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OC Review: SUSHI 5, “Sushi so Fresh it’s Still Moving“

GrindzHound Nov 15, 2006 09:20 PM

SUSHI 5, where the motto should be “Sushi so Fresh it’s Still Moving“, albeit moving on a revolving sushi conveyor that is. Welcome to the Carousel of Nigiri!

This new spot in the City of Tustin serves up a sushi experience that may not be quite so moving as Vivaldi’s Summer, but will satisfy your craving for fresh appetizing seafood at the right price of $2.50 per two piece nigiri order($1.99 Monday through Thursday with coupon, link below). It isn’t fair to compare SUSHI 5 to a full service sushi bar. This type of revolving sushi restaurant is most popular in Japan simply because it’s quick and affordable and that is where SUSHI 5 shines. By the way, SUSHI 5 is Japanese owned and is has the same owner as Laguna Sushi.

SUSHI 5 starts with a mechanically formed piece of nigiri sushi rice and then tops it with a surprisingly fresh piece of fish. No sushi chef here to converse with as he or she?, mysteriously assembles your sushi on the other side of a wall in the kitchen.

Sushi rolls are also available for the same $2.50 price and premium sushi (toro, giant clam) and special rolls are priced at market. Premium nigiri is usually the same price as regular sushi but one piece per order rather than two. Be sure to check out the specials board by the front door. Last week’s specials included two pieces of toro or giant clam per order for the regular price of $2.50, VERY fresh and good, what a steal!

The lunch specials look great. Check them out if you visit, they look like good values. Unlike most Japanese restaurants, lunch is served 7 days a week. This is great for me since I don’t work close by and can hit the lunch specials on the weekends. Specials include $5-$6 donburi bowls, combo plates and a 5 order sushi lunch (10 piece) for $9.99 including salad and miso soup. The miso soup is made from scratch here and I could taste the kombu seaweed and bonito shavings in the dashi broth, which is nice, but it was a bit salty for my taste.

I’ve been to SUSHI 5 several times and here are my observations on the items that I’ve tried.

Salmon Salad: Tasty and generous portion of greens, onions, gobo, salmon skin, avocado topped with katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings) and dressed with ponzu. $6.00

Nigiri sushi Rated Fresh and Tasty:
Yellowtail, albacore tataki, salmon, scallops, giant clam, whelk clam (poorman’s giant clam), squid, unagi, california roll, crunchy roll and dragon roll. These were all good. The scallops include the entire scallop not just the white medallion normally served. This lends more of a scallop/clam flavor.

Nigiri sushi Rated slightly inconsistent, but usually fresh:
The tuna sushi (one time) was not as fresh as I’d like but that was one in over a dozen orders. The freshness rating may seem a bit harsh but this should never happen, especially on what is such a popular high turnover item. I hope that this one time occurrence is just chalked up to being a fairly new restaurant trying to work out the food supply kinks.

Donburi bowl with eggs, chicken and rice with a sukiyaki type sauce, $5.50 good comfort food, lunch only. You might want to ask for "easy on the sauce" and ask for more if needed.

I really like this neighborhood place and have been back 8-9 times. I’ve actually downloaded the coupon so that I can reprint it again. They also give out 10% off dinner coupons with the check. The best thing about SUSHI 5 is that it’s tasty, quick and affordable.

Link to Coupon:

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    GrindzHound RE: GrindzHound Nov 20, 2006 04:05 AM

    Had to update this review, because I just ate at SUSHI 5 on Saturday night and they've remodeled. There now are sushi chefs to be seen! They've opened up the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. The restaurant space is now much more festive and friendly.

    Saturday night's dinner was best we've had here and the toro was especially delicious.

    1. russkar RE: GrindzHound Nov 20, 2006 08:58 PM

      I tried it recently and your right it is really good and especially for the Price which is about HALF what you would pay anywhere else. First Rate Fish for Pennies.

      1 Reply
      1. re: russkar
        kevin RE: russkar Feb 13, 2009 06:55 PM

        really must have missed this joint. is it still around?

      2. g
        GrindzHound RE: GrindzHound Nov 22, 2006 06:48 AM

        russkar, glad you enjoyed SUSHI 5. The owners keep making improvements such as remodeling, adding a 7 day a week lunch menu and the freshness of the fish has actually improved. Last time I was there the toro was excellent, as good or better than any sushi bar I've been to.

