After baking (and baking...and baking some more) for most of the day today, the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner. Bryan was craving sushi so we decided to try Sushi Eyaki, a strip mall sushi joint recommended to us by good friends. These friends are self-professed sushi snobs, so they know high quality sushi when they have it. But best of all, they refuse to be held hostage to high quality sushi at an inflated price. Especially in Los Angeles, where mediocre, yet incredibly trendy and expensive sushi restaurants can be found on almost every corner.
Sushi Eyaki is in a strip mall on the Southwest corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Highland Ave. From the outside, Sushi Eyaki appears completely ordinary and easy to miss, tucked away between a dry cleaners and some other strip-mallish store. But once inside the tiny yet warm interior, you're greeted by Eyaki's friendly staff and can't help but check out the sushi masterpieces on each of the restaurant's eight small tables.
Bryan and I took seats at the sushi bar, ordering our drinks – hot green tea for me and water and a miso soup for him. Okay, miso soup isn't exactly a drink, but considering you drink it out of the cup and he got nothing else but water, I'm considering it his "drink." Bryan loved the miso soup, telling me over and over again how much more flavorful it was compared to other sushi restaurants.
Per usual, the sushi chefs presented us with a small plate of wasabi paste, ginger and a small mound of pickled cucumbers. The cucumbers came in handy to temper the spiciness of our rolls. We looked for our chopsticks, which as any sushi lover knows are typically presented as cardboard-meets-particle board wrapped in a recycled paper sleeve. Not at Sushi Eyaki. The chopsticks at Eyaki are made from metal and contained in a Japanese hideaway box. Pretty out of the ordinary but a really nice touch.
Once Bryan finished his soup, we ordered a half-order of yellowtail and salmon sashimi. It was fantastic. The quality of the fish was so fresh, so tender and so delicate it literally melted in your mouth. Some may disagree with me, but I love to add a tiny bit of wasabi to the fish's surface, give it a tiny dip in soy sauce and then enjoy. Some say it takes away the pure flavor of the fish; I think it just makes it the perfect sashimi package. Personally, some salt and heat work in perfect harmony with the flavors of the fish.
Next, we ordered two rolls: the Hawaiian roll and Eyaki roll. The Hawaiian Roll is spicy tuna topped with tuna, avocado, scallions and Eyaki's signature sauce. The Eyaki roll is a spicy tuna roll with cucumber, topped with yellowtail, ponzu sauce, masago and sliced jalapenos. We love our spicy tuna, what can we say?
The presentation of both rolls was absolutely gorgeous. It's obvious that Eyaki's sushi chefs take great pride in the artistry of their rolls, paying attention to the flavors, the colors and the textures of each dish. The rolls were beautiful to look at and even more delicious to eat.
After our sushi order, I was really gunning for something acidic, like a piece or orange or sorbet. Our waitress showed me their sorbet menu, which included lemon, orange, mango, pineapple and mango-coconut sorbets served in actual fruit cups. We ordered the lemon sorbet to split, and the presentation was just as lovely and surprising as the sushi itself. Served in a lemon cup balanced in a martini glass rimmed with raspberry syrup, the lemon sorbet was soft, tangy and topped with a honey-tasting syrup. I'm not sure what it was, but it really nice nonetheless.
Our meal was quick, maybe 45 minutes total, but everything about it was great. The service was attentive and friendly, the food was beautiful on the inside and the outside, and the ambiance was warm and seemingly "in the know." Because once you've experienced Sushi Eyaki, this tiny, strip mall sushi powerhouse, you're in the club. And you almost don't want to tell anyone about it, lest you not get a table next time you go. But in order to share it with you, I'll take my chances. :)