Chow Bella

Cafe: Yen Sushi

We weren't always into sushi, but we loved Japanese fried chicken. During a year-long stint in the land of the rising sun, we would often drive our Daihatsu Mira (think of it as a mini Mini) to this tiny sushi shop to order karaage, which this particular shop served with a tiny saucer of crushed black sesame and salt for you to dip the still warm chicken into.

One day the chef chided us for always ordering the chicken and said we had to try his sushi next time. It was a transformative experience. Tender pieces of sushi topping perfectly vinegared rice melted in our mouthes.

We're a long way from that sushi shop now, but luckily a few Valley shops can satiate our desire for the raw stuff. Check out this week's cafe column about Yen sushi and see what we mean.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Yen Sushi:

Sushi and sashimi comprise most of the menu, but that makes for a much broader selection than you might imagine. At Yen, there's equal emphasis on traditional and nouveau raw fish dishes, both done with finesse. I was perfectly content to slurp up thick, silky slices of yellowtail and buttery salmon sashimi -- the portions were generous, the fish was pristine -- but on another night, I really enjoyed an appetizer plate of yellowtail sashimi dressed up with sliced green chile, dots of sriracha, and tiny cilantro leaves.

Old-school nigirizushi was served in bite-sized pieces (as it should be) rather than ginormous slabs, and was competently prepared, from lightly marinated saba (mackerel) and tender amaebi (raw shrimp served with deep-fried heads on the side) to compact, nori-wrapped rice balls overflowing with mild, creamy uni (sea urchin)...full story

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Jonathan McNamara