• California (34)

Pleasanton, CA — Kaki Sushi

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Published on: August 29, 2013
Kaki Sushi
3120 Santa Rita Rd
Pleasanton, CA

I spent a week at a client in Pleasanton, California in the East Bay. On Thursday night I decided I needed to find a sushi restaurant.I quick online search took me to Kaki Sushi. The first thing that I noticed about Kaki Sushi was the kitschy decor.Japanese trinkets everywhere — I felt like I had stepped into an anime convention.

I decided to order the sashimi combination. I was pleasantly surprised when my waitress took my order and brought out a complimentary dish of edamame.

Generous portions reasonable price. White tuna awesome. Huge order of gyoza, came with soup salad. Edamame. Every guest got a piece of fried fish (halibut?) over-decorated brought everything all at once.

Kaki Sushi was very good. I ordered gyoza as an appetizer and was surprised to see six pieces in the order. The combo came with miso soup and a lettuce salad with ginger dressing. Something special must have been going on because each table also received a complimentary order of fried fish (halibut I think). I estimate that the fish was 6-7 ounces, a meal in itself.

My sashimi combo was good but ordinary. The white tuna however, was exceptional. The only thing that kept Kaki Sushi from getting a better rating was the service. The service was attentive and friendly but they had no sense of timing. Everything seemed to come out of the kitchen at once. I got my sashimi combo before my appetizer.

Other than the quirky service Kaki Sushi was very very good.

Kaki Sushi 4 rice bowls * * * * -

San Mateo, CA — Joy Sushi

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Published on: June 25, 2011
Joy Sushi
30 S B St
San Mateo, CA

I was in the Bay Area with some colleagues. Neither of them were sushi fanatics but since I had the rental car — we had sushi. After looking for some online reviews we settled on Joy Sushi in San Mateo. When we got to Joy we were seated at a spacious in their upstairs seating area.

The complimentary Miso and salad were a pleasant surprise. We ordered a variety of rolls to share. When our food arived I was concerned because the portions were huge! To my surprise, at the end of the night we had eaten every bite. The menu contained an innovative selection of rolls. The quality of the fish was good and the meal was an excellent value.

Joy Sushi is definitely one of my mid-peninsula favorites.

Joy Sushi 4 rice bowls * * * * -

Dublin, CA — E Sushi!

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Published on: August 14, 2008
E Sushi!
7435 Amador Valley Blvd.
Dublin, CA

I was in the East Bay looking for sushi and there were several choices nearby. I chose E Sushi! because the name was unusual. E Sushi is a modern looking restaurant in a strip mall. The menu is extensive, I think I spent twenty minutes looking it over.

I started with an order of gyoza. It was an excellent choice, the best I have ever had. It was fried, a little bit crispy yet still delicate and tasty. The sauce was the perfect accent tangy but not too spicy.

The Maki menu was so enticing that I decided to have an all Maki meal. I ordered three rolls, one was a salmon skin hand roll. All three were very good but the salmon skin roll was absolutely amazing. The skin was crispy and had just enough salmon flesh left on it. I enjoy salmon skin no matter how it is prepared.

I enjoyed everything at E Sushi, I will be back.

E Sushi! 4 rice bowls * * * * -

Irvine, CA — Maki Maki

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Published on: May 16, 2008
Maki Maki
71 Fortune Drive, Suite 954
Irvine, CA

My sunglasses broke. Not just any sunglasses, a pair of Oakley Pro-M Frames, trouble is that these frames have been discontinued so I went to the Oakley store in the Irvine Spectrum Center to look fo r anew pair. After buying my sunglasses, I went to look for a place to eat. Maki Maki is right next to the Oakley store. It is a large restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking one of the mall’s walkways.

At first glance, I assumed that Maki Maki must be part of a large chain. There were very professional-looking signs and posters all over. I ordered gyoza and a Philadelphia Roll, an Asparagus Tuna Roll and a special Albacore Delight Roll.

