Located in a strip mall on the corner of Austin Avenue and North Road on the Burnaby-Coquitlam border, Sushi California is apparently very popular among the SFU crowd for lunch during the school year. Since the parking lot is quite small, you may end up having to park across the street at the shopping mall if you want to eat here during the busy lunch rush. Thankfully for us, it’s still summer and Sushi California wasn’t terribly busy at around 2pm in the middle of the week.
The dining room isn’t particularly special, looking like any number of other sushi joints in Metro Vancouver, but it is well-lit and airy. One thing that did strike me, though, is that our server took our order on an iPad. They have a wireless network (no free Wi-Fi for patrons, unfortunately) and it looks like the food orders are sent directly to the chefs. That’s pretty nifty.
Crunch House Roll
It’s not really a normal thing to deep-fry your maki rolls, but Sushi California actually has a few options for deep-fried sushi rolls. Here is the “Crunch House Roll,” for example, which has been dipped in tempura batter. It makes a warm, satisfying crunch.
Sashimi / Sushi Combo
The basic combo doesn’t offer much in terms of variety, since both the salmon and tuna appear as both sashimi and nigiri sushi, so you may want to order a different combo or go a la carte. In any case, the sushi itself tasted fresh and was at a reasonably chilled temperature. I’d say it’s about as good as Sushi Nanaimo with similarly reasonable pricing.
The sashimi pieces are quite large too; you can easily split each piece in half and feel like you are getting two good-sized pieces. I’ve heard that the chopped scallop can be hit and miss, as they sometimes put too much mayo, but my piece was just fine. I did find that the wasabi was on the weaker side of things, though.
Deluxe Chirashi Don
One of the better values on the menu has to be the deluxe chirashi don. I can’t speak for the regular chirashi don, but the deluxe version has a lot of fish. It certainly looks more impressive than the one we had at Gohan West Coast Japanese Restaurant. There’s a generous dollop of masago (roe) on the side, along with hotategai (scallop), salmon, tuna, hamachi (yellowtail), tako (octopus) and more.
Susanne opted for “half salad, half rice,” but there is usually a full bed of rice underneath all that fish too. Everything was fresh and filling. If you like the spicy sauce that usually accompanies spicy tuna or spicy salmon, you can ask for a (free) side dish of that too.
The total bill for the two of us, including taxes and gratuity, came to about $36. You can certainly get away with spending less if you’re not as hungry, but in terms of both quality and quantity, Sushi California is a winner in my books… even if it has a name that doesn’t exactly encourage a sense of authenticity.