raw sushi–Ryan’s favorite was the salmon. Everyone was very happy with the quality of the meal. The staff was very friendly and service was fast.
As a note, tipping is not allowed & instead a 16% service charge is added to the final bill.
I really loved my experience at Kazu Nori and would 100% go again, but there are a few groups that I would NOT recommend this restaurant for. If you have a shellfish or seafood allergy, this place would not be safe. Ingredients are kept together and preparation areas are shared. Although the chefs wear gloves, they do not change gloves between rolls. Luckily for me, there is NO gluten in the rolls so the prep areas are gluten free, BUT there is shellfish. I eat shellfish, but wanted to inform my readers in case you have a shellfish allergy. As for vegetarians, there is only one vegetarian roll (cucumber) so your options are limited and cross contact with non-vegetarian options will occur.
As a note, this restaurant is also NOT good for a large group as there are not individual tables and the restaurant doesn’t sit very many people. Even with 4 of us, we had to wait a while to be able to be seated next to each other as random single seats opened up but it took some time before a group of 4 left. Also, plan to arrive early. This place is very popular (rightfully so) so the line gets very very long and the seating is very limited. By the time we finished eating, the line was out the door and into the sidewalk.
Overall, the quality was fantastic (both for the veggie eaters and the seafood eaters) and I loved not having to worry about cross contamination. I do wish they had more vegetarian options, but the simple menu was still nice and great for celiac. I will definitely be returning.
**Please note that this review solely reflects my own honest opinion. I was neither paid nor compensated for my visit here. Also, kitchen protocols and menus can change at any time. Make sure to speak to the staff at any restaurant before eating to make sure that they can accommodate your dietary restriction.**