The gyoza was crispy and tasty with just the right amount of spice in the sauce. When my sushi arrived, I was immediately disappointed, The rolls were very bland looking and rather artlessly arranged on the plate. The rolls were mostly rice with little fish or other filling. The Albacore roll was especially slimy.

I would have been better off eating at the Subway just a few doors away.

Maki Maki 1 rice bowls * - - - -

Newport Beach, CA — Wasa Sushi

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Published on: May 16, 2008
Wasa Sushi
1346 Bison Ave
Newport Beach, CA

Wasa is  a small chain of  four sushi restaurants in tony Orange County, south of Los Angeles. I am spending the week in a hotel at the nearby Fashion Island mall, so Wasa was nearby and I thought I would give it a try.

Wasa is located in the Bluffs mini mall next to a Panera. Wasa is a very modern restaurant with white walls and wood paneling and a large sushi bar. The place was full of well-dressed young people. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. The groups at the bar were sharing sake and beer with the sushi chefs. Very trendy, not usually my kind of place but it was too late to back out.

I took a seat at a corner of the sushi bar and started to read the menu. The selection of rolls was not very exciting so I decided to order sashimi a la carte. I asked the chef whether they had mirugai (giant clam). I was pleased when he said they did. I ordered mirugai, salmon and one of my favorites, Spanish Mackerel. A waiter brought me a complimentary order of edamame. I settled in with the edamame and my book.

I watched closely as the sushi chef started to work. He was an older Japanese man who was clearly a master. He had an effortless way of using his knife that was cool to watch. He used a short triangular blade knife and deftly sliced the fish. When my sashimi was served it was beautiful. The plate was garnished with sliced cucumber, Japanese radish and some mayonaisse. The pièce de resistance was the mackerel. The mackerel had been filleted off the fish body. The body was skewered between the tail fin and the head. The mackerel was served on top of the fish body.

All of the fish was absolutely perfect. The giant clam was crisp and tasty. The salmon had a strong but not overpowering taste to it. It was just fishy enouigh without being too slimy. I am a sucker for fresh mackerel and this was perfect. The chef made up a sauce for it, and while the fish was good by itself the sauce was just right. It was tangy and a bit sweet but it enhanced the mackerel but did not mask the flavor.

At the end of an excellent meal I received a surprise. The chef took my mackerel bones and fried them. When I got the fried bones, fish head and tail back, they were neatly arranged on a plate. I asked the chef how to eat it an he said, "just eat the bones."

On Guam, we ate fried fish tails, so this reminded me of my childhood. The fried bones were the perfect compliment to my excellent sashimi. I also at the flesh around the fish head. I later found out that this presentation is called Aji no tataki — if you ever see it on the menu, try it.

This was the best sushi experience I have ever had — Wasa doesn’t just get five rice bowls — Wasa is now my favorite sushi restaurant.

Wasa 5 rice bowls * * * * *

San Francisco, CA — Maru Sushi

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Published on: May 15, 2008
Maru Sushi
529 Powell St
San Francisco, CA

Maru Sushi in San Francisco is located on the hillside between Union Square and Nob Hill. Anyone who has ridden the Powell-Market or Powell-Hyde cable car lines has seen the restaurant carved into the side of the hill just above Union Square. I have ridden past it many times but never stopped.

This week I was in San Francisco and I thought I would give it a try. I looked online for some other reviews and I was surprised, many reviewers had not been impressed but a few really liked the place. I decided that I would be open-minded and give Maru Sushi a try. I was staying at the SF Marriott near the cable car terminal on Powell Street so I hopped on the cable car and rode halfway up the hill. When I got of it was a half block of walking up a steep incline to get to the restaurant.

Maru Sushi is a clean rather modern looking restaurant. I was seated at a table with lighting bright enough to read my book by. I ordered my usual sashimi and a Philadelphia roll. I think the other reviewers were wrong. Every thing at Maru Sushi was good. The fish was fresh and the roll was nicely prepared.

