Restaurant Review: Sushi California

If you’re craving sushi on a rainy Friday night in Berkeley, Sushi California is the place to be. Located off of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, you will be sure to have a delightful experience at this intimate sushi spot.

As with most restaurants in Berkeley, you may have to drive around the block a few times before you find parking. Luckily, my dining mates and I found parking the second time around. I suggest taking the bus if you can!

Immediately greeted by the jazz guitarist in the front of the restaurant, the live music ultimately sets up the warm, relaxing atmosphere that is unique to Sushi California. With a string of Christmas lights around the sushi bar and little things here and there for décor, this small sushi bar and grill has a lot to offer. It’s perfect if you’re planning a date with that special someone or a small get together with a couple of friends – not too many as the seating is limited and the tables are full at dinnertime. Nevertheless, full tables are a sign for fulfilling service and fantastic food.

A peek at Sushi California's menu.

The coolest toothpick holder ever.

We were able to snag open seats at the seven-seat sushi bar. With only one hostess handling all the tables, patience was required of all of us. The sushi chef, however, is quite the opposite – he whips out the orders quite fast and ceases to fail in rolling them to perfection. As for the owner, he is one to win your heart. With a no-problem-you-got-it attitude, it’s hard not to fall in love with this adorable man!

The ever so catering owner (left) and the so very swift sushi chef.

I decided to order their Special Spicy Tuna Roll (with tobiko) and one order of Hamachi (yellow tail). I’ve had a wide array of Spicy Tuna Rolls and this one definitely earned a high position in the Taste category. With a generous amount of special mayonnaise mixed with the fresh tuna, one piece will excite your taste buds and leave your mouth watering for more (I ended up splitting another order of it). As for the Hamachi, all I can say is that I wish it wasn’t so expensive because I wanted more! The sushi chef slices heartier pieces of fish for his Nigiri Sushi than what I’ve experienced at other sushi restaurants --- definitely, a plus.

The Special Spicy Tuna Roll.

A closer look at the Special Spicy Tuna Roll: is your mouth watering yet?

If you can’t decide from the Nigiri Sushi menu, I suggest getting the Sushi Dinner Special A as one of my dining mates did. In addition to soup and salad, it consists of a six-piece California Roll, two tuna and one of each of the following: mackerel, unagi, and halibut, and shrimp, salmon, and yellow tail.

Sushi Dinner Special A with its generous pieces of Nigiri sushi.

If sushi isn’t quite your craving, they have several Katsu, Teriyaki and other Japanese dishes under their Combination Dinner Specials. These also come with miso soup, salad, and rice. From doing a little taste testing of my dining mate’s scallops, these savory dishes do not cease to please. However, I would have liked to see more meat than green in the combinations.

Combination Dinner Special #2 with Katsu Chicken and Scallops.

With Hawaiian Sun Guava drinks all around and oldies performed live on the guitar, Sushi California creates a perfect atmosphere for de-stressing and casual dining. Although it’s not the perfect place if you’re looking for fast service and roomy dining, the single hostess does her best in trying to accommodate everyone. Overall, I was very satisfied with my choice in sushi. They have a wider selection of Nigiri sushi than specialty rolls and the menu is a bit pricey on some items, however. It’s not somewhere I would go for a quick sushi fix but has definitely been added to My Favorites for its intimate atmosphere, live music, friendly service, and overall quality and taste.

One last look before leaving Sushi California.

For more information and to view their full menu, please visit their website. Happy dining!

Samantha Dizon
BARE Reporter

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