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8 best sushi restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, ready for takeout … – The San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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Ever since sushi moved from the realm of culinary exotica to cognoscenti object-of-desire back in the late 1970s, it’s been the food of choice for trendies and fast-laners. And these days, for pretty much all of us.
From Teru Sushi and Asanebo in Studio City, to Matsuhisa in Hollywood, to R-23 in downtown LA’s Warehouse District, to branches of Sushi Roku and Katsuya all over town, being able to differentiate between sea eel and fresh water eel has marked you as a diner of distinction, someone whose tastebuds have risen far above those of the McDonald’s millions.
Also, supermodels and Hollywood starlets like the stuff because it’s high in protein and low in calories. And studio types love it because shouting at the chefs is considered to be good form — it’s a culinary form of therapy, with a sake chaser.
And in these hard times, it’s also a joy to order takeout from the many options around town. Ranging from impossible-to-get-into hype trendies like N/Naka (which offers a $38 bento box, about one-tenth the price of dinner there!), to funky, downhome, eccentrically named sushi roll joints, where every dish is packed with tempura and Sriracha and other American twists not found in Tokyo.
I love takeout sushi. I found monster amounts of pleasure with the bento boxes sold in the train stations of Japan — elegant, joyous, fun bits of art, with beautiful wrapping, and food within so perfect that you hesitate to eat it. But of course, you do.
I recognize there are folks who worry about the healthiness of eating raw fish — especially raw fish delivered from a restaurant where you’re not actually seeing the preparation at the sushi bar. It’s a chance I’m willing to take, oh ye of little faith. The goodness of this takeout sushi transcends my worries. They make my plague imprisonment if not tolerable, at least bearable.
The choices are many, but these are some of my most trusted favorites:
Grill ‘n Sushi
12602 Hadley St., Whittier, 562-693-4777, www.grillnsushica.com
Not near as much stuff is grilled at this Whittier wonder, but lots and lots is rolled. Check it out: There are 17 hand rolls, 55 special rolls, 23 nigiri, eight sashimi — and 10 bowls, while we’re at it.
And in case you have an extended family — or neighbors you’ve wiped down with Lysol — there are half a dozen party platters, at terrific prices. Consider 64 pieces of California roll for $40…and 64 pieces of mixed special rolls for $75. It won’t exactly make you happy to be isolated. But being well-fed is, you know, being well-fed. A happy tummy makes for a happy person.
146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena; 626-298-8386, www.sugarfishsushi.com
For my family, SugarFish has long been the sushi takeout option of choice. My daughter, flying home from college, will text me to be waiting with one of the pre-assembled bentos — usually the Trust Me Lite, but on occasion, the full Trust Me if the need arises. There’s also a bigger Nozawa Trust Me, and an even bigger box called Don’t Think Just Eat.
And when I say “box,” I’m understating the elegance of the orders. The boxes are white, with the restaurant’s fish logo, and small, perfectly shaped compartment for every salad, roll, sauce, ginger and wasabi container. It’s all delivered in a shopping bag so well constructed, you may keep it as a work of art. Eccentric, but you know.
It’s all drawn from Chef Nozawa notoriously limited menu of two types of sashimi, 15 nigiri sushi, and nine rolls. With no spicy tuna. Don’t even ask. You may be told to leave. Famously, the chef has been known to do that.
SushiMe Roll’n
2686 E. Garvey Ave S., West Covina; 626-789-1109, www.sushimerolln.com
It’s hard not to be dazzled by the roll selection at SushiMe Roll’n — a name that seems to have been translated from Martian, with a logo of a sushi roll…on wheels. It makes the place sound like a revolving sushi bar, which it’s not. It’s a Vegas (or perhaps Ginza) style restaurant, with dazzling lighting and wall decorations and glass-topped tables with glowing lights underneath — which I look forward to seeing again, when the current plague has come to an end.
But the sushi rolls are still available. And no big surprise, like the place, they’re largely over-the-top, while never being anything other than highly enjoyable. Each of them takes up a lot of real estate in their containers — composed of lots of sauce filigree, dots and dashes.
Consider the barely describable You See Me Roll’n Roll. It’s a mass of albacore, yellowtail tuna, cream cheese, flying fish roe, eel sauce, spicy mayo — and in case that isn’t enough…it’s deep-fried. And that’s a downright understated roll, compared to the Flamin’ Hot Roll which is, wait for it…spicy crab, spicy tuna, cream cheese, jalapeños, hot sauce and…Lord help us…Hot Cheetos.
By comparison, the Kardashian Roll, which sounds as if it would be around the bend, is just spicy crab meat and cream cheese, wrapped in cucumber and topped with flying fish roe. I’d have expected more looniness from that name.
And SushiMe Roll’n is on the Keto Diet Crazy — the Keto California Roll is made with cauliflower rice. Because, I guess, real rice isn’t keto. There’s a regular menu too, in case you’re also feeding Aunt Martha from Des Moines…and she isn’t up to a Fried PhillyDilly Roll.
Opus Sushi
1027 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia; 626-447-1027, www.facebook.com/OpusSushi
Situated in an Arcadia strip mall where its neighbors include 101 Noodle Express, Taipan Bakery and 88 Beef Noodle, making it a tasty interloper in a world of culinary Chinoiserie. And it’s very tasty itself. With dishes that are carefully curated and annotated. Thus, we discover that the Hurricane Roll is a deep-fried cut roll with spicy tuna, spicy salmon jalapeño, cream cheese and imitation crab meat, served with unagi sauce and spicy mayonnaise. And that’s just the beginning.
The special rolls run through a bestiary of tasty creations — Red Dragon Roll, White Dragon Roll, Zero Roll, Golden California Roll — and my favorite roll name, the Yakuza Roll, named for the Japanese Mafia. Which is a bit like an Italian restaurant serving pasta Gotti. Only with tattoos instead of hair.
And for variety, there’s a large yakitori section on the menu as well — skewers of asparagus, beef, lamb chop, bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms and even the nasty bits often tossed aside. Like chicken cartilage, chicken knee bone, chicken tail and beef tongue. For those befuddled, “momo” is chicken thigh. And trust me, grilled it all tastes good — though chicken gizzards will never be anything but chewy.
Exotic rolls and yakitori — a fine enough combo to make be trapped at home with the family…at least bearable.

