Living on Sushi Row in Los Angeles, I’ve got access to such an abundance of sushi restaurants that I actually find myself not enjoying it as often as I can. When I discovered Eggplant, I can immediately tell just by the outside appearance that something was different. It’s nestled next to a guitar and drum store, (very cool) with only three parking spaces in its driveway, in a little cobblestone Asian building that looks like a relic right out of Japan, though it’s sitting in Ventura Boulevard. Refreshingly also, it is not in a 1970s strip mall. I’ve uploaded to pictures of their extensive specials menu. Note this is not the actual folding menu that has 100 other items, nor is it the disposable piece of paper to write down your regular sushi order. All of these are their special creations! There are so many new fun and unusual things to try here that I almost don’t know where to start, but don’t worry, I know just the thing:
Eggplant’s specialty, is the use of lots of vegetables, particularly Japanese eggplant and pumpkin. They probably serve eggplant for five different ways. One of my favorite things to get there however is the honey pumpkin dish. It’s sliced sautéed pumpkin in the rich sweet honey sauce and goes perfectly with any other Japanese accompaniment. They also have a light pumpkin dish with ponzu sauce, a pumpkin vegetarian role, a warm pumpkin dish with her housemates sesame sauce, and even pumpkin miso soup. All of these are a fantastic addition to what normally consists of standard sushi fare: raw seafood, seaweed and rice.
Spicy tuna on top of crispy rice has long been a Los Angeles staple in restaurants like Katsu-ya for many years. Eggplant does their own take on this dish by doing a sweet salmon on top of the crispy rice. This is also in my favorites. Something else I can’t stop ordering as well is there fresh salmon sushi, and most of the time it is some of the freshest I’ve ever had. In addition to taste, I also look for how buttery the fish can be, and if it’s melting in my mouth I know I’m in the right place.
What I love about Eggplant is that they do multiple versions of similar dishes, so you can get Shishito peppers just grilled or you can get them such a delicious sauce. a few types of spinach, several types of eggplant and pumpkin- you really can hone your palette here.
Eggplant specializes in hand rolls too and most of them are offered with soy paper. Some are very simple such as blue crab and avocado and some get even more complex. Literally there is something for anyone in this little restaurant. The waitresses are always sweet and of course are Japanese and don’t speak much English. The decor is simple, and the table and chairs are austere. The owners are timelessly in love with The Beatles and so almost every time I sit in there, without fail there is some transcendental Beatles track playing that really makes the vibe interesting. However, this is a fantastic little date spot, business spot, place to just grab a bite to eat by yourself and not feel encroached upon, and even a place for the whole family. There is zero pretense unlike a few others I’ve been to where people seem to feel self important simply because they are in that establishment.
Eggplant is nearly walking distance from my house so I have frequented it a lot, and I can easily say that I’ve never had a bad meal. A nice little touch is the complimentary little dish of cucumber with their house made sesame sauce right when you sit down. In the highly competitive sushi market of Los Angeles, Eggplant in my book earns five stars for food, variety, taste, quality, creativity, and all-around good vibes.
Eggplant is located at
11266 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604-3135