I read that Asuka had inexpensive but high quality sushi, so I decided to try it. I probably should have trusted my gut when I walked in, because something about the atmosphere told me that this wasn't going to be the greatest sushi experience of my life. The decor is inconsistent with the kind of mellow vibe I expect of a Japanese place. The restaurant is set up as one big room, with tables and booths in the center, and a sushi bar on each side. The overall color of the interior is orange, though one wall was painted bright green. Psychologically speaking, orange is unpopular and supposed to be an appetite supressant, making it a poor choice for a restaurant interior. The lighting was on the high side for a Japanese restaurant, and the place was fairly noisy. Overall, the ambience was much more 80's salad bar than sushi restaurant.
I don't really think the sushi was cheaper, and the presentation was sloppy. Granted, I have only experienced what one of their chefs had to offer, but a higher caliber place would never have hired this guy (or let him stay). I witnessed him crookedly hack through a roll with flimsy serrated knife. I was thoroughly confused. If I know better than to try to cut through seaweed neatly with a crappy knife (or to even use such a knife in the first place), surely a sushi chef should know this?
Rarely do I order anything that says M.P. next to it, but I decided to go for it, though in retrospect, I don't think anyone can justify charging $5 a bite for, well, anything (especially since I have a budget to stick to). The toro was pretty melt in your mouth tasty, like it should be, but it had a kind of funny aftertaste. I haven't had toro that many times. Perhaps it always has this taste and I've never noticed it before.
Young yellowtail was a special, and is supposed to be somewhat of a delicacy, I thought, but I really didn't think it tasted like much, and at only $5, it wasn't priced like it was anything special. Also, they were out of giant clam.
I ordered a vegetable tempura roll, and got a shrimp tempura roll with some vegetables. I'm allergic to shellfish, so I had to send it back. The chef apologized twice, but I was kind of bummed by the long wait time for the only roll I ordered. Also, the shrimp tempura roll had been this oversized creation that my hungry stomach was getting excited about (until it saw the shrimp), and the vegetables tempura roll that replaced it was about half the size--not much of an apology, even though I much prefer rolls that actually fit in my mouth.
We had to request the check, as no one bothered to ask us if we were finished. This is a common restaurant occurence, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get on my nerves. We had no problem splitting our bill between our two credit cards, however, our individual orders weren't listed, only a total, leaving us to go back to the menu and figure out how much we had each spent. The server who took our money asked if everything had been okay. He asked this in a way that indicated to me that he sensed my discontent, but I didn't see any point in saying, yeah, everything tasted fine, but maybe you could change your decor and get your sushi chef a new knife? so I just said that everything had been fine.
My friend had a yellowtail scallion roll and a rainbow roll. She liked them both, but is not as picky about food as I. The moral of this story is that if you are the average consumer of sushi, you will likely be perfectly happy at Asuka, and if you are more discriminating, you're better off sticking to higher caliber places. That is, if your favorite food is sushi, don't eat here, but if your favorite food is Italian, you might like it just fine. Sushi, I'm convinced, is an area of life where you tend to get what you pay for.
1226 Westwood Blvd
West LA 90024
Lunch M-F 11:30-2:00
Dinner Sun-Th 5:30-10:00
Dinner Fri, Sat 5:30-11:00
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