Playa del Rey’s Sushi Beluga is the sushi joint locals have been craving

By Kellie Chudzinski

Sushi Beluga, 207 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey (424) 228-4573

Whether you choose to go for albacore on rice or a classic California roll, Sushi Beluga’s colorful platters will please the eye and your taste buds

Playa del Rey has long been known for its surf and sleepy beach town vibe, but a sushi spot has eluded the area in recent memory — until now. Filling that void is Sushi Beluga, run by restaurateur Cun Sang Chi (who diners may spot behind the counter in a white chef’s coat). After receiving a $50,000 microloan from East Los Angeles’ BusinessSource Center along with extensive business consulting, strategic planning and one-on-one assistance, Chi quietly soft-opened Sushi Beluga in December in Culver Boulevard’s Matilla Village Center.

Tucked between breakfast spot Cafe Milan and the local post office, Beluga takes over a front that had been a sandwich shop and an Armenian restaurant in recent years. Its dining area fits only seven tables, with three patio tables next to a lush succulent planter on the communal walkway.

What the restaurant lacks in dining space, however, is made up for exponentially in delectable sushi. While a liquor license and some kitchen equipment are still on the way, Sushi Beluga offers a vast selection of fresh fish and unique rolls full of rich flavor (even before they’re dunked or dipped in sauce or wasabi).

For those who eat with their eyes, the presentation of sushi is sure to be filling. Ricey California rolls and rosy salmon slices are served on an elegant raised wooden platter, with a single flower and a sunomono-style vegetable. The savory yellowtail and yellowtail belly are standouts, allowing the full flavor of the fish to come through; salmon and albacore bites are equally tasty.

Most rolls come in just under $6 and extend to $16 for specialty options, while nigiri ranges from $5 to $15 and sashimi slices stay around the $15 mark. Higher priced options include omakase “chef’s choice” entrees, combinations and large platters with an assortment of sushi for those looking to share or wanting a wide selection for themselves. While sushi is the main event at Sushi Beluga, the salmon collar, baked green mussels and notably flavorful miso soup are served hot during the soft-open. Current hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. but will eventually extend from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

A grand opening is expected later this month, but the future is already looking bright for Sushi Beluga and, I predict, it won’t be long before the small storefront is packed with diners whenever its doors are open.