I’m no sushi expert but I’ve had some amazing sushi in tokyo, in hawaii and done omakase here in L.A. at Sushi Zo and Q, etc. I’ve also gone to most of the highly rated value spots in Little Tokyo like Sushi Gen, etc, which have the elusive 4.5 star out of 5 star average rating on yelp. (granted, yelp has it’s warts but it’s a great “general consensus” indicator) And I dare anyone to tell me that there’s any sushi establishment in all of Socal with the ridiculous value of Yama Seafood in San Gabriel. As someone who appreciates yet has no real idea of what makes quality sushi beyond the basics (freshness, etc) and watching Jiro dreams of sushi lol, I really wonder how Yama can source this sushi and keep the prices so low. Granted, it’s not a restuarant but a store where you simply order out but if you’re looking for overall quality/value this place simply can’t be beat. I realize San Gabriel is too far east for many of you to venture out to but for anyone who has gone and frequented this establishment I ask you, what’s the catch?
I realize its not a restaurant, the rent must not cost much and they’ve been running the business this way for many years and thus don’t feel the need to raise prices too much with the times but I’m still dumbfounded at how this place does what it does…
And for those of you who decide to make the trek out here, some tips…
Get there on off times as the wait can obviously be very long.
Whatever is out in the back for the cut rolls section is what’s available for that, however if you ask the mexican gentleman working (he does the rolls) he can sometimes make you one of their basic roll offereings or at least tell you what’s coming out next.
When you stand in line and order near the front for sashimi, whatever is out there is what’s available and the large to small sizes of the fish can be sliced when he preps it for you to take out.
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
|Mon|10:00 am - 7:00 pm
|Wed|10:00 am - 7:00 pm||
|Thu|10:00 am - 7:00 pm||
|Fri|10:00 am - 7:00 pm||
|Sat|10:00 am - 7:00 pm||
|Sun|11:00 am - 7:00 pm
between the drop in quality and increase in prices yama is now the better option vs mitsuwa down the street, though truth be told, i preferred schlepping out to what used to be marukai on azusa in (w/?) covina between the 10 & 60. i used to look for reasons to head out that way so i could justify stopping by there and grabbing the frozen yellowfin at $10/lb for poke and making tekka maki or spicy tuna rolls.
Can you expand on this more please? Also I meant for “value” (as sushi gen isnt inexpensive by any means) for them being their weekday lunch special which still consistently brings forth long lines daily etc. Not to again highlight the merits of yelp but any sushi establishment that can maintain a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with thousands of reviews must be doing something right?
I agree. Yama is good value for what you get. The fish is generally fresh and the rice in the rolls/nigiri is better by a mile than any other supermarket sushi I’ve ever had, including Mitsuwa, Marukai, Nijiya, Woori, etc. That said, it takes forever to get anything because the owner (what is the correct designation? He’s not a sushi chef, but has skills way above your average fish monger) is older and there is only one of him. I’ve seen lines extending practically out the door for Yama and waits of 45+ minutes. For a place that one thinks of as take and go, the lack of convenience convinces me to actually go to a proper sushi restaurant that may be about 30% more expensive, but actually is faster. I guess it comes down to “cheap, fast, or good. pick two.” I think Yelpers skew way over to the cheap at the expense of good. So, you get 4.5 stars when maybe it should be fewer.
Last time I went to Sushi Gen, I paid $150 for omakase. The quality was only marginally better than Sugarfish. The chefs aren’t talented, the rice isn’t good, the fish is mediocre, and the whole experience is cramped and unpleasant. Also, it’s ridiculous that they serve two of everything.
That isn’t to say that any of the other sushi places in Little Tokyo are good. They aren’t. Sushi Go 55, for example, is borderline inedible. But they don’t charge $150.
You’re right. Not many. We used to like Izakaya Akatora on Main in Alhambra. They had good sushi with a great happy hour deal. Not wonderful but serviceable. But they went downhill and are now closed. We now frequent Blue Fin Sushi in South Pasadena. Tiny but decent. Mostly takeout which is closer to an apples to apples comparison than a proper sushi joint. If we take the price out of the equation then I’d say sushi kimagure at the train station in Pasadena.
i haven’t been in quite a while, but Z at atlantic/garfield/huntington was good for the area, though surprisingly the rice was sometimes mediocre. if toshi is still behind the bar, it might be worth trying.