I’ve never understood the point of expensive sushi. When you get down to it, they’re all pretty much using the same ingredients with similar results. So when I ended up grabbing dinner at Hara Sushi in Santa Monica, I was a bit excited. Why? Because their sushi is always half-priced. And, they have a happy hour until 9:30 pm with some pretty cheap beers. So for once in my life, sushi sounded like a good time.
As soon as we were seated, we were presented with bowls of miso soup. It was a good start, but then as we looked at the menus we learned that not all was perfect in the land of Hara. As it turned out, those half-price sushis only applied to non-rolls. This felt like a bit of tease, especially considering everything interesting came in roll form. Fortunately, the rolls still kept themselves at a reasonable price. I chose the Titanic roll. Loaded with fried shrimp, then topped with spicy tuna and a chili sauce, this sounded great, but I feared it wouldn’t be enough food. To be safe, I ordered two more dishes from the half-price menu. One was the smoked salmon and the other was the crab, real crab.
When these things arrived, it was clear that the half-price sushi was not a winner. With two pieces each, these were hardly worth the price and simply didn’t taste very good. The Titanic, however, sank beautifully into my mouth. The crunch of the fried shrimp (tempura) added a nice complexity to what could have been just some more droll sushi. The spicy tuna was also nice and created a good balance with the shrimp. The chili sauce wasn’t exactly spicy, but it did add some nice flavor and made the roll taste good even without soy sauce and wasabi. Of course, I still dipped the pieces in those, but I didn’t feel the need to.
While the crab and salmon were disappointing, I have to say I was pretty happy for the included miso soup. And then, when we thought we were done, out came green tea ice cream, also included in our meals. This was some of the strangest green tea ice cream I had ever had – mainly because it hardly tasted like green tea. Instead, it was a strong vanilla ice cream that had just a hint of green tea flavor. I like my green tea strong though, so while I was happy this was included, I would have liked it to hold true to its name a little better.
So here’s the deal with Hara Sushi. Don’t get excited about the half-price because those pieces of fish just aren’t worth it. But if you like some rolls and beers for a pretty good price, it is not a bad place to get some raw fish inside you.