First off I have to say I'm slightly embarrassed to say that this was truly some of the best Japanese/sushi I've ever had. Take this as you wish, this is coming from someone who truly enjoys the art and has eaten at some the the best in the world. I am also not fond of giving 5 stars to a Japanese/sushi bar.
AMBIANCE: The restaurant is located in a nondescript strip mall. When one pulls up the first thought that runs through your head is "where the heck am I going to eat raw fish??? The parking lot is dim, there is an Indian restaurant to one side and a smoke shop on the other. When you first walk in you notice that they truly care about the Japanese culture. From tables to traditional Japanese private floor seating to the simple colors and wall coverings it is clear that their main emphasis must be on the food.
SERVICE: As many if not all the reviews on here have described the service as poor at best, I however did not experience this. The restaurant was about half full. The waitress was quiet yet friendly. My sake glass never sat empty more then a few minutes nor did an empty plate sit in front of me for very long. I personally enjoyed the alone time with my food as I had the pleasure of watching the chef cook in front of me.
FOOD: Considering that I knew a bit about this restaurant before I even walked into the doors (and no it wasn't from reviews solely) I knew and hoped that I would experience food magic... Boy-O-Boy was I not disappointed! I left it to the chef to choose my courses, this is a custom I am fond of at specialty restaurants. Most of the items I was told would be coming from the chefs specials and favorites.
1ST COURSE: Ankimo (Monkfish liver) - I have to admit, this is one of my guilty passions. There is something so right about eating the rich taste of monkfish liver, and this dish did not disappoint. The ankimo was plated as two thick slices, topped with ponzu, green onions and a small but satisfying taste of roe.
2ND COURSE: Broiled Sea Whelk (sea snails) - This is the first time I have enjoyed whelk outside of the UK and Europe. The plate came with 4 whelks still in their shells, lightly seasoned then broiled. This was a unique surprise that I was happy to see the chef serve, as it is very unlikely that I would have ordered this on my own.
3RD COURSE: Mixed Sashimi - Extremely well cut and plated... freshness of the fish is always my number one concern when it comes to raw fish, I didn't have a single worry about this here. As I watched the chef meticulously prepare my plate a few feet in front of my, I wouldn't help myself from salivating. I am a huge believer in letting the chef do their art and at no time am I going to mess up some superb fish with added soy sauce. With the last statement being said, I truly enjoyed my fish as it was intended: RAW both in cooking style as well as choosing to not add condiments.
- Yellowtail Toro - Melt in your mouth goodness. Toro is always one of my favorite parts of the fish and for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, most places seem to mess it up, not here. The fish was not freezing nor warm. The color was a perfect medium pink with the usual white marbling wanted in a piece of tuna belly. Did I mention that it melted in my mouth!
- Yellowtail (hamachi) - I was told by the chef that this was flown in from Japan, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Hamachi was my first love, truly was. I still remember having my first bite and thinking it couldn't get any better. Well... 20 something years later and it has. This was some of, if not the best hamachi I have had to date. A perfect mix of light colors to your typical pink at the top.
- Geoduck - This was unique as my sushi adventures go. By no means is this the first time that I've had geoduck, but by far the first time I've had it at a Japanese restaurant. I was expecting your typical clams when I saw my plate, but was shocked when the chef explained what it was. My shock continued as I ate my first bite. It was a nice change from the typical sea clams that you typically get with sashimi. Much like you would expect, it is a bit tough and slightly chewy. Luckily the chef knows what he is doing with a knife, before it is plated he takes the time to score the clam and ever so slightly flatten it with the side of his knife. This was a needed change from the rich favors of the tuna.
- Uni (Sea Urchin) - Typically outside of coastal areas I try to stay away from eating sea urchin. As I had enjoyed everything thus far and the chef had prepared it for me (would you go to grandmas and not eat the food she has taken time to prepare for you) I scooped up the Uni and ate it. To my surprise it was good. Not as salty (fresh ocean water) taste as I typically like, but none the less a very good specimen.
- Fluke (flounder) - Thinly sliced almost see through. Great, that is really all I can say.
4TH COURSE: Yummy! Don't remember exactly what I was served, but I was not disappointed!