Situated in the heart of Reseda Boulevard’s restaurant row – roughly between Plummer and Nordhoff streets – King’s Burger and Sushi is not your average sushi experience. It’s not often that options for sides include double cheeseburgers and hot pastrami wraps. But if you can get over the momentarily disorienting identity crisis at the counter, prepare for one of the most satisfying and imaginative meals available in the Valley, courtesy of former Katana chef Jun Y. Cha.
Hamachi topped by razor-thin slices of jalapeno, resting in ponzu sauce came first, delicate and precise. Spicy tuna over crispy rice, finished with avocado and a few sesame seeds, is a recommended specialty for good reason, with the rice practically caramelized under its creamy, perfectly-seasoned topping. A ring of seared ahi surrounding a mountain of spinach and wild mushrooms topped by a creamy sesame sauce and a touch of eel sauce and chili oil is earthy yet remarkably clean, the flavors compartmentalized on different spots of the tongue at first bite, leading up to an unforgettable finish that might not be perceived until a few seconds after swallowing. White fish topped with uni was appropriately creamy and unctuous; one colleague once described sea urchin when prepared properly as “sex with a fish”, and I think he would have been well pleased with this version.
The best and most specialized dishes aren’t cheap – be aware that the casual surroundings and irresistible descriptions on the menu may lead to a flurry of pricey impulse ordering. Tempura is sold by the piece so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with too much of your least favorite vegetable, but it can get pricey when so many things look so good.
If you’re not in a splurging mood, they offer satisfying Bento boxes in the $10-14 range. I’ve had the yellowtail collar and it is superb, all for a couple bucks more than anything at the Chili’s on the corner.
And if you sit at a table instead of the bar, there’s also burgers, fries, cheese steaks and what I’m told are the best breakfast burritos in town, although this author has yet to sample those. I last got burgers from there years ago, before the sushi counter had opened yet, and I do remember that they were first-rate. It’s easy to imagine that, in the presence of a chef like this one, even the burger cooks step their game up, so I intend to go back to find out when I’m in a burger mood. But first, I’m going to have to pass by the sushi bar without getting sucked into the vortex of that crispy rice concoction…wish me luck.
All photos by Elise Thompson