Sushi California is one of our neighborhood joints, a place to go when you're hungry and looking for generous portions at a decent price. It sits in the same complex as Lu Lu Cafe, on the corner of North Road and Lougheed. As usual, the restaurant was very busy, but our service was efficient and brisk.
We ordered a few items, hot and cold. The first was the tako yaki ($3.75), which are five grilled balls of dough with octopus pieces in it. The dish arrived topped with fluttering flakes of bonito and drizzles of japanese mayo and katsu sauce. This was delicious; the tako yaki were soft and had a near custardy feel, and the octopus was pleasantly chewy and gave a nice, contrasting texture. We enjoyed this a lot.
Next was the assorted tempura ($7.95). The pieces were crunchy and piping hot, but it was pretty standard, like anything you would get at any Japanese restaurant.
We also had few pieces of salmon, unagi, and tako nigiri sushi. The salmon pieces were fresh, and so large that it overlapped over the rice; this was tender and pretty good. The unagi also were tasty, though not as melt in your mouth as those from Fuji Sushi's. The tako was tender enough, but lacked that sweet from-the-sea flavour that you would ideally get.
The last thing we shared was the spicy combo ($7.95), which came with spicy tuna maki, kappa maki, and marinated pieces of tuna and cucumber in a sweet chili sauce. The spicy tuna was great, with large tuna pieces and a generous addition of hot sauce. The marinated tuna was quite spicy, but was a little to sweet for my liking. Nevertheless, it went well with the cucumber maki, which cleansed and cooled the taste buds.
Sushi California is really about the portions and the generous slices of fish. The quality isn't the best, and the food is not made with tremendous care, but the restaurant is affordable and always popular with the locals.