Roll Out to Sake Sushi

Better food is right around the corner. Literally.

While recording an episode of the weekly SAC Sidelines podcast (which I am shamelessly promoting and can be found here), our editor-in-chief paid us a visit and had in her hand some of the saddest looking sushi I had ever seen. The rice was artificially bright, and the fish looked like it had been molded out of some sad, fake meat substitute. However, nothing compared to the atrocity that was the ginger on the side. Instead of a bright pink, it was a shade of grey that the antagonist in a third-rate alien takeover movie would be subjected to becoming after a hasty basement fight in post-production.

Needless to say, it was one of the most unappetizing dishes I’ve seen come out of the school cafeteria, and it left my colleague feeling nauseous and upset for the rest of the day.

This is nothing new to those of us who cannot leave campus for hours at a time, or even for an entire day. The school cafeteria and wings cafe have little competition for students on the go, and while the Yoshinoya and Jack in the Box across the street are substandard, students are usually left feeling like they have no choice in order to go about their day without going hungry.

Right around the corner from the fast food mega-chains, however, are several independent restaurants that offer freshly cooked, quality meals that are sure to leave students happy, and in much better physical condition than the local drive-thru’s or school cafeteria. Some places are pretty easy on the wallet if planned out appropriately, and the first place we elected to try is a place called Sake Sushi; that’s so close, it’s still within eye shot of the Chevron gas station on the corner of Grand and Amar.

Upon entry, you can choose a table, or you can take your place at the sushi bar in the back of the restaurant. The eatery has modified lights to soften the mood from the traditional fluorescent bulbs that are standard in most strip malls. That is not to say that the restaurant has a traditional Japanese feel, exactly, as there are a couple of television sets displaying the news and sporting events, and there is also contemporary American music being played on the radio. However, the food is on par with any other stand alone sushi place, and is much better than anything I have had on campus. The simple fact that the ginger was pink gave me some confidence.

We sat down and ordered a couple of waters while we perused the menu, looking for what looked to be the most promising assortment of food that wouldn’t break the bank. Of course, this is a sushi place, so it isn’t exactly somewhere to go if you are being frugal. But it is still possible to spend less here than you might at one of the campus eateries, and again, the food is of much better quality.

The first dish we ordered is called the “Heart Attack.” It’s a deep fried jalapeños stuffed with spicy tuna, cream cheese, and masago. As the name would indicate, it is not exactly the healthiest thing on the menu, but nothing that tastes this amazing ever is. It’s basically a jalapeño popper on steroids.

While this is not exactly the kind of dish most people head to a sushi restaurant to consume, it is not only tasty, but affordable. At the low price of $4.50 for the entire plate, it was fairly filling, and we continued to stuff our faces with several other dishes until it became hard to move.

Heart Attack Roll
Rating: 🍙 🍙 🍙 🍙 🍙
Price: 💲4.50

After the aforementioned “Heart Attack,” we ordered a combination of sushi, and rolls, making sure to try some fresh fish, as well as a few other deep fried delicacies. The quail eggs came next on a plate with salmon, and shortly after, our fresh eel arrived. Everything tasted fresh, and was well prepared. We got a tempura roll, and a baked roll without getting an actual sushi roll, which we would have liked to remedy, but we were already at the point where we were considering having to roll out instead of walking. It turns out excessive amounts of tempura batter can make the simple act of standing up seem like a near impossibility.

Pictured below is everything we ended up getting, and it turned out to be a little much for only two people, meaning we could have gotten out of there for a lot less money than we did.

All of this food plus a small carafe of sake set us back just under $25 each, and while that may seem like a lot of money, the excess amount of food we ordered cannot be overstated. The salmon was $3.00, the rolls range from about four dollars on the low end to around 11 dollars for the priciest ones. The eel was only three dollars as well, and they even have lunch specials for as little as $6.99. We easily could have made it out of the restaurant spending less than we did, but we overindulged, for the sake of Mt. SAC students both current, and future.

There is one major drawback to this restaurant however; the service is terrible. If you have a break that is several hours long or are done for the day, and you’re willing to wait a while for some good food, this place is great. If you only have a short break between classes, you’re gonna have a bad time. The food can sometimes take an unnecessarily long time to arrive, and there may be times you actually have to wave down the waitress to order more food. We had been finished eating for a solid ten minutes before I had to get up and walk over to the register and wait for the server to come out from the kitchen in order to get our check. The water refills were not exactly easy to come by either, and for a good amount of the time, we were the only ones present in the restaurant.

That said, with as much food as we had eaten and with nothing else to do for the day, we were about as eager to leave as we were to fall asleep right there in the booths. Given the spare time, the food quality makes up for the lack of service. Overall, Sake Sushi is a solid restaurant with pretty good food and pretty bad service.

Final rating:

Food (The most important thing for me):🍙 🍙 🍙 🍙

Ambiance (The absolute least important thing in my opinion):🍙 🍙 🍙

Service: 🍙 🍙

Price: 🍙 🍙 🍙 🍙

Overall, due to the way my personal scale is balanced with food quality being far and away the most important: 🍙 🍙 🍙 1/2