Imagine the horror when after 9 months of not eating raw fish in order to properly incubate a baby, I found out that one of my favorite sushi joints, the girl-powered Azami Sushi Cafe on Melrose, had closed.
But also imagine the joy when I read that Azami's co-owner and female sushi chef extraordinaire Niki Nakayama had opened Inaka Seafood Gourmet in Arcadia, just a stone's throw away from me!
Before you put your best sushi-eating outfit on for Azami the Sequel though, hold up. Inaka is not a sushi restaurant but rather, a Japanese deli that serves up health-conscious Japanese rice and noodle dishes by day and does a special Chef's Table by night. Don't be disappointed though. Just try the chirashizushi at Inaka and you'll experience the fresh seafood and simple, tasty presentations that Chef Niki was known for at the late Azami.
Hungry after a recent morning of throwing my money away at Arcadia's Santa Anita Mall, I skipped the food court and drove across the street to Inaka to chow on some chirashi, my latest MEOW (MEal Of the Week).
I'm a sucker for chirashi first of all because it's so darn pretty with slices of sashimi and other accoutrements laid atop a bed of sushi rice like a colorful quilt. Inaka's version is a clear winner, not only because it too is nice to look at, but also because it has a nice balance of flavors and textures. Fresh-to-the-max buttery soft slices of sashimi such as salmon, maguro, and albacore are accompanied by the coarser textures of crab and spicy tuna. Their sushi rice is just slightly warm, and is neither too sweet nor too vinegary. A dash of sesame seeds and some pickled ginger help to round the whole thing out.
Oh yeah, and this whole thing costs just $11.50 before tax and tip which is a helluva deal considering $5.25 buys you a 6-piece Chicken McNugget and large fries across the street at the mall. You do the math.
Inaka Seafood Gourmet
838 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
P.S. Chef Niki also does an eight course Chef's Table at night for $80 per person which I am dying to try after reading LA & OC Foodie's review. Tables fill up quickly so please book a week or two in advance!