        3 Replies
        1. re: GrindzHound
          choctastic RE: GrindzHound Nov 22, 2006 05:53 PM

          what's your average bill and what do you normally get? i'm strapped for cash right now but this looks pretty good. thx

          1. re: choctastic
            GrindzHound RE: choctastic Nov 23, 2006 03:45 AM

            choctastic, We usually spend $32-$34 for two people including tax and tip. I like the salmon skin salad. The edamame is a nice to munch on. The yellowtail, albacore tataki, salmon, scallops, giant clam, whelk clam (poorman’s giant clam), squid, unagi, california roll, crunchy roll, dragon roll, rainbow roll are all good. Contrary to my initial review, the tuna has been terrific.

            We went again tonight and one of the specials was bluefin toro tataki (seared tuna belly) two pieces for regular price. If you want ponzu sauce on some of the sushi such as the albacore tataki, salmon with onions or halibut to name a few you, have to ask for a bottle. By the way, it turns out that you don't need a coupon to get the $1.99 per order on Monday through Thursday night. Tonight there wasn't a Japanese chef when we were there, but the fish is all selected and purchased by the Japanese chef. Sometimes the technique in cutting the fish is not the best by the non-Japanese chefs but the fish is fresh and good, which is the most important part for me. Tonight it was great again. Just can't beat it for $1.99 an order.

            1. re: GrindzHound
              choctastic RE: GrindzHound Nov 23, 2006 04:10 AM

              thanks for the tip!

        2. o
          OCchowman RE: GrindzHound Nov 23, 2006 04:46 AM

          We just ate there last night, and we had a really good time. The sushi was good, especially for the price. The best sushi of the evening was a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth sea eel, this time served with just a bit of salt instead of the usual teriyaki type sauce. Delicious.

          4 Replies
          1. re: OCchowman
            choctastic RE: OCchowman Nov 23, 2006 05:23 PM

            oh wow they had anago? okay now i really need to go here. i don't know how i missed this thread when it was first posted. is the selection decent at lunch? I can't imagine they would sell kumamoto oysters during the lunch deal. The sign said kumamotos were on special for dinner as well as some other stuff which I forgot because i was so shocked they had kumamotos.

            i drove by last night around 4:30 but i guess they weren't open for dinner yet and i didn't see their hours posted so I thought they were closed. argh.

            1. re: choctastic
              GrindzHound RE: choctastic Nov 25, 2006 04:53 PM

              choctastic, we had the Kumamoto oysters last time and they were good. First time I've tried them.

              Also, would appreciate if you post any discoveries not listed on the menu. I'm slowly but surely finding out what other items are not on the published menu. The other day there was an okra appetizer special that I wish I'd tried. I'm not a big okra person but it looked like the typical plate at Honda-Ya.

            2. re: OCchowman
              GrindzHound RE: OCchowman Nov 25, 2006 04:42 PM

              OCchowman, anago is one of my favorites but I haven't tried it here, thanks for the mentioning it. I'll have to try it.

              Using sea salt instead of the teriyaki sauce style may actually be a good sign or maybe just a more tradtional serving style. Sometimes it means that the sushi bar is confident in the quality of the product, because there aren't any strong sauces to cover up any unsavory flavors. Kind of like how some sushi places push the spicy stuff to cover up the flavor older fish, ie. spicy tuna.

              1. re: GrindzHound
                choctastic RE: GrindzHound Nov 25, 2006 08:49 PM

                no anago is supposed to be served w/ salt and unagi comes with the bbq sauce. they're 2 diff kinds of eel.

            3. a
              AquaW RE: GrindzHound Nov 23, 2006 09:20 AM

              Haha, great post title - albeit a bit scary. Thanks for the tip - one more OC possibility for me to explore next time I'm down there.


              1 Reply
              1. re: AquaW
                GrindzHound RE: AquaW Nov 25, 2006 04:45 PM

                AquaW, I wondered if people would get the title, glad you got a kick out of it, lol.

              2. modernist RE: GrindzHound Nov 24, 2006 05:19 AM

                howdy folks. can i get a phone number or address for this place. the usual methods dont seem to be working for me...

                1. choctastic RE: GrindzHound Nov 24, 2006 03:51 PM

                  I was only able to find it in the japanese restaurant guides.

                  Sushi 5
                  13962 Newport Av #D Tustin, CA 92780
                  949 929 5182

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: choctastic
                    modernist RE: choctastic Nov 24, 2006 04:12 PM

                    awesome... thanks!

