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Sep 19, 2006 06:27 PM

Alameda - Japanese - Sushi - "Sushi House"

Sushi House, on the North shore of Alameda, is a genre breaking restaurant. Top-notch fish, generous portions, fair prices and a broad menu are the key differentiators at this unique eatery.

First, some background. I was eating sushi when sushi wasn’t cool. In preparation for taking a trip to the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, my parents shoveled me and my 5 brothers and sisters into the Vista Cruiser and drove us to Chicago to eat authentic Japanese food.

Raised in Indiana, my idea of exotic was sparkling water. The thought of raw fish was anathema. It’s what you made the kid who reminded the teacher about homework assignments eat. Stealing the occasional dog biscuit was OK, but icks-nay on the ish-fay.

After the histrionics were over (and I’d like to apologize AGAIN to the owners of the Kamahachi Sushi Restaurant in Old Town Chicago), we finally actually tried it. And to this day, every one of us is a huge fan.

I’ve eaten at sushi bars from NYC to Stuttgart. I’ve eaten sushi 500 yards from the Tsukiji fish market in the early morning after it closes. I’ve tucked in at all you can eat joints (NOT recommended), little boat in a moat joints and one place where you don’t order at all (little works of art are brought to you one at a time and are explained to you in excruciating detail before you chow down). I’m no gormet (uni still gives me the creeps), but I know good when I taste it, and Sushi House is better than good.

OK, back to Sushi House. My wife and I were noodling around Alameda and ran into this place at dinner time. What surprised us first is how big it is. It’s the size of a Sizzler. The façade and interior are modern and unfussy. Every time we’ve been there (a dozen times so far) between 5:30 and 9:00 it’s been packed. You sign up for a table or a place at the sushi bar on a sheet of paper and a harried hostess mispronounces your name and leads you to your table. Even at peak times it hasn’t been more than a 15 minute wait.

The menu is multiple pages. They serve all kinds of sushi, but their specialty rolls are a cut above. My favorite of these is the Bay Scallop Roll “crab meat & avocado topped with baked scallops and house special sauce”. It comes out warm and the scallops are perfectly done. That one roll and maybe a hand-roll chaser will do nicely for a meal, as the roll sizes are quite large.

I normally order the Chirashi Sushi "an assortment of Sashimi over sushi rice". For fourteen bucks you get a ton of fish over plenty of rice, some miso and a small Japanese salad. More times than not they throw in some edamame.

I think one of the reasons the fish is so fresh and of such quality is volume. They are serving 150 people (my guess) with a much higher table turn-over than normal. I don’t think anything is left for the next day!

Final tally:
Food: 8 (excellent quality, generous portions, rockin’ specialty rolls
)Service: 5 (they move you along and are far from attentive to things like water)
Price: 5 (low prices for the quality)
Ambiance: 6 (bright and airy, right on the water, but utilitarian)

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  1. The reason it's so big is that the building was originally a Lyon's. I've heard pretty negative reviews of Sushi House, but it sounds like it really depends on what you're looking for. Obviously, you're not going to get personal attention from an expert sushi master, but if that's not your scene, then it's apparently a good (and popular) option.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I agree with the personal service part. Even if you sit at the sushi bar, there is zero interaction with the chefs, who are feeding the 40 tables behind you in the main dining room.

    2. You know, I really like Sushi House too. Although it does get dissed by many on this board, the fish is undeniably fresh. It is admittedly not the quality experience people look for at Kiss or Sushi Sho. But Sushi House is a low budget sushi thrill for me these days. I'm on a tight budget right now but my husband and I have figured out how to get out of Sushi House with full bellies for only $20!!! The rolls are almost the size of burritos. It is my favorite indulgence these days.

      1. although i do like this place. it's not worth the ridiculous wait. cheap well made rolls and a huge selection is their pitch.

        1. Time and time again, I've said to myself that I wouldn't go back. The wait (always over an hour) and the service (terrible) has been tremedous. But we still keep going back. Maybe we're a glutton for punishment but the sushi has been pretty good for a reasonable price.

          1. It's a shame that Sushi House,with its prime South Shore location and obviously quality eats, just can't cope with
            the service issues that continue to give it a notoriously bad rap. A dining room manager with about 10 more waitpersons
            ought to help things, but it's doubtful if the owners would spring for that, so Sushi House continues to drown in its own success. But- there's always Angelfish.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alameda fats

              Skimping on service is probably how they keep the prices low.