Nothing stood out about Maru Sushi but nothing was bad either.

Maru Sushi 3 rice bowls * * * * -

Roseville, CA — Mikuni Sushi

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Published on: March 25, 2008
Mikuni Sushi
1565 Eureka Rd
Roseville, CA

Last night I ate at a horrible Asian buffet it had sushi but the hot food was so bad, I couldn’t bring myself to even try it. So when the locals recommended Mikuni Sushi — I decided to give it a try. Mikuni is a regional chain with five restaurants in the Sacramento area and one at Lake Tahoe.

Mikuni is close to my hotel so it was a short drive. Mikuni i slocated in a corner of a small strip mall. When I drove up I saw that Mikuni is a large restaurant with huge glass windows. The sense I got from the exterior was a trendy place with a young hip crowd. Inside, the restaurant had a very modern look but it was not loud. There were TVs all over the place in pairs, one showing sports and the other showing a variety of local ads including Mikuni sushi ads.

The hostess sat me at a table under a large light so I was able to read my book. As I was looking over the menu, she brought me a large bowl of Miso soup. When the waitress came back I ordered some gyoza and continued to explore the large menu. The menu included a variety of non-sushi items and over a page full of sushi rolls.

One unusual thing about the menu was the way the rolls were listed. Each roll had a name (like Masa 2), a list of primary ingredients in brackets and then a description. I found the list of ingredients a bit difficult to decipher because it used  a number of abbreviations. For example D.F. and avo for deep-fired and avocado.

I ordered a sashimi combo and a Masa 2 roll. After I finished the Miso, I tried the gyoza, it was lightly crispy and very tasty. Unfortunately, just as I started on the appetizer, the sashimi and the roll arrived. I would have preferred that the sushi and sashimi arrive after I had time to finish the appetizer.

The roll was very interesting. First, it was extremely large. Second, at first glance, it appeared that the roll was cut into three large pieces. When I looked closely, I saw that the large pices were each cut into four more normal sized pieces. This didn’t affect the flavor but the presentation was unusual. The menu desribed the Masa 2 roll as smoked salmon, tuna, cream cheese, avocado, roe and lemon. When I took my first bite, it was perfect but there was a taste or aftertaste that I did not recognize. I had another piece but still I was confised. AsI looked at the roll closely I saw that on top of the salmon and under the roe was a wafer-thin slice of lemon. The lemon included the peel. The combination of the minute splash of lemon juice and the texture of the peel was absolutely unique.

The sashimi was a nice selection of very small pieces. It was all very fresh but not remarkable. The presentation was only average.

Mikuni surprised me, everything was good but the roll was exceptional.

Mikuni Sushi4 rice bowls * * * * -

Vallejo, CA — Yummy Sushi

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Published on: October 29, 2007
Yummy Sushi
2200 Redwood St.
Vallejo, CA

I was in nearby Hercules California for the week and I had to run an errand to Vallejo. When I was there I looked up a nearby sushi restaurant and found Yummy Sushi. Yummy Sushi is a brand new restaurant in located in what looks to be an old drive-in restaurant.

The restaurant is hard to get to because Redwood Street is very busy and you can only turn into the parking lot from one direction. At first I thought that Yummy shared a parking lot with the neighboring supermarket, I was wrong. I pulled into the supermarket lot and then I had to pull out and do two u-turns.

Yummy was a little bit strange. I was seated at a table near the door but the direct sunlight made it too hot so I had to move. The restaurant was organized in an unusual way. Guests are supposed to look over the menu and then walk up to the counter to place an order. A waiter brings the food to the table.

The sushi at Yummy was decent quality. The fish was fresh but unremarkable.

I would not go out of my way but if I were in the neighborhood and driving the right direction on Redwood, I would stop in.

Yummy Sushi 3 rice bowls * * * - -

San Mateo, CA — Kisaku

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Published on: March 30, 2007
46 East 4th Ave
San Mateo, CA

I was waiting to catch the redeye from SFO. I knew I would end up killing some time a the Barnes and Noble in the Hillsdale Mall on the El Camino. So Iwas looking for a place to eat in the San Mateo area near the airport. Using the Hertz GPS I noticed a cluster of Japanese restaurants in San Mateo’s trendy downtown district.

The fact that there were so many in the general area was a good sign. In this target-rich environment, I knew it would be difficult to make a choice. Therefore, I used the scientific method — I chose the sushi restaurant nearest the parking space I found!

The decor in Kisaku is simple but nice with beautiful thick wooden doors Right away, I noticed that in addition to seating at the sushi bar, dining room and tatami room; Kisaku also has counter seating in fron of their grill and hot food station. (I think it is called a Robata bar) Kisaku had a whiteboard with an impressive list of specials. They included sushi, grilled dishes and appetizers. I did not count them but there were probably 15-20 different specials. The mackerel special caught my attention but instead I opted for the chef’s choice sashimi.

The sashimi came with edameme but not rice or Miso soup.When my order arrived, I was surprised at the selection. My sashimi plate had tuna, salmon, yellowtail, snapper and uni (sea urchin). I think this is the first time, I have seen uni on a sashimi combo. The snapper and tuna wer not bad but the yellowtail had a very nice flavor. It was tasty but not to strong and the consistency was nice and firm.

I do not often order uni but it was so good, I might change my mind. Usually I order uni as nigiri (on top of rice with seaweed). I was surprised to find that I liked it better all by itself, The flavor is delicate and easily masked by the salty seaweed and the rice.

Kisaku was a serendipitous find, I know I’l be back.

Kisaku: 4 rice bowls * * * * -

San Jose, CA — Tomo Sushi

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Published on: March 28, 2007
Tomo Sushi
5487 Snell Ave
San Jose, CA

One of the things I love about the bay area is that there are sushi bars everywhere. This week in San Jose I decided to look on the web for a sushi bar. I ended up finding some online reviews for Tomo Sushi. It sounded like my kind of place, good quality and not overly pretentious or expensive.

I programmed the GPS and followed it to San Jose’s Blossom Valley area and found Tomo Sushi. Tomo Sushi is located in a strip mall storefront hidden behind a Pizza Hut. The other reason I chose Tomo Sushi was that it was open until 10:00pm. As a former restaurant manager, I know that just before closing is the worst time to visit any restaurant. Employees are trying to finish up their work and head home. So, when I was greeted cheerfully by my waitress and the sushi chefs I was pleased.

Tomo Sushi is larger han it looks. It has a medium sized sushi bar and several tables and booths. The menu includes both sushi and cooked Japanese items. For sushi novices, the menu has pictures of most sushi items. I ordered a couple of nigiri, two rolls, MIso soup and gyoza. Unfortunately, they were out of the mirugai and aji. I changed and ordered yellowtail and tuna.

When my order arrived, the salad was very good. The dressing was not overpowering and the amount was just right. The yellowtail was absolutely perfect, firm  flavorful. The tuna was also very good.

The nigiri was good but the rolls made the meal. I ordered my usual, a Philadelphia Roll. It was perfect, the cream cheese, avocado and salmon were just the right mix so as not to overpower each other.

For my other roll I ordered a Lesley Roll. I ordered it because I saw its picture in the menu. The Lesley Roll included avocado, salmon, lemon and creamy scallops. I love scallops and avocado so I had to try it. The mixture of flavors and texture was sublime (first time I have used the word in a review). Everything went together perfectly. The scallops provided a hint of creaminess and though the texture is unfamiliar to most Americans I loved it.

I enjoyed everything about Tomo Sushi.

Tomo Sushi: 5 rice bowls * * * * *
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