The Unvegan

Recent Posts

10 Years of Unvegan
A Quick Bite at Burrito Express
Serendipity at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Twerks and Burritos at Casa Amigos


Japanese for Real at Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi

Drunk or not, this looks awesome.

For too long have I been subjected to people who believe the beginning and end of Japanese food is sushi. While living in Japan for half of a year, I believe I ate sushi once. This was not because I was avoiding sushi, but because sushi just wasn’t as prevalent as we are led to believe. Sure, you can find sushi if you are looking, but it is not as though every corner has a sushi place. Rather, it is much more common to find ramen. This isn’t your Cup O Noodle college hangover ramen, but a real, hearty bowl of broth with noodles, meat and more. Recently, some coworkers of mine were heading out to “that ramen place” in Gardena for lunch and I joined them, fingers crossed that this place would be the true Japanese food I’ve been waiting for.

Not Quite Sushi at Kaya Sushi

If it weren't for those tomatoes...
If it weren’t for those tomatoes…

When you walk into Kaya Sushi, there is a massive glass waterfall blocking your way. Do not be deterred, though, because you can easily circumvent this waterfall by walking to the left or right. If you make it past, you’ll find yourself in the posh new sushi restaurant in El Segundo.

The place had an apparent brush with Korean as well as Japanese, since the lettering in their logo was distinctly Korean and there were even a few Korean items on the menu. Their sushi roll list was quite extensive, but I managed to find the least sushi-ish dish on the menu for myself.

A Couple Rolls at Sushi Mashiko

Why would anyone want cucumbers?
Why would anyone want cucumbers?

Despite my not being the biggest fan of sushi, I found myself at Sushi Mashiko in Culver City one night to once again eat some raw fish. Sushi Mashiko was in a very nondescript location in a strip mall without any real sign. I only found it when I looked inside each store front and saw a small sign with the word “Sushi” on it. The place was supposed to be really great, so instead of ordering some sort of chicken or noodle dish, I decided I may as well test out their sushi.

After a long look at the menu sushi menu, I decided on two decent-looking rolls: softshell crab and tuna avocado. Since I would be the only one partaking in my personal sushi, I ordered mine uncut so I could turn the sushi into finger food.

Hide Sushi

Check out those pieces with just fish. Yeah. Those are mine.
Check out those pieces with just fish. Yeah. Those are mine.

As a warning, I am not one of those people who gets crazy cravings for sushi or thinks of sushi as some amazing dish that has to be eaten weekly. In fact, I am still waiting for the “sushi fad” to fade away like Pogs, skateboarding and the pet rock did years ago.

Despite this, I found myself in need of an afternoon snack in that crazy Japanese strip of West LA. My friend recommended Hide Sushi, and I complied. My unvegan diet doesn’t leave too much room for sushi, especially if you consider seaweed a vegetable, so I avoided the rolls and ordered the basic yellowtail over rice from the menu.

Sushi doesn’t take too long to make, so I didn’t have to wait too long to fill my mid-afternoon void. I filled my little bowl with soy sauce and a healthy dose of wasabi before dipping my sushi in.