I really had a hankering for Japanese food, so I suggested my brother and sister find a place to eat after my long drive from SF back to So Cal. My sister suggested Haru Sushi Cafe which she said had good rolls but wasn’t necessarily known for their fish, per se. It sounded good to me. I was so hungry by the time we arrived, and all of us were ready to eat. Unfortunately, the lighting in the restaurant was very poor so most of the pictures did not turn out as good as I had hoped. It’s a little disappointing, because the rolls in particular were very tasty.
It took quite a bit of time for the food to start coming out… actually, it was painfully slow the whole night, so they brought us out some edamame to nibble on. We ordered the grilled black cod to start off. It wasn’t very good. I think the fish itself had a blah sort of taste. I don’t know if the fish itself might have gone bad or they had over-marinated it or something, but it just didn’t taste very good. Pdho even mentioned that my version of the same dish tasted better. If you know Pdho, you know that means a lot! Nevertheless, I was anxious to get started on the rolls and sushi…. which seriously took forever to get to our table.
Most of the nigiri we ordered was very good. We had some yellowtail, salmon, Spanish mackerel, albacore, toro and scallop. Unfortunately, I think they were seriously running out of sushi, because they kept coming bringing us the sushi with one order short and apologizing for having only one order left. Nevertheless, all the sushi was pretty tasty and fresh. I was especially pleased with the Spanish mackerel and albacore which I thought were a tad bit more memorable in taste. Unfortunately, I only really got a shot of the albacore, but it really was probably the most interesting in terms of presentation. That is the problem with sushi though…. I know when I’ve had good sushi, but pictures of sushi all pretty much look the same and the tastes can be hard to distinguish or at least remember well enough to describe at a later time. So you’ll notice many of my entries don’t go into much detail about the different types of sushi, because I can’t remember them all, at least not individually.
The rolls are a little bit easier to remember, and most of the rolls we ordered were pretty good overall. We ordered three rolls and a carpaccio dish for the six of us. We were probably more than a little hungry afterwards especially poor Dumpling Man, but the sushi chefs look seriously beaten up by the crowd that evening so we decided not to inflict further pain.
The San Vincente had crab, spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado and smelt egg wrapped in soy paper. I like how they used soy paper instead of seaweed. There’s a cleaner taste to the roll so you can taste more the variety of flavors filled inside the roll itself. From the description, it definitely sounded a little hodge podgey… and it was, but it still tasted pretty good.
The Albacore Onion was a spicy tuna roll covered with albacore and topped with lightly fried onion strips. I think was probably my favorite of the three rolls. I mean how much better can it get than spicy tuna and albacore in one bite? The scallions and fried onions provided some nice contrast to fishiness of the albacore. I really love albacore. It has slowly replaced salmon as my favorite sashimi ever since I tasted my first albacore at Iron Chef House in Brooklyn Heights. There hasn’t been a place that has prepared albacore the same way, but I still like it everywhere else I’ve had it. It has yet to fail me.
The Incredible was filled with spicy tuna and avocado wrapped with seared salmon drizzled with a mayo and sesame dressing. My brother gave me a hard time saying I chose another creamy dish, as if it tasted bad, but despite the mayo-based dressing, I thought the miso flavor was delicious. Again, spicy tuna is always a nice basis for a roll, but I liked the salmon addition to this one as well.
Lastly, we had a carpaccio of thinly sliced yellowtail sashimi topped with jalapeno and a homemade ponzu sauce mixed with olive oil. This dish was a little disappointing. I’ve had other takes on this type of preparation with the fish, and the sauce or seasoning on top of the fish is usually better. I also found the yellowtail sashimi to be off. It didn’t taste like the yellowtail nigiri we had and it also had a more opaque look to the fish. It was odd.
Overall, Haru Sushi Cafe is a fine restaurant that serves some quality food. I think we probably went on an uncharacteristically crowded night where the chefs were overworked and the sushi was running low. The waitresses were extremely nice though and kept apologizing for the delay. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always noticed that there is a way about Japanese people. I don’ t know if it’s just the way they talk or how the language sounds, but they sound so gosh darn polite and sweet… almost too cute. So when they talk to you, you can’t help but smile. It really is hard to be angry with them. So they do get some points of service. Although I liked the food, I can’t say it was anything amazing. They serve good food in an intimate albeit dark setting, and it is definitely worth trying once. You won’t be disappointed but you won’t be amazed either.
Haru Sushi Cafe
480 S San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
PAFO Ratings for Haru Sushi Cafe:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars