A couple weeks ago I met a friend at Sushi Heaven in Carmel-by-the-Sea for an early light dinner. This was a first time for both of us.
Sitting at the sushi bar, I enjoyed watching the flamboyant presentation of monster truck rolls and garnishes on combo plates. A sushi traditionalist, I don't order those things myself, but it is fun to see the riot of color and shapes the chefs can come up with. Miso soup and a bit of salad were complimentary.
We shared five pairs: 4 nigiri and 1 gunkanmaki. Preferring traditional styles, I was pleased with the sushi here, maybe because I had such low expectations. Especially notable is the quality of the rice and the skill at forming it. Slightly warmer than room temperature, not overseasoned, individual plump grains with chewy texture, and molded such that the rice doesn't break up in the dipping sauce yet not overly compacted.
Similarly, on a Monday, fish quality was better than I would have expected. Not top quality, but good for a Monday, especially in this area. The halibut and tai (snapper) were especially good, delicate, and sweet. Ono (escolar) was okay, and the shiro maguro (albacore) was shop-worn. The fish were well-trimmed of dark spots, sinew, and in proper alignment to the grain. I also appreciated the mouth-sized portions.
Because the halibut was so good this seating, we ordered one of the rolls from the sushi list, Lemon Delight. Made in gunkanmaki (battleship) style, the bright lemony zip and fresh scallion pungency complimented the delicate white fish beautifully. The nori was soggy and likely not freshly toasted.
Our tab was $33, including tax and tip.
Sushi Heaven Dolores
Dolores, Carmel, CA 93923