RK Cafe Sushi
334 W. Washington St.Mission Hills619-574-6630
If you're looking for authentic, Edo-style sushi, then RK Café Sushi is not for you. In fact, sushi purists would probably not even consider a lot of what RK serves to be sushi at all. I'm not sure that I do, either, but that's not to say I don't like what it's doing. It would be great if I could afford to eat uni and toro nigiri every time I got a sushi craving, but I can't. And sometimes what I really want are the comforting, co-mingling tastes of sweet sushi rice, spicy wasabi, salty soy and tangy pickled ginger—the fish gets relegated almost to garnish status up against this mix of strong flavors.
The name, RK Café Sushi, was chosen due to lease issues with the space's former tenant, Rice King, and though the large sign on the restaurant touts both Korean and Japanese cuisine, the Korean fare, like bulgogi plates and kimchi soup, that they opened with have since come off the menu, replaced by ramen noodles, mild curries and donburis (rice bowls), here topped with katsudon, fried chicken or pork cutlets, egg, onion and a sweet soy-based sauce. The drink-combo specials—a large sake and large bottle of beer (usual suspects Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi) or two large sakes—for just $5.25 total could explain the jolly, celebratory mood that permeates the place. Even the young sushi chefs share in the merriment (and sometimes your beer). There are some beer-friendly appetizers like tempura, seaweed salad and spicy calamari—tender sautéed morsels in a spicy, homemade hot sauce—but most patrons are here for the sushi rolls.
For their price, the rolls, which start at $3 each and top out at $7 to $9, taste markedly better than Sushi Deli's just up the street, and you don't need to wait in a line for a table to get to eat them. The restaurant also has its own parking lot, another plus. Since the prices are so reasonable, the ingredients are not ultra-deluxe or fancy, but in my experience, they've all been fresh. Most specialty rolls start with a filling of spicy tuna or crab, or, rather, surimi, an imitation crab made from fish paste. Each is given a custom topping of fish and other condiments for variety to different degrees of success.
Ordering some rolls to share, I started with the $7 Sexy Roll and the nightly special called The Big Bang Roll, whose names prompted immediate harassment from my friends. Luckily, most of the ordering, except for drinks, is done by check-marking dishes on a paper menu, so I could just tick them off instead of having to utter the ridiculous titles. But they were both good; the Sexy Roll was fully loaded with a filling of spicy scallops and shrimp tempura with a topping of sliced albacore and avocado, all showered with crunchy panko crumbs. The Big Bang roll was basic but tasty, a California roll made with mildly spicy crab, with slices of red snapper sashimi shingled on top and garnished with shreds of sweet scallion and a homemade ponzu, a citrus-soy sauce. One friend loves raw salmon, which I also prefer over cooked or smoked, so we tried the Pink Roll, spicy tuna inside with salmon sliced on top, drizzled with spicy mayo and sweet eel sauce. The only roll we wouldn't order again was the Try This Roll, (which would be more appropriate with a “Don't” in front of it). The spicy tuna and albacore maki came with a blanket of sweet mango sauce that unfortunately valued fusion more than flavor.Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Would you like your online comment to be considered for publication in our print edition? Include your true full name and neighborhood of residence.