I tried the sushi bar at Akwa (Santa Monica and 5th, next door to Jiraffe) a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised. Just had a couple items because I was at the bar upstairs and got a little hungry. The sushi chef, Joe, was very helpful. I know "Joe" does not sound like much of a sushi chef, but he is excellent. It was his first few days at Akwa, and I think he has been brought in to give the sushi menu a spruce.
Last night, my girlfriend and I got a call from friends saying they were going to the bar at Akwa for drinks. We hadn't had dinner yet and decided to go earlier and try a full meal at the sushi bar. Lucky for us, Joe the sushi chef was there and our dining experince began. We started with spicy tuna + avacado hand rolls and I must say, the spicy tuna was amazing. It may have been the cleanest tasting spicy tuna I have ever had. We tried some of the specials like the Akwa special roll, and that was great as well. Joe, who I think is the head sushi chef, told us about other specials he created and gave us free tasters of some. He gave us each a nice sized slice of "ice smoked dill salmon" and it was great as well.
All in all, it was a great experience. I am surprised to see that the few times I have been there, usually to the bar upstairs, the place is somewhat empty. I am really excited to have found such a great sushi place nearby that does not break the bank. We had a lot of food and the bill came to about $75, and that includes two large beers.
I am not sure about the regular restaurant at Akwa but the sushi bar is moving near the top of my list.
Has anyone else tried the sushi there recently?