Global Cuisine: Glendale Sushi Edition

By Jessica Knutzon, Co-editor

Warning: Moderate to severe sarcasm included

I have never lived in a land-locked state, so getting access to fresh seafood was never an issue for me. Before moving to Arizona, while it is odd and definitely unimportant, I was really concerned I was not going to find good sushi in Glendale. Eighteen months without spicy tuna? I could die. Plus, I finally mastered chopsticks and I need show off my skills. A few friends and I took on the brave challenge of trying three different sushi restaurants within a three-mile radius of campus. We had some delicious and not-so-delicious conclusions. Full disclosure: I have had sushi pretty much everywhere but Japan, so my aptitude for decent sushi could be slightly skewed. All of these restaurants serve a variation of sushi with cream cheese in the roll, which some may think is awesome. Is it? I’ll let you decide.

All three of these restaurants are on Bell Road in glamorous Glendale and have all day happy hour specials. Let the culinary adventure begin!

Sushi Catcher is often kindly referred to as “Sushi Nails” because it is located next to a nail salon and the signs above the stores read “Sushi” and “Nails.” Great story, I know. It is known by many students on campus because of its all day sake bomb happy hour. A beer and small sake for $5.00 may bring customers in, but is the sushi good enough to keep customers content? Meh. The rolls lack creativity and they aren’t great, but if you have a sushi craving and you’re waiting on your friend to finish her manicure next door, it is worth popping into the restaurant. The environment is casual and relaxed, which is inviting as well. The restaurant has about six tables and four seats at the bar, and is always packed with chatty young people just looking for a drink and some sushi. One small issue I had is that everything smells like fish. I mean…everything. The air. My water glass. The lemon in my water. Everything. If I weren’t so picky, I would say it’s nice to know they’ve committed to their product throughout the restaurant. One redeeming quality is the music – it is always on point. There is a mix of 90s and early 2000s pop blasting and between bites of sushi so you can say to your friend, “Wow…do you remember how terrible this song was?” and then proceed to sing every single lyric like you wrote the song yourself. Nostalgia and edamame at the same time? I’d say you’re definitely winning. Music aside, I’m sorry to say “Sushi Nails,” you are third on my list but I still love you.

Authentic Western Sushi Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org
Authentic Western Sushi
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org

By far the most fun restaurant name on the list, Ah-So Sushi & Steak is hidden in a strip mall but you can’t miss the windows covered in big colorful words. They make it very clear that they have sushi behind those windows. The restaurant is pretty large and was at about 40% capacity when we were there. We know those snowbirds like to get dinner in by 5:00 p.m. – the stars aligned for us one night and we were able to join the excitement. There is a hibachi grill section, which I have yet to try out, but I will tell you it is just as exhilarating to be at plain, non-hibachi table looking in on all of the fun. Wait? Was that fire? I’m going to watch these people eat as they bask in the glory of having a stranger throw shrimp into their mouths. Back to the sushi. We ordered off the specials menu, posted on a whiteboard at the entrance of the restaurant and opted not to order from the menu. The sushi is tasty and the portions are exaggerated, so you definitely get the most bang for your buck at this restaurant. We took a large Styrofoam box of sushi home. Awesome and disgusting all at the same time—amiright? It is rumored there is another location in Glendale.

I saved the best for last because this restaurant, Tokyo Lobby, gives you the most well-rounded experience. This establishment is sometimes referred to as “Walmart Sushi” because it is located in the same shopping complex as the local Walmart, it is probably the best sushi within the vast three-mile radius of campus. I know I’m really stirring the pot with this controversial declaration, but hear me out.  There are two outdoor patios and while the lighting inside of the restaurant is incredibly dim, it creates a somewhat romantic ambience. Personally, I like to sit on the patio and admire the parking lot…the big white lights from the Walmart sign lighting up your eyes. That’s romance, ladies and gentlemen. When the water misters are on, you almost forget where you are and lose sight of what is behind those clouds of water. The sushi has some creative twists and tastes the freshest of all the restaurants. The restaurant does close for a few hours in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, so make sure to time your visit accordingly. The owner of the restaurant is incredibly sweet and makes sure every customer has an enjoyable experience. He always puts our sushi on the little wooden boat, which means we’re his favorite customers. Obviously.

So that’s it T-birds…we’re all going to be OK. We have decent sushi in Glendale. Wasabi on my friends.

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