                  2. choctastic RE: GrindzHound Nov 25, 2006 08:46 PM

                    just came back from lunch. 8 plates, miso soup and a little salad including tip was $20. i was stuffed and that's saying something. the fish quality was surprisingly good for the price.

                    uni was the shocker. you get one piece per plate and it was actually fresh, sweet and as good as anywhere i've gotten within the under $100 price range. i admit i was a little scared when i ordered this.

                    server recommended i get the iwashi and that really good as well. good call

                    hamachi (not the best cut but was quite fresh and equal to more expensive offerings around here.)

                    tai was raggedly cut but the tai itself was of decent freshness and quality. will get again

                    anago wasn't as good as at say shibucho but damn it for $2.5 a piece not bad.

                    amaebi was alright but amaebi is only worth eating at someplace like urasawa where it really is fresh and sweet.

                    the hotate (sacllops) came with this weird sweet sauce and had a weird texture and taste. not getting this again, would rather pay more elsewhere for good scallops.

                    ankimo was covered in this really tart ponzu that overwhelkmed the ankimo which was fine because the ankimo itself was extremeley rubbery el crappo type. won't get this again.

                    if you eat 4 or more plates the price per plate goes down to $2 each. lunch special of 5 plates, miso soup and sald for $10 is better than any other deal i've heard of, esp considering the fish quality.

                    thanks for this rec. this is the first kaiten sushi place i've seen in california that doesn't make me upchuck. i'll be back.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: choctastic
                      GrindzHound RE: choctastic Nov 27, 2006 01:01 AM

                      choctastic, thanks for the feedback. The server recommendations are ususally what I go with too. Today there were two Japanese chefs at lunch time and they recommended the Ahi tuna (from Hilo, Hawaii) and the Japanese hamachi. Both were not just good for a kaiten (revolving sushi) restaurant but were exceptional for any place. The Ahi was REALLY fresh and flavorful and the Hamachi was the same, and was a terrific cut too, very melt in your mouth.

                      We got the $9.99 sushi lunches with salad and miso soup, plus an extra order for $1.99. The total came to $23.67 plus a $5.00 tip. That's $28.67 tax and tip for two, a terrific sushi meal.

                    2. choctastic RE: GrindzHound Dec 1, 2006 11:39 PM

                      I went again today at 1:30 for lunch because i finished an important deadline and i treated myself. The selections were almost as good as usual but they were using up the ends of the fish on some of my nigiri so at least my hamachi looked not as good as last time.. i think i'll try to get there exactly at 12pm from now on. among other things, I had the whelk (v good) and i had blue crab nigiri and while nowhere near as good as my favoritest crab handroll, it actually had blue crab in there, but also a lot more mayo than i usually like. still not bad for $2. my friends got teriyaki beef bento which looked good. i got out of there (w/ 20% tip) for $13.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: choctastic
                        GrindzHound RE: choctastic Dec 12, 2006 06:17 AM

                        choctastic, I like the whelk clam too but I've been having a hard time passing up the giant clam because it's been so fresh and good with just a little lemon and sea salt...really sweet, refreshing and crispy good. I've been back another three times in a couple weeks, mmmmm.

                      2. f
                        frank828 RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 12:13 AM

                        what time does this place close for dinner? i tried the phone number but its just some guys voicemail.

                        1. choctastic RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 01:13 AM

                          yeah they never answer the phone. drove me nuts. dinner hours i think are 5-10:30. i was just there yesterday after a tough day at around 8:30pm. the uni was quite good not quite as creamy as the fattest lobes at the high end joints but still shockingly good and sweet at $2.50. im' sorry i can't get over this. chatted w/ the owner and it turns out he's good friends with hiro urasawa. they're both young guys, both very nice.

                          not a fan of that vinegar they put on the aji and oysters. have had much better kumamotos but not for $2.50 a pair. i've settled on getting the hamachi, tai, whelk, uni, blue crab nigiri, somtimes tamago (cage free eggs) and whatever else looks good.

                          1. f
                            frank828 RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 01:24 AM

                            just found a number for them 714.669.3124

                            they close tonight at 9:30pm. looks like im getting sushi tonight haha

                            cant wait

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: frank828
                              GrindzHound RE: frank828 Dec 13, 2006 01:39 AM

                              frank828, tonight(Monday-Thursday until the end of the month is $1.99 per order). SUSHI 5 really is great addition to the neighborhood.

                            2. z
                              Zadok RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 03:48 AM

                              I have not been impressed at all with the place. There is more revolving signs than food. If you guys want a real rotating sushi bar with actual sushi then its at Kura Sushi
                              212 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA
                              (949) 631-3200

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Zadok
                                quinntran RE: Zadok Dec 13, 2006 02:24 PM

                                I agree with you on this one..... I went based on the rave reviews but it was merely ok.........