With in-person dining at sushi restaurants not possible for the time being, sushi for takeout and delivery is the next best thing. Here, spicy tuna crispy rice is made with fried sushi rice topped with spicy ahi tuna, sweet soy and avocado mousse. (File photo by Paul Rodriguez)

Tuna is a popular sushi ingredient, as it is here with the Tuna Tower. (File photo by Sam Gangwer)

From left are tuna, albacore, salmon, halibut and seared yellowtail sushi. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka)

Rolled sushi and spring rolls in a variety of options are available for takeout and delivery from local sushi restaurants. (File photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

Sushi n I
201 N. Glendora Ave., Glendora; 626-335-9911, www.restaurantji.com/ca/glendora/sushi-n-i-/
As with so many of our local sushi spots, Sushi n I (shouldn’t it be “Sushi n Me”?) takes a deep dive into the world of the exotic sushi roll. With 70 on the menu, it doesn’t have the biggest collection in town — there are places with more than 100 special rolls to choose from. But it certainly has enough to keep the aficionados of Glendora well occupied with their spicy tuna and shrimp tempura. And yes, with cream cheese too. For in the realm of exotic sushi rolls, cream cheese is an ingredient well respected, and often used. As contrary to the understated sushi aesthetic as it might be. Oh well.
But then, those who love some exotic rolls aren’t especially concerned about the minimalist roots of sushi, sashimi and sushi rolls. Consider for instance the massive, and massively complex creation called the Viking Roll. It’s built out of salmon (both spicy and not), scallops, avocado, tiny orange masago fish roe, scallions and, yes, cream cheese. I’m fairly certain that no Viking ever tasted anything like this back in the day when they were discovering America (long before Columbus got lost trying to find a route to India). But there it is, taking up pretty much a whole plate. And it’s just one of many that are a meal in themselves.
The names alone can occupy you over a long evening of drinking sake and watching all COVID-19 news all the time. Why is a roll of a crabmeat, tuna, salmon, white fish, albacore and avocado a Moon River Roll? Was it somehow inspired by a night spent watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” where it first appeared? The Gangnam Style Roll, named for the global hit by Psy, which in turn is named for the Beverly Hills of Seoul Korea, consists of spicy tuna, spicy crabmeat, shrimp tempura and avocado, not especially Korean or K-Pop. But definitely a lot of fun to eat. Or more precisely, to inhale. Rolls like these aren’t so much nibbled on, as they’re gobbled.
Sushi Kiyosuzu
921 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia; 626-445-4756
This popular destination is run by the parents of Mirai Nagasu, who at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games became the first American woman to ever land a triple axel at the Games. But far as I can tell, there’s just one Olympic reference anywhere in the restaurant. It’s the Olympic Roll, a creation of crunchy burdock root (kimpira), carrots and sesame, with sticky yam (yamaimo), wrapped in a layer of cooked salmon — with a salmon skin “O” on top, for “Olympic.”
A big part of the menu is pretty much old school, with sections dedicated to preset combinations of teriyaki, tempura, grilled fish, pork and chicken cutlets, sashimi and the like, all served with miso soup, a simple green salad and rice. There are rice bowls as well, along with sundry udon dishes, sunomono salads, and a back page sushi menu of nigiri, sashimi, hand rolls and cut rolls — all the old faves, like California Roll, Salmon Skin Roll, and Spicy Tuna Roll.
The Olympic Roll is found on another separate page, “Signature Rolls,” along with Heaven Roll, Dragon Roll, Maki Chan Roll, Godzilla Sea Eel Tempura Roll, Jon’s ABC Roll and more. Which are further defined on yet more separate pages, full color this time, with pictures and (finally) descriptions of the more exotic signature rolls.
