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Nov 30, 2009 04:52 PM

Sakae Sushi - great "comfort" sushi in Gardena

I've been going to Sakae Sushi forever as my family went there before I was born, so I guess you could say I've been going there since I was born, so truth be told I do have somewhat of a sentimental connection to the place. It's really old school like Sakura-Ya old school level Gardena japanese food. It's a tiny shop next to Spoon House on Redondo Beach Blvd and Denker (fyi the map on is incorrect). Not sure why I never posted on it, but I picked some up on my trip home for Thanksgiving and while eating thought that I should share it with everyone on chound.

When most people talk about sushi on the boards, they're usually talking about great sushi places like Urasawa, Zo etc. Well Sakae is totally different than those places. I was trying to think of how to describe it and the best way I could think of is "comfort" sushi. I'm a huge fan of specialists as I really like restaurants that make something really well, so you know exactly where to go when you want that specific dish. Sakae sushi does exactly that as they only have 6 sushi items on their menu and that's it. The reason I go there b/c i think they have the best futomaki and inari in LA and their saba sushi is outstanding as well. One note about all of their sushi is that the rice is rather sweet compared to most sushi places although I like it and I think it compliments the sushi well.

The 6 things on their menu are:
- inari: inari is a fried tofu skin pouch that has been marinated in a semi-sweet sauce that I believe has mirin, sugar, soy sauce and dashi. It's filled with sushi rice. You normally see these in the japanese markets in their prepared food section, but those don't taste nearly as good as Sakae which I think makes the best Inari in LA. The rice is very fresh and the tofu skins they use are marinated just perfectly.
- tamago maki: the tamago maki is a futomak rolli that instead of having nori (dried seaweed) as the outside layer it has thin layer of tamago (a semi-sweet cooked egg omelette) layer on the outside. If you haven't have it before, futomaki is a roll filled with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, tamago (although in this case the tamago is on the outside) and kampyo (which I believe are pickled)...they are great when done right and Sakae does my favorite version in LA
- nori maki: this is the same as the tamago maki except the outside is nori instead of tamago and it will have a piece of tamago as part of the filling (the tamago maki does not have any)....again it is excellent and in my opinion the best in LA
- saba sushi: saba sushi is a marinated mackerel sushi (the mackerel has been marinated in vinegar). My grandmother said that traditionally you were supposed to have white meat, a bit of dark meat and some skin on each piece. Well this is the exactly how they do it at Sakae, I really like their version, the fish is just right and goes great with the rice
- ebi sushi (cooked shrimp): i'm not really a huge fan of ebi as I find it rather plain and that's the same here although I will say it's better than most since the shrimp tastes fresher
- california rolls: in all my many times of going there this is the only thing i've never tried b/c i'm not really a fan of california rolls

Along with Sakura-Ya (manju place) I think this is one of my favorite old school Gardena japanese spots. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend picking up a box for yourself. Btw the price is great, I usually get the 8 piece box for $6.15.

Yelp has a ton of pics:

Fyi, Sakae is take-out only and I normally get it only my way to or from LA and I usually call my order in ahead of time.

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  1. I'm also a huge fan of this place. Not only is their sushi fresh, delicious, and affordable; it's also such a charming store!

    I took a big box of their sushi to my sister's birthday party and it was a huge success! My favorites are the CA roll (yes, its not real sushi, but it tastes good) and the nori maki.

    1 Reply
    1. re: young_chower

      yah the people who run it are quite nice and we've done the same in the past, get a big box for a family party...i'm sure their CA rolls are good, but i have a hard time passing up the inari, nori maki, tamago maki and saba sushi

    2. yes, this place is one of a kind.....i am not a real bona fide sushi eater.....just the basic ones and no exotics for they fit me just fine and once a week (usually tuesday, they are closed mondays), i usually order seven pieces by phone, i pick it up, go to marukai market food court across the street, order a pork based noodle soup from shinsengumi (hakata ramen) and i indulge on two very unique quality japanese foods that is hard to beat.....why seven pieces?....because seven is the minimum before they place it in a box....less, you get it wrapped in a plate-like container ....weird combo but i like it.....also excellent as a party appetizer.....dont forget you cant eat there.

        1. re: flylice2x

          i believe their considered strong suit is their sushi the OP said, it's a tad sweeter/vinegary than most others i have tasted making it more to my liking ......

          an acquaintance (formerly from gardena) once told mein passing that their sushi ricemaker's sole job was coming in the morning to prepare the sushi rice for the day and leave shortly after. i also find that their consistency to be very dependable..

          1. re: jaymor

            oh that is the other thing, the place is super consistent, i don't ever remember the sushi tasting any different from visit to visit and i've been there countless times over the years

        2. California rolls are fantastic. That's the only thing we get there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chandavkl

            you should try the other sushi, its very good

            1. re: Lau

              Actually we started out with the inari and nori years ago, but the California roll was so much better that we get that exclusively now.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                wow i guess ill have to try one...i love futomaki and inari and saba sushi, but ill order a couple next time

          2. Love this place as well. It's meant to be eaten at a later date rather than immediately so they prep their sushi rice differently. More vinegar, and pressed rice giving it a chewy consistency.