Tuesday, August 9, 2011



Location: 8730 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California, USA

Founded: 1997

Closed: November 2005

Somehow, I suspect this will be the first (and last) time I will be doing a posting on a "lesbian" sushi place!

I first stumbled onto the nearly "iconic" Murakami at girlports:

In L.A., Murakami had long been referred to as “lesbian sushi” seeing as you could always count on finding a healthy dose of gay gals in the house.  Murakami reached iconic status when Bette and Alice mentioned the restaurant as the home of lesbian sushi in the L Word episode where Alice takes Phyllis out.  Unfortunately, the restaurant closed at pretty much the same time as when the episode aired....

Girlports notes that another sushi restaurant called Ari Ya is at now at this location, though it's not really as "gay gal" as Murakami: "The lesbians still visit, but not quite as much as they used to….though rumour has it that k.d. lang is a fan."

So let's go to the source. Here's what Guinevere Turner said about Murakami at the L Word Online back in December 2004. She included it as one of the "essentials" of the LA "lipstick lesbian" scene:

While it's not officially a lesbian place, Murakami (8730 Santa Monica Blvd., 310-854-6212) is so chock-full of lesbians all the time I've taken to calling it "Lesbian Sushi." The environment is cute and casual, the food is delicious, and the outdoor patio is lovely (although they don't let you smoke anymore). The only negative thing about the place is that you might run into your ex-girlfriend.

And then like all good things, Murakami came to an end, as blogger Sherman Way documented back in January 2006:

Whither "lesbian sushi"?

Driving home along Santa Monica Boulevard last night, I noticed that the neon green sign for Murakami, the famed sushi bar known around these parts as "lesbian sushi" for the loyalty of its Sapphic clientele, had a new name and a new white neon sign. In an intensive investigation (I looked up Murakami's Citysearch profile), I found this melancholy review:

As of late November, 2005, Murakami has been sold to a new chef/owner. A recent visit demonstrated that all is not well at our favorite Japanese sushi shop. The old Murakami ambience is completely gone. The entire wait staff is new, and very shaky. The service has now slowed down by a factor of two. It may be my imagination, but the fish itself--possibly the single aspect the chef/owner is most responsible for, on his daily buying trips--is of lower quality. The lovely flower arrangements the previous owner's wife did are gone--replaced by a cold, barren wall.

At a minimum, I would wait until things settle down before trying Murakami again, but I also think there's a reasonable chance that it will turn into just another random sushi place, hardly worth the trip.

Overall user rating: Below Average
It's a shame that "lesbian sushi" had to go out like that, but even more of a shame that I won't be able to say that I'm going to "lesbian sushi" anymore. Best of luck to the previous owner, and may "lesbian sushi" rise again.

Subsequent digging has shown that Murakami reopened at 17 North Wilcox Avenue to great reviews. They have a website, but if the lipstick lesbians of LA trailed after them to the the new location, the owners are keeping mum about it.

Photo: Exterior of Murakami

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