Take a quick retreat from Ventura Boulevard by strolling into Yen Sushi and Sake Bar for some surprisingly delicious dishes. The small storefront restaurant is sleekly stylish and simply appointed, with wood floors, concrete-toweled walls, and a dozen heavy wood tables and chairs (which prove to be a tad bit uncomfortable on the backside). Thick bamboo pieces grace the entryway, after which the focal point of the restaurant is the sushi bar. As you walk in the door, a transformation begins and the friendly sushi chefs and wait-staff greet you immediately (all in Japanese, though we later found out they are predominantly from Korea).

The calming environment immediately sets the tone for a delightful assortment of sushi, nouveau Katsu-ya style semi-cooked sushi and traditional Japanese items. If you toast the chefs with a cup of saki, they will get very creative with their offerings. Michael adores sushi, so he gravitated to the Spicy tuna roll ($5.50), yellowtail ($6) and freshwater eel ($4.50), both of which delivered on freshness and taste. Scott doesn’t like sushi at all (“unless it’s cooked”); however, that said, their specialty of the house, the crispy rice with spicy tuna ($9.50), proved to be absolutely out of this world and worth braving the world of slimy uncooked things.

Make sure to start your meal with their miso soup, which is always tasty, and the “yummy-yummy crispy tuna” (that’s their name, not ours) appetizer ($8.50), which was just that. We recommend following with the broiled salmon steak with teriyaki sauce entrée ($17), which comes with a side salad and a tasty sprinkling of sticky white rice. Also worth noting is the pan-roasted lobster tail ($25). Unfortunately, we discovered that the wine selection is very limited, so we recommend bringing your own selection and paying a minimal corkage fee, which appears to be negotiable as it was presented to us as somewhere between “$10 to $15” (we paid $8).

Most nights are quite busy, and at times waiting for a table is mandatory. Monday nights are much slower, but the tranquility is interrupted by a flat-screen television screaming Monday night football. If you can get past a bunch of sweaty men in tights pouncing on each other (which, don’t get us wrong, can be of fun), and wish to bring your own wine, this little find on Ventura Blvd. (near Coldwater) will lure you back for meal after meal.

The Scene: A yen for zen
Cuisine: Traditional Japanese and more
Must-try: Crispy rice with spicy tuna
Star rating: 2.5
Average cost: Entrées range from $15-$26

Yen Sushi and Sake Bar
12930 Ventura Blvd. #120
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 907-6400
Other locations in Century City and Belmont Shore, Long Beach

Posted by The Dining Duo | 3:28 PM | , , , , | 0 comments »

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