Certainly, one could go back in time and order the chicken teriyaki and tempura combination — I mean, why not? But given a choice of that, and the Arai Special Roll of anago (saltwater eel), monkfish liver, avocado, cucumber and smelt eggs wrapped in shiso leaves — well, many of us have moved beyond the safe realm of chicken teriyaki into the happy haven of monkfish liver, chawan mushi and sea urchin.
Like Mirai Nagasu, we like to push the edge. And at Sushi Kiyosuzu, as at the Olympics, we can be well rewarded for the effort.
Sushi Enya
124 E. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena; 626-365-3512, www.sushienya.com
Despite the exceptional quality of the dishes, and the somewhat elevated prices (this is not a budget sushi house), this is still a casual SoCal style sushi bar, with 22 exotic rolls with names like Johnny Scallops, Marilyn Monroe and Green Man. There are even vegan rolls. You want crispy rice topped with a choice of tuna, salmon or yellowtail? They’ve got it — and in my experience, it’s a dish kids love.
Sushi Enya is both semi elegant, and family friendly — a well turned trick. Black cod, much loved thanks to Nobu Matsuhisa, is served with homemade miso sauce. Striped bass gets a hint of lime and sea salt. Halibut is kissed with lime powder, with black truffles, and with yuzu ponzu, after a touch of searing. And on it goes — mackerel with radish and soy, hamachi with ponzu, sweet shrimp served with the heads fried to potato chip crispiness, even seared eel with mascarpone cheese. Cheese with fish in a sushi bar? It sounds heretical, blasphemous even. But then, if Chef Enya says it works, it works.
And, of course, if you want to go from the sublime to the, if not ridiculous, at least a little silly, the special rolls do open up a world of outré creativity. The Caterpillar Roll slinks along with eel, crab salad and avocado. The Lemon Roll gives you a tasty blend of salmon and spicy salmon. The Cherry Blossom Roll is especially busy — spicy tuna, crab salad, tuna, salmon, yellowtail and smelt eggs. Avocado too.
It’s a bit shocking to find a Vegan Protein Roll on the menu — with soy chicken, avocado and vegan mayo — but if that’s what you need, that’s what you’ll get.
Sushi Stop
58 E. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena; 626-405-1518, www.sushistopusa.com
Sushi Stop has grown, from West LA to Hollywood to Encino to Old Pasadena, where the menu is a greatest hits list of sushi, sushi rolls, sashimi, rice bowls, udon bowls, salads and sundry small dishes — though there are a handful of unexpected quirks. Like the salmon sashimi in truffle oil, the Cajun crawfish handroll, and the ever-mysterious Las Vegas Roll (an eel roll topped with spicy tuna and crispy lotus root — which has what to do with LV I do not know).
But mostly, this is a place for familiar orders of the food that for us is as commonplace as pizza and a hamburger; sushi is what we eat, when we want to eat light and good and more or less healthy.
The cooks at Sushi Stop must roll rice in their sleep — what else to do after several hours of non-stop sushi making? Not surprisingly, the dishes that are the best, are the dishes that are simplest. There are 18 standard nigiri sushi items on the menu — and far as I can tell, they’re just fine. The tuna, the salmon, the yellowtail, the two types of mackerel — this is properly cut fish, fresh and sweet, served on dollops of rice that seem a tad sticky, but otherwise are just fine.
The word “spicy” is everywhere on the menu. (One theory is that “spicy” covers a world of shortcomings and inadequacies. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we just like “spicy.”) There’s spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy albacore, even spicy garlic edamame. There’s a spicy tuna guacamole roll, a textural oddity — soft fish with soft avocado made me feel as if I were gumming my food.
And the tempuraed crab and mozzarella was a puzzlement — sort of a messy cheesy thing that left me needing a big swallow of beer. But the spicy tuna on crunchy rice made up for that, with lots of textural fun, and flavor.
Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance dining critic. Send him email at mreats@aol.com.
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