Sushi Mambo's exterior, with its wooden panels and Japanese-style sloping eaves, evokes the rustic charm of an Edo-era highway inn or the comfortable elegance of a samurai's man cave. Guests dine on artfully arranged maki lined with yellowtail, salmon, and eel or savor the tastes of miso ramen soup or bowls of chicken udon. Specialty rolls combine the complimentary flavors and textures of crunchy tempura chicken, creamy avocado, and spicy sauces, and sashimi plates arrange delicate slices of salmon or tender tuna onto colorful plates of greens, lemons, and carved carrot flowers. The restaurant was also featured on the TV series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
At Tokyo Shabu Sushi Restaurant, sushi masters slice up delicate sashimi and handrolled maki while chefs put flame to chicken katsu, teriyaki steak, and umami udon noodle soups. But the crew also takes their flavors a step beyond the offerings of many other Japanese restaurants. The menu has a knack of blending Japanese and western influences, as seen in teriyaki-style New York strip steak and a creamy cheesecake dessert made with earthy green tea. Potent sake cocktails and frosty Japanese beers go with just about any dish and help visitors work up the courage to perform their spoken-word versions of "Purple Rain" during weekend karaoke.
Roy Lui and Chanel Liu, expert fish purveyors and Tsukiji Sushi Bar & Restaurant's proprietors, place veteran chef Haruo Komatsu at the helm of a kitchen stocked with fresh fish and tender Koshihikari rice. Sourced from the enormous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, sushi staples including albacore tuna, salmon, and eel curl up in sleeping bags of salty rice and seaweed alongside more exotic offerings such as sea urchin, flying-fish roe, giant clam, and lightly grilled submarine. At the sushi bar, chef Komatsu awes onlookers in seven nearby seats as he deftly slices rolls and doles them out for immediate consumption.
Master chef Kaz Sasaki has spent more than 15 years behind a sushi bar. But his roots in the craft extend much deeper than that. Chef Sasaki learned his skills from his father, Master Yuzo Sasaki, a man who was required to spend the first three years of his sushi apprenticeship perfecting his rice-making techniques before he was allowed to even touch a piece of fish. Chef Kaz also learned that great sushi not only looks good, but also has the right consistency?it's not too hard to chew or too soft and falling apart like a magician performing without his smoke bombs.
At Taki Sushi, chef Kaz composes a menu that includes sashimi, nigiri, and nearly 20 different special rolls. He also crafts other Japanese favorites, including shabu-shabu hot pots, sukiyaki, and udon.
Acclaimed restaurateur Yoshi Tome came to America for a teacher-exchange program, but he used his degree more in teaching Americans how to truly enjoy sushi. Today he owns the restaurant Sushi Ran, where his chefs craft entrees with fresh fish from local purveyors or from the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Executive chef Scott Whitman has a plate for every taste—vegetarian options, seafood, and meaty entrees including slow-cooked duck breast and Vietnamese shaking beef. Meanwhile, executive sushi chef Nori Kusakabe rolls soft-shell crab, vegetables, and spicy tuna at the sushi bar. Wine director Gabriel Alamilla helps diners navigate the 300-bottle wine list and explore the collection of 30 small-production wines by the glass. He matches rieslings with raw fish and chardonnays with Japanese entrees. He can also recommend a selection from 30 different sakes, which are separated into four categories: fragrant, light/smooth, rich, and aged.
Sushi California sates eager bellies with a suite of delectable Asian cuisine. Non-seafood nosh-seekers feast upon succulent specials such as the chicken teriyaki, served with rice, soup, and salad ($7.75 at lunch, $11.95 at dinner), and ice-cream-chapped esophagi can defrost with warm, brothy udon soup ($7.95). Sushi offerings span raw-fish styles, with humbly unadorned sashimi arriving in chirashi ($16.50) and hamachi ($19.75) platters with small, rice-bound nigiri balls bearing loads of green mussels ($3.75), scallops ($4.75), salmon ($4.25), and mackerel ($3.95). Eclectic six-piece rolls range from the classic california ($4.50), which ensnares crab cake and avocado within its rice-and-seaweed tractor beam, to the unhinged crazy roll, which smuggles in yellow tail, fish roe, tuna, avocado, and cucumber ($8.95). Veggie-friendly options abound, from inari pieces ($2.75) to squash rolls ($3.95).