Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yanagi Japanese Bistro- Redondo Beach, CA

Now, I have been a sushi addict pretty much since I could chew, so finding a sushi restaurant for date night was no easy task. To whet Bobby's appetite while I went through Yelp and Urban Spoon to find just the right place, I made him some edamame with a home made sauce: soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced ginger, green onions, lime, and a bit of honey... oishii!

I finally decided on Yanagi Japanese Bistro, and could not have made a better choice. The restaurant is family owned and operated, and you can definitely feel that. The sushi chefs all greet you when you enter the small (but lovely!) space. Everyone was incredibly friendly. Our server was a younger guy who was very patient with us when choosing our sake; helped explain the points rating (for sweet vs. dry) and gave his recommendation for what he thinks we'd enjoy. He was right. 

Sake it to me, baby (Photo taken by me)

This was only the third or fourth time I have had sake, and I absolutely loved it. This bottle is the Kikusui Junmai Ginjo. It was very mild but still flavorful, and accompanied  our sushi perfectly. The 300 mL was perfect for two people, too.

The restaurant is fairly dark, but nicely decorated. There was great music playing, good remixes that I was familiar with, but I acknowledge it might not be for everyone. It was pretty busy, but still quiet enough to not have to yell over everyone to talk, which happens a lot at some restaurants. Bobby and I had lots of great conversation and laughs throughout our dinner!

We had the "yummy crispy" appetizer to start. It was tuna, albacore, red onion, tomato, masago, mixed with spicy mayo and garnished with avocado and cilantro served on top of a crispy, flat wonton. It was quite good, though the mayo kind of overwhelmed the fish. They could honestly just do a little ponzo and it would be just as perfect. I put soy sauce on mine. It was kind of tough to eat because the wonton would crack and spill precious fish, but so darn delicious I didn't care.

We ordered the maguro, hamachi, and sake (tuna, yellowtail and salmon) sushi. The cuts of fish were huge, fresh, and downright delicious. The highlight for me was definitely the yellowtail. It was stunning. Buttery and fantastic. 

We devoured the whole roll before we could even get a photo. Dragon Roll. (Photo taken by me)

The dragon roll consisted of crab, avocado, and cucumber, topped with eel, avocado, and eel sauce. I've had dragon rolls before, and what was standout for me was the amount of eel they used to top it. You'll note in the photo only the two roll slices... that's because Bobby and I enjoyed the rest before I could remember to take a photo! There was a TON of eel on there, which is easy to skimp on and simply do avocado. There was a cut easily bigger than your average sashimi piece covering the end piece, which just goes to show they really want to feed their customers well. There was also a light eel sauce across the top, but plenty on the plate for dipping. Eel sauce is my favorite, so I was excited they didn't skimp on that either. Really, really good.

We then had the calamari tempura roll: calamari tempura, crab, avocado, cucumber, with a crunchy outside and eel sauce. I really, really regret not taking a picture of this. The entire roll was topped with calamari tempura, the size of about a small appetizer's worth. The calamari was light, fresh, and perfectly fried. This was one of my favorite rolls I've ever had.

The Playboy Roll. Bobby's favorite! (Photo taken by me)

After we finished our sushi and rolls, we decided to go for just one more. This one was Bobby's find: The Playboy Roll. The Playboy Roll is shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and cucumber, topped with salmon, avocado, and mustard sauce. The salmon, as you can see in the photo, wasn't skimped on either. This roll was much more creamy and rich than the others, partially because of the cream cheese, partially because all of the ingredients are richer in nature. I really liked this one too, and the sauce was really interesting... almost citrusy? It's listed as a mustard sauce but it didn't taste super mustardy. The citrus definitely helped balance the richness of the roll. 

At home, in landlocked Colorado, I am lucky enough to have Sushi Den and Izakaya den just a few minutes drive from my home. I am so jealous Bobby has Yanagi just a few minutes drive away here in Redondo. This would (WILL!) absolutely be my go-to spot if I lived (WHEN I EVENTUALLY LIVE!) here in California. 

The service, might I add, was outstanding. Every server was very polite, sweet, and made sure we were satisfied with our food. We didn't get waters right away, but once we did, they were very consistent with refills.

Yanagi is awesome, and I highly recommend it!

Yanagi Japanese Bistro is located at:
2400 Artesia Boulevard  Redondo Beach, CA 90278
(310) 372-6500

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