Sushiya, Oakland CA
It was a busy day, so dinner had to be quick and easy for us. Sushi seemed like a good idea. We hadn’t tried a sushi restaurant since relocating to Oakland, and online searching doesn’t show us anything immediately available in our neighborhood. So, we took a drive to Broadway and found lots of parking behind Sushiya. If we lived just a little closer, we would have taken advantage of Sushiya’s popular delivery service.
The thing about quality sushi is that not a whole lot can fill you up. When we walked in we anticipated ordering a few rounds, but we ended up getting only four items, three rolls and two inari. The inari was ideal, sweet and tangy flavors shining through the simplicity of tofu skin and rice.
While studying the menu, our attention was first grabbed by the Kirin roll, with fried soft shell crab, unagi (freshwater eel), and avocado. There was such a variety of textures between the very crispy and crunchy crab, the flaky unagi, and the creamy avocado. Even with two types of prepared meat, not raw, there was no oiliness. Strongly differing from the sweet inari this roll was more umami, a word borrowed from Japanese to describe a pleasant but not salty or sweet taste.
Presented next to the Kirin roll was the New Mexican roll. Again we had creamy avocado, but this time wrapped with shrimp tempura, crab, cucumber, cilantro, tomato, and sriracha. The bite from the cilantro and sriracha helped to highlight the sweetness of the tender shrimp, and the chili flavor of the sriracha fit right in with the other flavors, even the fresh vegetables – we don’t picture sriracha with tomato and cucumber usually, but it works in this combination. The tempura batter was crispy and fried just right, so that it maintained its crispiness even when wrapped tightly with other ingredients.
The name says it – if you’re hungry, try this roll. It is deep fried with a filling of tuna and hamachi (Japanese amberjack aka yellowtail). The crispy exterior was dressed with a sweet sauce drizzled over the top. The filling was very meaty, fresh, and tender. This was a simple roll, but extremely flavorful.
Unlike some other sushi places we’ve been to, what makes Sushiya stand out is that the food is humble, modest, and unpretentious, yet excellent. Artful drizzles on fancy plates are not necessary to impress a palate. Yes, we eat with our eyes, but our tongue has more sway with our taste preferences.