Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's in a name?

Bad sushi bar names:
  • Sushi Saurus (In Belmont Shore, Long Beach)

  • Tuna Town (In downtown Huntington Beach)

  • View-shi (now-defunct sushi bar that was in the View Lounge atop the Marriott Hotel across from Fashion Island in Newport Beach)
The awful names actually kept me from even entering the premises. I refuse to step into a place called Tuna Town, especially, and besides, it was opened by a rock musician, clearly to cater to the party crowd, not RawFishionados.

But then, there's Sushi Island in Costa Mesa.
I never would have stepped into this place myself, but friends who live near by and have good taste took me there a couple of years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised at the decent quality of the fish, and the very affordable prices.
Sure, there's the gimmicky tropical/surfer theme, there are plenty of rolls to keep sushi novices satisfied, and some of the "fusion" efforts don't quite work. But the prices make it palatable.
The place reminds me of Wahoo's Fish Tacos in numerous ways, from the decor and laid-back vibe to the reliably good - though not exceptional - food.

Sushi Island is not in the same realm as Murasaki, Koi and Wazen, but it's a comfortable place with Japanese chefs - a good drive-by, fast-food-sushi kind of place, which is why I stopped in the other night. I was hungry, craving some sushi, but didn't want to go through the whole leisurely experience. It was already half past 8 p.m. after all, and I just wanted a basic tuna roll (tekka maki) for comfort-food takeout, to purely satisfy my hunger.
Adorable sushi chefs Shogo and Hiro were behind the bar, starting to clean and clear things up with closing time just minutes away. But they smilingly crafted my order of tekka maki plus 3 orders of nigiri sushi, one each of yellowtail, Spanish mackerel and unagi.
The fish was all decently tasty, what you'd expect for about $3 an order.
This is not where I think of going when I really want to treat myself to some melt-in-your mouth raw fish and traditional favorites done right. But it's made me think perhaps I need to give Sushi Saurus a try; at the very least, it could become a reliable spot, close to home, for a quick, light meal after a long work day.

In fact, I just checked Yelp for Sushi Island and comparatively, Sushi Saurus seems to rate better! I'll definitely give the jurassic sushi spot a try and report back.


  1. You are missing out Sushi Saurus is actually pretty good! I went there a couple years back and really liked it. Looking forward to your Sushi Saurus review.

  2. OK, if you try Sushi Saurus then you have to try Sushi Plantation, which I also say is in the running for worst name ever.

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