California Beach serves, quite simply, the best sushi I have ever tasted. If you consider yourself a fan of Japanese food, and particularly sushi, do yourself a favor and try it out. I’ve taken many friends and family here and it has never disappointed. The food, that is. The place itself is, well, perhaps not as appealing to everyone.
But oh, the food. I’ve never tried anything besides the all-you-can-eat here, and I don’t plan on ever trying anything else. I’m sure the other stuff is great, but the reason I keep coming back is to stuff myself full of great quality sushi. Here’s the deal: $21.95 for an hour an a half of sushi heaven. It’s not bad considering the quality of the food and how much other all-you-can-eat places cost. The mode of ordering is the infamous paper method, and the service is a bit slow, so that you’ll average about three rounds. You’re allowed to pick appetizers, rolls, and sushi. Most of the appetizers are good, but the sushi and hand rolls are outstanding. In fact, almost everything on the all you can eat menu is worth a try (you might have to go with a lot of other people though, or come back a few times, to do that). And the sake is delicious.
I’d give the food five stars, two thumbs up, whatever cliche you want. The controversy lies in two other things: the ordering method, and the setting. As stated before, you’re given the paper strip on which the menu is printed, and each person is allowed to pick two types of sushi and two appetizers. Your waitress will bring it out on a large plate, and after you polish that off, you’re given another paper form. Simple enough, right? The problem is that you only have an hour and a half (an hour if you sit at the bar). They don’t exactly kick you out, but they’ll remind you firmly when it’s time to give up your seat. This time limit, coupled with the slow service, means that on average, you can fit in three rounds. But, it’s not as bad as it may seem. By this time, you should be pretty stuffed, if you’re an average person. If you eat a lot more, however, or just want to show off to your friends/get your money’s worth, then check out the menu online before you go, so you can order quickly. And ask for the paper form WHILE you’re eating your food, not after. Nice waitresses will do this without being asked (I gave her a deserved extra tip). My friends and I have managed to squeeze in four rounds this way the last couple of times. Another side note: they claim to charge you 5 dollars extra if you waste food, but only if it’s in excess.
The place is a medium sized locale, with extra friendly service and loud music. The thing is, some people have complained that the service is a little TOO friendly and the music a little TOO loud. It’s true that you’ll have to shout to be heard here, but if you don’t mind that, it’s actually pretty fun. The people who make the actual sushi at the bars are loud and friendly, and every hour and a half or so the rock n’ roll music will stop, and they’ll blast their theme song. The employees will all have wooden blocks (if you’re lucky and sitting at the bar, you might be given a pair too) and clap them together in a deafening rhythmic pattern. And then afterwards everyone (including the sushi chefs) toasts everyone else with a mug of beer and carry on eating. It’s a weird mix of traditional Japanese cuisine and western style rock n’ roll atmosphere, but it’s definitely worth a try, for the first time at least, and a great place to get together with a bunch of rowdy friends.
Other details: it’s only open for dinner, but the all-you-can-eat price is the same every day of the week. Also, parking may be a bit hard if you’re unlucky, but there’s a lot around the back-it’s just a bit more of a walk.