                                1. re: Zadok
                                  GrindzHound RE: Zadok Dec 13, 2006 03:41 PM

                                  I too like Kura, but SUSHI 5 is closer for me and the price/value is better, imo. SUSHI 5 has a better variety of full service sushi bar type nigiri selections than Kura. Kura has the standard stuff and the rice isn't quite as good (vinegar seasoning and the rice is a bit overcooked), imo. There are a lot of things that I like just a bit better at SUSHI 5 than at Kura. An example is the hamachi at SUSHI 5 is more consistently the fatty creamy sweet part of the fish (closer to the belly). At Kura the hamachi as frequently from the leaner tail section and can sometimes be so lean that the flavor is more akin to halibut. I do go to Kura if I'm in the area and don't have time to sit down at a full service sushi bar.

                                  The chefs at SUSHI 5 also prefer to put out fewer selections on the conveyor belt, so the customer can order the sushi fresh. I heard one of the sushi chefs comment that he likes to see the customer eat the sushi soon after it arrives when the fish is at it's freshest. At Kura, much of the sushi is made ahead of time and stored (I've personally seen sushi sit behind the counter for more than a half hour), then put out on the conveyor belt when there is room. When I see that, I order a fresh order. I’ve been to Kura maybe 30+ times and SUSHI 5 15+ times. I'm not saying that everything is great at SUSHI 5, but I did have to sample more of the menu to find the best selections just like at any restaurant. SUSHI 5 is not the end all for sushi but it is good for what it is, quick, fresh and inexpensive sushi.

                                  At SUSHI 5 it took me a few visits to know the ins and outs of what to order and how to order, kind of like a neighborhood full service sushi bar. I like that there are more out of the ordinary nigiri selections at SUSHI 5, like fresh Hawaiian Ahi from Kona. Imo, the quality is a bit better at SUSHI 5 and the vibe is more like a neighborhood Japanese pub than Kura, which I like also.

                                  1. re: Zadok
                                    JStandard RE: Zadok Dec 29, 2006 01:19 AM

                                    I had a poor experience at Kura Sushi.

                                    I would have to disagree with the "real rotating sushi bar" piece, no offense, as Kura Sushi puts plastic covers over all of their plates, being the only place that does this out of all the sushi bars I've been to in both the US and Japan.

                                    I may have simply gone on an off night, but the fish was not very fresh, I actually walked out after a few pieces. Even evaluating Kura from a "you get what you pay for" basis I couldn't justify it.

                                    Just throwing in my two cents about Kura Sushi.

                                    1. re: JStandard
                                      Zadok RE: JStandard Dec 29, 2006 12:14 PM

                                      I was actually pleasantly surprised by the cough/sneeze/ Ebola guard of the plastic covers.

                                  2. kingkong5 RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 05:44 AM

                                    I don't like wasabi at all, so I was wondering if the sushi already had wasabi in it? Do you have to request it without wasabi (hard with a conveyer belt I guess), or do all pieces come with no wasabi?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kingkong5
                                      GrindzHound RE: kingkong5 Dec 13, 2006 03:47 PM

                                      kingkong5, the sushi comes without wasabi on it. You don't have to take only the items on the conveyor belt. You can order what you want off the menu and order items not on the menu too. I pretty much order everything freshly made and they are happy to oblige.

                                    2. f
                                      frank828 RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 06:17 PM

                                      went to sushi 5 last night. I dont think its realistic to expect high end sushi at a place like this but i was impressed by the variety and the freshness of the fish there.

                                      It took a bit getting used to the whole conveyer belt but once i did, it was pretty simple. With the few customers that were there last night, it almost seemed like it would have been more efficient just to hand me the sushi.

                                      We ended up with like 24-26 plates between my friend and I, we were hungry haha.

                                      Only thing that i didnt like was that the sushi came out too fast and we were popping them in our mouths non stop. I guess next time we should order less per round. Also there was something wrong with the bottle of sapporo we ordered, i'll have to get it from draft next time.

                                      With our food, a large beer, two miso soups, and two green tea ice creams i ended up paying 80 bucks including tip and tax(big tip tho, probably at least 25%).

                                      Oh another plus is that the waitresses are really cute too hah.
                                      I do plan on returning to this place, but personally i still prefer Maki Zushi in tustin for my regular sushi fix.

