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Yama Sushi Marketplace, LA’s best kept Sushi Secret, celebrates 40 years June 2024

Yama Sushi Marketplace, LA’s best kept secret, celebrates 40 years

This June 2024, Yama Sushi Marketplace, a rare gem in Los Angeles will celebrate 40 years of the freshest Sashimi and Sushi Angelenos have come to crave and if possible, keep a secret.

“Please don’t tell anyone about this store” whispers one customer while another admits that “It is just not right to gatekeep this any longer!”

In June 1984, Kenzo Yamada and his wife Nobuko opened Yama Seafood on Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel.

After many years working as a fish power broker in Los Angeles, Kenzo Yamada or “Yama San” decided to open up his own shop where because of his contacts, was always assured the freshest and best cuts of fish when he visited the fish market every morning.

Today, these same fish companies provide Yama Sushi Marketplace with the freshest fish from all over the world, delivered daily.

The network of Japanese sushi specialists is quite impressive and Yama san knew them all, from Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu Restaurants), Katsuya Uechi (Katsuya Sushi) and  Kazunori Nozawa (Sugarfish and Kazunori).

No doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA

There is no doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA, especially with the guidance of Noritoshi Kanai of Mutual Foods (Japanese Food Distributor who introduced Sushi to the American palette).

Although through the years, many larger Japanese Super Markets began to grow in Los Angeles, Yama Seafood stayed true to form, giving customers personal service to choose the freshest cuts of Salmon, Yellowtail, Blue Fin Tuna as Yama San would personally slice each serving of sashimi for the customers.

Nobuko San, his wife, would run the front and cook the most delicious side dishes for customers, and customers were always given a bag of ice to keep the fish nice and cold.

One of Yama’s first employees, Enrique Moreno (“Kike San”) became Yama’s right hand man, and helped create the now famous Yama California Roll.  “We wanted something special with the correct balance of filling, texture and rice”.

Last year, in 2023, the Los Angeles Times recognized Yama as having LA’s Best California Roll, and still today, customers line up at Yama for this special sushi.  It is true that customers would literally fight over the last California Rolls in the fridge as two customers famously played a tug of war with the last California Roll Sushi as it went flying into the air and spilled on to the floor.

Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret”

Although Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret,” many customers through the years heard about Yama and still to this day travel across state lines to grab the Yama Sashimi and Sushi.

Yama San was a fixture in San Gabriel as many customers had a very close and personal relationship with him as he was always very generous with his support of the community.

In May 2021, Yama San decided it was time to pass the torch, and the Kohno Family of San Marino, stepped in to take over this precious gem.

“The actual interview took 6 months”

Scott Kohno

the CEO of EJL Entertainment

Yama San wanted to make sure that he could trust the next generation to maintain the quality and vision that he firmly established in San Gabriel.

With Scott’s extensive background in retail and food throughout the USA and Asia and his family’s experience in finance, marketing and operations, the store was gradually upgraded, and an expansion plan of the new Yama in West LA (opened 2022) and a brand new Yama in K-town (September 2024) commemorates an exciting time for the Yama Sushi Marketplace brand.

Today, Yama Sushi Marketplace has been named the “Adult Disneyland” by one of Yama’s customers as it transcends just a typical market or restaurant.

From the freshest sushi prepared by sushi chefs on the hour every hour,  to the largest selection of Sake, curated by Scott’s wife, Wendy a Kikisakeshi (Sake Sommelier) Yama has something for everyone.  Unique Shoyu (soy sauce) with Matsutake mushrooms, fresh wasabi, party platters including the new Temaki Time Hand Roll Party Platter and unique gifts and kitchen goods from Japan make the shopping experience second to none.

Whether it is the monthly sushi making or sake tasting classes or the cute Japanese stationery products, Yama is a store that is truly a feast for the eyes (a customer literally walked into to the store with her eyes shielded so she would not be tempted by Yama’s Specialty Gift Table.  “I just want sushi today and cannot get distracted by these tempting Japanese gifts!” she insisted.   A West LA Father holding the hand of his 4 year old daughter commented “thank you so much for bringing this store to West LA.  My daughter and I love Yama and it is now our Friday Night Date Night!”

To commemorate Yama’s 40th milestone, Yama will feature special events during the entire month of June, including retro nostalgic dishes from 40 years ago, mystery grab bags, special 40th anniversary merchandise and the festivities will conclude with the June 29th 40th Anniversary Celebration featuring a Blue Fin Sashimi Cutting Demonstration and Japanese Taiko Drummers.

Yama Seafood LA is a Japanese sushi marketplace

Yama Seafood is a Japanese sushi marketplace with 39 years of history in the San Gabriel Valley. They specialize in offering authentic Japanese meals that customers can enjoy at home, including a variety of party platters.

Both of their stores (San Gabriel and West LA) feature a unique selection of imported Japanese products, snacks, sake and beer, carefully curated and seasonally refreshed by their dedicated team. Additionally, they cater to diverse dietary preferences with grab-and-go items like Chicken Katsu, Somen Salad, and an assortment of Vegan Sushi options under our special brands, Sushi With Attitude and Vegan Sushi With Attitude.

This combination of tradition, quality, and variety makes Yama Seafood (Sushi Marketplace) an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Japanese culinary experience.

For more information, to order online or for grand opening & anniversary celebration activities please visit: https://www.yamaseafoodla.com

Elizabeth Delphin
Elizabeth Delphin loves a good time! A fun concert, a good dinner out with friends, those weird artsy-fartsy festivals. If she's not at the office or at home, she's likely walking her dog Milo at Runyon Canyon (seriously, sometimes she goes 2-3 times a day).
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