WA SUSHI & IZAKAYA
ADDRESS: 1132 N Garfield Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91801
My friend Michele and I were in the mood for sushi one night that we were hanging out, so we decided to hop onto Yelp to look around for a spot to try. After going through a few different places, we eventually settled on Wa Sushi in Alhambra, since their menu looked pretty extensive and the reviews about the place were pretty positive.
When I first pulled up to the restaurant, the thing that I immediately noticed was that the nameplate of the restaurant on the building was their Instagram handle (complete with the Instagram icon, too). I’m not going to lie, I thought that it was a bit tacky. But I suppose whatever makes you stand out from the street while driving by, and that probably garners a little bit of extra attention.
The location of the restaurant itself is right at a street corner, immediately adjacent to an In-N-Out location. The parking lot only had one entrance, and that made it super rough trying to get out of there, since the drive-thru line for the In-N-Out was completely obstructing the Wa Sushi entrance. You were at the mercy of someone who would be courteous enough in the drive-thru line for a moment to let you out of the parking lot, so you need to mentally prepare for the struggle it might be to get out. Definitely something to keep in mind if you’re visiting this place.
Once you step inside, it’s a pretty nice dining area, with a little artificial stone waterfall immediately to your left. There’s a pretty extensive sushi bar, along with a number of two-person and four-person tables throughout the rest of the dining area. Artificial cherry blossom trees also helped add another nice décor touch to the overall atmosphere as well. The one thing that was rather odd was that no one was at the hostess stand to greet us when we first walked in, and we ended up standing there probably about 30 seconds before someone came over and took us to a table.
I will say that their menu is more extensive than I thought when I had first pulled it up on Yelp. Appetizers, entrée plates (between teriyaki, katsu, and tempura), salads, rice bowls, noodle bowls, nigiri, sashimi, and sushi rolls, it was definitely two full pages of options to choose from. Michele and I were trying to decide between a few different of the rolls, along with some of their cold signature plates. It took us two rounds of asking our waiter for some more time to decide before we finally ended up placing our order.
In the end, we decided to get three different rolls (Alamo, Hunt, and Sunset), along with their Yuzu Salmon cold signature plate. It was a Sunday night, and while there were still a good number of tables occupied at the restaurant, the overall atmosphere still felt more quiet at the same time. It didn’t feel like we ended up waiting too long for our food, as our Yuzu Salmon plate was the first to arrive over. It didn’t take us very long to polish off that plate before the sushi rolls began to trickle in from the sushi chefs.
Citrus and fish always seems to be a pairing that works, and it was certainly no exception for the delicate flavors of yuzu and the salmon. Thin slices of salmon had what looked like a small dab of yuzu kosho on there, which helped to provide those citrus flavors with a little hint of spiciness as well. It was a good appetizer to get things started before progressing into the sushi rolls themselves.
Of the three rolls, I’ll say that the Alamo Roll unfortunately looked the least appetizing, primarily because of the visual texture of the mixture on top of the roll. (I think I was thrown off since it kind of looked like shredded cheese.) The crabmeat, scallops, and salmon, combined with spicy mayo, just looked a bit too processed and had a bit of an odd coloration. The inside of the roll had crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, and shrimp tempura. As an overall combination, the flavors weren’t too bad, with sweet and savory being the primary ones you tasted. But the lack of visual appeal probably holds me back from getting this one again.
The Sunset Roll was doubling down on the salmon, with the ingredient contained both inside as well as outside. The salmon was complemented by thin-sliced lemons and ponzu on the outside, coupled with salmon, avocado, and jalapeño slices on the inside. You definitely got the strong salmon flavor, with some heat from the jalapeño slice, along with the tartness that came from the lemon. With the Hunt Roll, each piece was definitely a large bite. Spicy tuna and eel tempura on top, with cucumber, avocado, and crabmeat on the inside, finished with some eel sauce and sesame seeds. The tempura texture contrasts with the softness of all the other ingredients, but I liked the savory flavors from an overall perspective.
While I thought that most of the food was good, I wouldn’t say that there was anything specific that would draw me to go back there again. Couple that with the effort it took to get through the In-N-Out drive-thru line and out of the parking lot, I’d classify it as a place that I wouldn’t initiate the suggestion to go to, but I’d be able to find something to eat on the menu if others wanted to go. But given all of the other sushi restaurants in the general area, I definitely found myself wanting to continue looking around at what else was out there after my dining experience.
Let’s now take a look at the Wa Sushi & Izakaya Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Yuzu Salmon **
Salmon sashimi topped with yuzu kosho and microgreens.
Mixture of crabmeat, salmon, and scallops on the outside, with cucumber, crabmeat, avocado, and shrimp tempura on the inside.
** Sunset Roll **
Salmon, lemon slices, and ponzu on the outside, with salmon, avocado, and jalapeño on the inside.
** Hunt Roll **
Crabmeat, cucumber, and avocado on the inside, topped with eel tempura, spicy tuna, and eel sauce.
And finally, here are my rankings for Wa Sushi & Izakaya:
Food: 3.5 / 5
Even though there were a large number of options available on the menu, I thought that the food came across as average at best. It’s hard to shake the visual texture of that Alamo Roll, which was slightly off-putting for me.
Atmosphere: 4 / 5
The dining area seemed to be pretty well lit, with the artificial cherry blossom trees providing some good ambient lighting in those spaces. The tables themselves also seemed to be spaced out pretty well between the two areas.
Service: 3.5 / 5
Things got off to a rocky start when there was no one to greet us at the hostess stand, and we had to end up standing around for 30 seconds before someone came over to speak to us. Our waitress was nice and did come back several times to the table to check in with us.
Price: 3.5 / 5
The majority of the premium sushi rolls were priced anywhere from $15 to $20, which did seem rather on the steep side, in my opinion. I wouldn’t say that any of our rolls really contained any of the premium-type ingredients that I would typically expect be driving this kind of price point.
14.5 / 20
Categories: California, Restaurants
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