Tuesday, March 30, 2010

bear grylls would not approve

you don't have to be like bear grylls from man vs. wild who can eat a live fish straight out of the river to prove that you enjoy sushi. in fact, isn't it nicer to be able to sit at the sushi bar as you enjoy your choice of the freshest dead fish available? then you can sling down a cup of sake or two or perhaps pop a few edamame pearls in your mouth as you enjoy your sushi eating experience. i definitely don't do sushi bear grylls style, though i do enjoy fresh sushi. i especially love a dark, fresh piece of magenta colored maguro or the creamy ocean taste of my beloved uni. but not everybody enjoys the raw taste of sushi so if you don't, but would love a sushi-esque experience, come here to sushi kai in glendale...you poser :)

the inside of sushi kai is absolutely red and cavernous. modern aluminum backed chairs are the thrones for your eating experience. as i walked in with my eating partner in crime, i noticed that we were the ONLY asians present, other than the wait staff and sushi chefs. interesting.

we originally opted to sit at the sushi bar, but the strong stench of sterile, super cleaning products that had emitted from the restrooms nearby drove me to a quiet table at the other side of the dining area. the thought of gagging as i ate did not sit well with me...go figure.

a quick study of the menu indicated to me that they specialized in creative rolls and fish dishes that don't require you to taste the rawness of fish...in fact, the sashimi/regular sushi choices were actually quite slim. NO WONDER we were the only asians there!

so i let me friend order because he's not too big on the raw sushi taste anyways so the sushi kai menu was right up his alley. we started off with the 911 roll which was a spicy tuna roll topped with slices of avacado. i thought this roll was tasty and the presentation was so dang cute! look at the itty bitty crabs that adorned the dish. now, if you ask me if i can taste the tuna, i would say no.

the hawaiian roll came up next which was spicy tuna, crab, pepper seared tuna in a garlic sesame sauce. again, i thought the roll was tasty, but if you wanted that fresh sushi taste, the overwhelming garlic sauce did a great job of masking it.

the albacore salad. again, the sushi chef laid a heavy hand on the dressing so all you tasted was a citrusy miso-esque dressing. the albacore was also sliced into little chunks which made me feel like i was picking up pieces of cheerios. this dish could have been skipped.

i requested the albacore citrus ceviche which was also a fail. the yuzu citrus marinade was so overpowering that my tastebuds couldn't distinguish whether the meat i had in my mouth came from a fish or a toad. look, great way to serve up bad cuts of fish by masking the quality with the sauces (not to claim that they are, but i'm just sayin'), but surely you don't think you're a bone fide sushi restaurant if MOST of your dishes are seeped in potent sauces or creams that masks the lovely raw fish taste. at this point, i was pretty done with their fish offerings.

my friend wanted to order their hamachi kama (yellowtail collar) but sushi kai had run out of this specialty for the night. instead, they brought us complimentary apology appetizers such as their fire balls which were rolled up, cooked salmon with a panko crust. jenny craig would not approve, nor my tastebuds. great, now i have my muffin top AND my tongue revolting against me.

they also brought out a martini glass sampling of their pop shrimp festival which tasted like a love child conceived by a sexy shrimp and the panda express orange chicken. my penchant for fried sweet things were wooed by this shrimp festival. i likey!

the meal finally ended with the biggest lump of tempura ice cream on the face of the earth. thin slices of sponge cake were wrapped around a big ball of green tea ice cream, then coated with light batter and fried. heavenly it was not. the thick crust just made it harder to get to the ice cream.

this ball of green tea ice cream was better protected than even a bullet proof vest wearing cop! look at the crazy thick tempura shell.

when it was time to bid sushi kai a loud "adios!" my friend left saying he wouldn't mind coming back to try more rolls...i left thinking, omg, i didn't eat any sushi tonight :( since each roll ran between $11-$15, i think for the next time, i will save my duckets and duck into a real sushi restaurant instead. OR, i can go down to the l.a. river and take a bite out of one of those fishes swimming there a la bear grylls style.
Sushi Kai
143 S Maryland Ave
Glendale, CA 91209
(818) 243-7393
price: $$
verdict: it's aight
Sushi Kai on Urbanspoon
Sushi Kai in Los Angeles


  1. Oh my gosh, that green tempura ice cream is crazy! It kind of looks like an avocado...

    It's too bad the restaurant was a little overly ambitious with its fusioning. Sometimes less is definitely more -- especially with sushi!

  2. I'd pay a visit to Sushi Kai just for the little crab garnishes! What were they thinking?! Sorry you had to endure and pay for such a mediocre meal. Maybe head to Kabuki next time? It has funky rolls for your friend and sashimi for you!

  3. diana- yeah, too bad is right. i hate little tokyo parking and always try to find sushi places AWAY from downtown...perhaps this is not a good strategy.

    gastronomer- kabuki...hmmmm...or i just leave my friend at home :0

  4. definitely sounds like a sushi place for non-sushi enthusiasts. i'll be sure to stay away. and good luck finding bear grylls at the river... you're more likely to see him at sushi kai!


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