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Yen Sushi & Sake Bar - Wilshire Near Barrington - WorseThan Crazy Fish

Tonight I made the serious mistake of venturing into something called "Yen Sushi & Sake Bar" in a minimall on Wilshire between Barrington and Bundy (same minimall as Subway and a truly awful Asian all you can eat buffet restaurant). Yen is apparently part of a chain that also uses the name "California Roll & Sushi Fish."

I had never tried Yen before because the menu (which is outside the restaurant) does give you an idea of what you are in store for -- you have a choice of "Fresh Roll" (all of which contain avocado - I guess they think all Americans love avocado), "Baked Roll" or "Tempura Roll." However, I was working late, was starving and desperate for something. How bad could it be?

The restaurant is rather nice inside given the neighborhood (I'm not saying it's beautiful - it's just that it is a definite step up from the Subway, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken that litter this part of West L.A.). But the sushi was vile and not exactly cheap given the poor quality.

I had two rolls, each $11.50 each (I had them hold the avocado - perhaps I am the only American who doesn't like avocado - in my sushi or otherwise). The first was a "Spicy Tataki Roll" which consisted of chopped up tuna, with rice on the outside, which was then layered with mushy slices of bright pink tuna in some kind of sweet sauce. It was as bad as it sounds. The other roll was allegedly a scallop roll, but I'm not sure it was really scallop, as opposed to some imitation fish meat. This was also layered on the outside with the same bright pink mushy tuna.

I'm sure that the tuna was the color it was because it had been sprayed with carbon monoxide (CO) to try to mask exactly how unfresh it was. CO-treated tuna is apparently the dirty little secret of inferior sushi bars like Yen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/06/din...
http://www.coastalseafoods.com/about/...

CO as an additive to fish has been banned in Japan, Canada and the European Union, but the FDA claims it's perfectly safe.

The only people in the restaurant were young 20-somethings. I guess the food must be a slight step up from the dorm cafeterias at the colleges that they recently graduated from.

For some reason, I don't think the restaurant is Japanese-owned. It did not have a Japanese feel or aesthetic. I actually saw some food whizzing by adorned with little paper umbrellas - reminded me of "Polynesian" food I ate as a child.

It's safe to say that I won't be returning to Yen. I really hate working in the Wilshire/Barrington corridor. If you don't want to get into your car to go get something to eat, I think it may be the single worst neighborhood in L.A. chow-wise.

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  1. Thanks for sparing me the trip! I was considering it since it changed its name. I guess that's all that changed.

    That strip on Wilshire is pretty bad. I suggest you try India's Oven which is a block East of Barrington on Wilshire (above Tony Maroni's Pizza in the World Savings building, I think). Also Fish Grill isn't bad. The walk to San Vicente for Takao's lunch special is probably worth it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bromion

      it's called tantra's india's oven and is in the city of hope building, directly west of the world saving's building. and i agree, the food is darn good!

    2. Funny, I was considering trying this place... I run by it daily, and wondered if it would be any different than the California Roll and Sushi that occupied the space before. Interesting that you say it's the same chain, so it seems that all they did was change the name to garner new and more attention?

      I wish that Foodies hadn't gone--the most decent quick, healthy food on the block before... Haven't yet tried Enzo & Angela...

      And you are not the only American to despise avocado; I don't like it on its own, in sushi, in guacamole (though every person tries to get me to try it because *their's* is different... is it made from avocadoes? i'm not gonna like it but thanks)... I do not not like it on a train, I do not like it on a plane; I do not like that light green mush...

      4 Replies
      1. re: Emme

        And here I thought I was the only American who didn't like that green mush known as avocado!

        Yep, California Roll and Sushi and Yen Sushi and Sake Bar are one and the same. In fact, I'm just going over my credit card statement and the charge is listed as from California Roll and Sushi. I have a new theory that if a restaurant has the word "California" in its name, it must be medicore food for the masses -- California Pizza Kitchen, California Chicken Cafe, California Pita Kitchen and, of course, now California Roll and Sushi come to mind.

        I've tried Enzo & Angela a couple of times. Always wanted to like it, but never did.

        1. re: omotosando

          I don't know if I can agree on your theory there, but I'll go with you that sushi places shouldn't have "California" in the name... CPK has decent salad options; CCC has good clean chicken and butternut squash puree...

          FWIW, Paula Poundstone made some joke about how she doesn't like nuts, and she thought that the difference between her and nut eaters was predilection towards the Rep party and Bush Sr.... I'm convinced there's a fundamental difference between me and avocado eaters, just not certain yet what they're trying to convert me into...

          1. re: Emme

            Yeah...sushi was bad..at California Roll...the rolls I ordered there were always deep fried tempura rolls or the "NY Steak Roll". The rolls weren't bad for rolls...if i recall correctly, it was a Korean staffed (probably owned) sushi joint..hence the ahem, fusion.

            Probably made it to sound more aunthentic...maybe people would be looking for sasabune and get confused?????

            1. re: Xericx

              The deep-fried roll is indeed the secret to enjoyable meals at a sub-par sushi restaurants.

      2. Honestly, I didn't think this place was horrible. I've had really good sushi in my day, and this place is pretty overpriced and not as good as Asakuma (up the block), but it's not as terrible as omotosanda says! In fact, it's zagat rated at a 23 - not too shabby! Also, as for what he or she said about Brentwood - I don't understand, is he/she used to eating gourmet meals for lunch everyday?! Try working in Torrance for a year...

        1 Reply
        1. re: oceanus1984

          Unless you count the Sawtelle corridor as part of Brentwood, I would MUCH rather eat in Torrance.

        2. If you just drop down to Santa Monica Blvd. you can have a Oaxacan fix at Monte Alban.

          1. Man~ you dont know about sushi...
            this place was one of the best places i've ever been to. I went to Japan few years ago and this place made them like real japanese ones.
            i recommand to stop by if you want taste authentic japanese food.
            i think this is the only place around the neighborhood to eat and not regret.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jp0709

              you crack me up. last i checked, there is no such thing as california rolls or philly rolls in japan. yen is a 3 max on a scale of 1-10....wiht 10 being very good sushi/sashimi.

              yen is palatable at best....if you want real sushi on the westside, go to mori, sushi zo or echigo.

            2. Yeah, pretty much the only decent options at night are Baja Bud's and Fatburger. However, you're walking distance from a stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. that actually has some decent options on the low (Le Saigon) and high (Nook) ends.