Tuesday, October 20, 2009

RR: Sushi House (Alameda, CA)

If you asked me to eat sushi 10 years ago, I would have flat out said no. "Raw fish? I like my fish fully cooked" would be things I have said. My mom took me to a sushi boat in San Francisco anyway, introducing me to unagi nigiri and reassuring me that not all sushi have raw fish. With slight hesitation, I bit into the freshwater eel and was pleasantly surprised by its tenderness and sweet and savory taste. I must have eaten at least 4 more plates.

Fast forward 5 years later, and Sushi House comes into the picture. Right next to Alameda Beach on Shoreline Drive, this restaurant used to be nestled in a shopping center before it moved to its stand-alone restaurant. With good quality food (note that I didn't say high, but good) at relatively low prices, this restaurant is pretty popular amongst locals. If you don't believe me, you can try waiting for a dinner table during the weekend. Let me know how long it takes to be seated (if you get seated before an hour, you're lucky!). To avoid the crowd, try dining during lunchtime, when service is more friendlier and the atmosphere is more peaceful than during dinnertime. The lunch menu has lunch specials, for those who want to save some mula in their wallet.

I haven't had Sushi House for several months, so I was psyched to eat there again! Here are the highlights from the lunch:
Four fresh oysters in their half shells, served with lemon slices and a tangy "vinegar cocktail" (tastes like a mix between vinegar and cocktail sauce). My first raw oyster was eaten at this restaurant, as their oysters are fresh and clean and served with a tangy sauce! Don't you hate it when you eat fresh seafood, but you suddenly feel yourself crunch (I'm not talking about shells)? It has never happened with these oysters, so they do a great job in cleaning them up!

Fresh salmon sashimi
appetizer atop shredded daikon with wasabi, ginger and small heart-shaped leaves (forgot what they're called!). Their salmon is very fresh and tender, and pairs well with the wasabi. My mom believes that wasabi fights off any leftover bacteria on the sashimi, so she insists that I use a big dollop of it. I do, but the strong sensation I feel in my nose is overwhelming at times. Got a stuffy nose to heal?

The front sushi roll is called
Hella Hot: fresh salmon, white tuna wasabi mayo, spicy sauce, cucumber, avocado and chopped jalapeño peppers rolled in soybean wrapper, topped with spicy tuna, unagi sauce, mango sauce, tobiko and green onions. The back sushi roll is called Island Roll: prawn tempura, crab, salmon, tobiko, cucumber, avocado topped with house sauce. As you read, you can tell that my love for salmon doesn't end with sashimi. I prefer the Island Roll for its sweet and savory taste, as I felt the Hella Hot roll was just plain spicy. A medley of flavors suit my palate better.

Deep fried appetizer: Soft Shell Crab served with a spicy, sweet & tangy vinegar. Doesn't the crab look pretty to eat? It's lightly breaded outside and juicy inside, and pairs well with the sweet vinegar that's spiced with Japanese spice mixture. It's called shichimi tōgarashi ("seven flavor chili pepper") due to 7 ingredients, which includes mandarin orange peel, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, hemp seeds, nori (seaweed) and ground sansho pepper. Crunch away to soft shell crab heaven!

Two more highlighted dishes that I enjoy are bay scallop roll and green tea icecream desserts. Sushi House serves two special rolls that are baked, including bay scallop roll and lion king roll. Lion king roll has baked salmon over CA roll, whereas bay scallop roll features baked bay scallops over crab meat and avocado, topped with tobiko (mini orange beads). The bay scallop roll just melts in your mouth with every bite of its sweet and savory taste! Not every sushi restaurant has bay scallop roll, so it is a must try for this restaurant.

If you still have room for dessert, there are two green tea icecream desserts that I recommend. The first is Green Tea Ice Cream Tempura, which is a fried green tea icecream ball (with tempura batter) atop raspberry sauce. Back then, the size used to be the size of your hands meshed together. Now, the size is roughly the size of your fist. I used to have to share it with someone, but now I feel like I can eat the whole thing by myself, almost. Anyway, it's a great dessert to share with a friend or relative, and I love to enjoy it for my birthday. The second option is Mochi Green Tea Icecream, served in a set of 2. The mochi will satisfy your tastebuds with its powdered, soft and gooey outer layer enclosing cold green tea icecream. Of course, there are other icecream flavors for these options, but I'm sticking to green tea because it's my favorite icecream flavor.

Overall, the restaurant strives to deliver a variety of sushi rolls, appetizers and other dishes. I challenge you to check out the restaurant yourself to sample good quality sushi at below average prices. To learn more about Sushi House, visit http://www.e-sushihouse.com/.

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