                                      1. z
                                        Zadok RE: GrindzHound Dec 13, 2006 06:28 PM

                                        I really like Maki Zushi also. Are they still offering the 20% discount?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Zadok
                                          frank828 RE: Zadok Dec 13, 2006 09:16 PM

                                          yes they are, unfortunately no more buy one get one on the alcohol tho

                                          1. re: frank828
                                            elmomonster RE: frank828 Dec 29, 2006 12:58 AM

                                            Actually, they're no longer offering their 20% discount. I was there on 12/22/06 and I had to pay full price.

                                            They also use white linen table cloths now! At least we know where the extra money is going!


                                            1. re: elmomonster
                                              GrindzHound RE: elmomonster Jan 3, 2007 05:37 AM

                                              I little update, SUSHI 5 has extended the $1.99/order Monday through Thursday, through the month of January. The other day toro was on special again for 2 pieces at the regular price of $1.99! mmmmm.

                                        2. m
                                          maxipad05 RE: GrindzHound Jan 11, 2007 05:46 AM

                                          We just came back from sushi 5 and it was 1/2 hour before closing. So i didn't get a chance to try the toro which everyone has been raving about, everything else i tried was fresh and fantastic. Since we came around closing time, they only had one piece of salmon left and that's my favorite but they were more than happy to add another piece of fish of my choice to complete the dish. To top it off, was great service. They were extremely curtious and nice. When our bill came, they gave us the $1.99 deal that was expired and they gave us 3 dishes for free. I am not sure why they did that but it was really awesome. Excellent sushi and excellent service!

                                          1. p
                                            pinkshch RE: GrindzHound Jan 14, 2007 08:42 PM

                                            Base on CH recommends, a friend and I had decided to try Sushi 5 for lunch. Other than anago sushi, everything else was mediocre (read: Buffet quality). 2pcs of Toro sushi for $1.99? What a great bargain right? Er, not... you really get what you paid for - lets just say, Sushi 5 gives "Toro" a very bad name. If we flow the precedence of Chutoro, Otoro, Toro; then Sushi 5 must be 'ultra discounted' almost didn't make it, I am imitation Toro....

                                            Albeit we arrived a little late for lunch (1:30), but nonetheless, service was excellent. There was a few pieces of Tuna, Tamago, and Ebi nigiris left on the conveyer - so we ordered much of our plates straight from the menu. This consisted of: Amaebi, Uni, Marugai, Toro (wannabe), Hamachi, Halibut, some clams which amounted to 21 plates between the two of us.

                                            Between my friend and I, our total came to $43.00 (21 plates) without ordering drinks and wihtout tip. This was the first time in trying Kuru-kuru sushi (回転寿司) here in the US, and aftering spending $25.00(each) for lunch, we left rather hungry. But, where respect is due, Sushi 5's anago is indeed wothwhile.

                                            1. k
                                              kafaya1 RE: GrindzHound Mar 30, 2008 06:53 PM

                                              based on the rave reviews from this blog i decided to try sushi 5 out. i was a lil dissapointed, every item i tried i was a little let down. i tried the salmon, yellow tail, hamachi toro, crunch roll, baked dynamite, volcano and the scallop, everything my friend and i tried was pretty much average or sub par. even my friend spit one of the items back into her place she really didn't enjoy it. yes, the prices are cheap, but they're cheap because the serving sizes are VERY small. i wouldn't recommend this restraunt to a friend and i wouldn't try this place again. i rated this place 2 out of 5 stars

                                              1. e
                                                ErikaK RE: GrindzHound Apr 17, 2008 04:22 PM

                                                Tried this place with a friend who raves about it. Went a 2nd time about a week later. The nigiri sushi is fine, the yellowtail is good quality, the salmon & tuna are good value. We went early, if they are not busy you have to order stuff before it starts coming around. Didn't try the toro, 1 piece for $2.99. We ordered one of the special rolls (rainbow) and probably wouldn't do that again, pretty small serving (3 pieces) for $4.00. Pretty fun place to take sushi loving kids, fairly average sushi (but good for kaiten-sushi). Stay away from the rolls & stick with nigiri (and cali rolls, they come around often0

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: ErikaK
                                                  GrindzHound RE: ErikaK Feb 13, 2009 03:20 PM

                                                  As the OP, This place is no longer a place I frequent.

                                                  1. re: GrindzHound
                                                    kevin RE: GrindzHound Feb 13, 2009 06:59 PM

                                                    no longer good.???

                                                    i know it's considerably more expensive, actually considerably is putting it lightly, but Sushi Wasabe is great for traditional-inspired omakase meals. I believe it's on Newport Ave.

                                                    1. re: GrindzHound
                                                      Ben7643 RE: GrindzHound Feb 13, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                      Why's That grindzhound???

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