We can’t think of a restaurant that better exemplifies the phrase “mom and pop.” Open only two and a half hours a day, Yoshino is less a sushi bar than a constantly plundered fridge of sushi. Mr and Mrs. Yoshino, who call it a sushi deli, work at a furious pace to keep up with an enthusiastic local following. Sometimes they’ll run out of fish before the 1PM closing time. They only buy enough fresh tuna and salmon to serve on that day.
The most popular items at Yoshino are poke bowls. Yoshino has been making them for years, long before the recent craze. Still, what you find here is yards above the trendy “build-your-own bowl” poke chains that have been popping up. The shallow bowl has more fish than rice and is perfectly seasoned and balanced. You have to be a bit lucky to get one, as they are usually grabbed right away. It may be worth standing around for a few minutes while they replenish the cooler. What comes up next is up to the chef’s whims.
The sushi here isn’t what we’ve been conditioned to tolerate from grab and go coolers at supermarkets. The generous ratio of fish to rice is the first thing you’ll notice when you peer into the cooler. The rice itself is cooked to bouncy perfection, and never gets a chance to fully cool and harden in the refrigerator thanks to the popularity of the shack.
Yoshino doesn’t do a broad spectrum of flashy specialty rolls. Expect simple combinations of tuna, salmon, eel and krazy krab, either served with a ripe chunk of avocado or pulverized into a spicy paste. Unlike most Southern California sushi places, the spicy tuna here is actually quite spicy, and has a recognizable tuna flavor.
Standout maki rolls at Yoshino are the spicy salmon with a thin lemony tobiko (flying fish roe) studded chili-mayo sauce, and simple ahi tuna with avocado.
Most California rolls are more of a source of California shame than pride. The California rolls at Yoshino are redemption. The fake crab salad has a light touch of dressing giving the filling a mousse-like lightness. It is packaged in a deftly thin layer of rice elevating this normally maligned roll to near greatness. Yoshino’s makes a California roll the state can be proud of.
To accompany the sushi, there are salads of marinated seaweed, hijiki (brown seaweed), squid and octopus. They all have unique dressings and different vegetable components. The tako (octopus) salad has a rich bamboo flavor. The ika (squid) is smoked, which compliments the julienned wood-ear mushrooms nicely. The hijiki has almost a nutty flavor that builds into a deep coffee like roasted aroma when combined with sesame seeds and oil.