Murakami: Hollywood’s Surprising Sushi Gem


Inspired by Nate Silver, I wondered this week if the same principles could be used to decide whether or not a restaurant is good before going.  Some combination, perhaps, of Yelp reviews and Foursquare check ins, with bonus points for pretty Instagram photos and deductions for Groupon offerings and the number of free meals the restaurant gave out to bloggers when they first opened (because, quite frankly, if you have to give out free food to a bunch of shameless white fatsos and cute Asian girls to drum up business, how good could your restaurant possibly be?)

My buddy Brandon thought he had cracked the code a few weeks back, proclaiming that if a restaurant got 4 1/2 stars or higher on Yelp, and had over 100 reviews it was guaranteed to be good.  The model is not exactly foolproof yet (we probably need to add a few more exceptions to the algorithm) but one place the method works unaided is Murakami.  4 1/2 stars on Yelp. 280+ reviews.  And it’s hands down my new favorite cheap lunch sushi place in Hollywood.


Situated on Wilcox just north of Hollywood Blvd., this tiny chirashi bowl specialist benefits from the low expectations one would have getting sushi from a place that’s on Wilcox just north of Hollywood Blvd.  Cheap sushi is always a “you get what you pay for” proposition, but there is a spectrum in which these places operate, and my goal is always to to maximize the price to quality to quantity ratio.  Want to keep things as close to $10 as possible, you’ve got to choose between getting a lot of shitty sushi, or a tiny bit of the good stuff.  And Murakami seems to nail that perfect middle ground.


Their Chirashi bowls start at $11, and feature different combos of fish atop rice w/ a seaweed salad, nori, sliced cucumber, pickled radish, ginger and wasabi.  There’s one with salmon, crab and avocado, another with a trio of scoops of spicy fish (tuna, salmon, & yellowtail), plus one with just eel and avocado and another that is their version of zuke-don (tuna, tossed in a sweet soy sauce with green onions and ginger.)  But their most popular $11 bowl is the “mixed”, a combo of tuna, slightly seared albacore, salmon, yellowtail and a single shrimp.  Before you get too excited… it’s not the biggest bowl of all time.


But the rice is warm and nicely vinegared, and the fish is far better than any other place I’ve ever been to with a $10 or $11 lunch special.  Could I have eaten two of these?  Definitely.  But I also was oddly satisfied with this (what I would call) sensible lunch.  Maybe I’ve turned a corner?

Not ready to turn that corner with me?  They have larger bowls that go up in increments of $2, but the higher up the scale you go the more you’ll probably find yourself wishing you had gone to a fancier place where a lunchtime $17 chirashi bowl wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.


Don’t like their combos?  You can build your own bowl.  4 things for $11 (this one is spicy tuna, eel, salmon, and yellowtail).  5 for for $13. 6 for $15.  Or…


7 things for $17.  This big mama jama has got spicy yellowtail, spicy salmon, scallops, tamago, albacore, real crab (!?!), and one more thing that must be buried under there somewhere.  Sadly, you don’t get a bigger bowl as you go up the scale, they just pile more fish on top.  And it seems like the market price of the fish determines how much of it they give you.  For example, with eel you only get two small pieces.  Order the egg and you get four.

The toughest part of Murakami is just sticking to the $11 bowl.  You can’t help but think “For just $2 more I can get an extra fish?  What a deal!”  And the next thing you know, you’re spending $20+ on lunch.  But hold it together, and stick to the mixed plate (or the build your own 4 item bowl) and you end up with a super delicious, sensible, sushi lunch.  Thank you Yelp? Now if only there was an algorithm for picking what 4 items give you the most for your $11…

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • When I eat sushi, I’ll take quality of quantity any day
  • It doesn’t take a ton to fill me up, so this place is perfect
  • Build your own Chirashi bowl?!  What’s better than that?
  • I can’t believe this place is on Wilcox and Hollywood! There is nothing good to eat around there.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Fat guy needs more food!  The $11 bowl isn’t enough, and if I’m going to spend $20 I’d rather go to Sushi Gen.
  • No tempura?  How great would that be as an option?
  • I’m more of a rolls kind of person.

Murakami,1714 N Wilcox Ave. 323-467-8181

Study the full menu of options of their website


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