Just say Yes Sushi
Happy Hour is a highlight at East Pasadena sushi restaurant
By Erica Wayne 07/17/2013
Yes Sushi’s a new kid in town. The restaurant recently opened on the site of the short-lived Oishi, a Japanese/Thai hybrid which took over the place from Pad Thai, which supplanted Pad Thai Plate, which replaced at least one earlier Thai restaurant. Yes Sushi’s menu is completely Japanese, and thus breaks the long string of Thai restaurants that have occupied the same suite at the front of the Holiday Inn Express complex on East Colorado Boulevard for close to three decades.
Although Yes Sushi’s kitty-corner from the long-lived Gin Sushi (pretty stiff competition), it is likely the morph will be better for business. Good Thai restaurants are a dime a dozen, while decent Japanese eateries still go for a metaphorical two bits in these parts. And those that specialize in sushi, especially reasonably priced sushi, may even be slightly rarer.
Since its inception last September, Yelpers have given Yes Sushi good reviews, but the highest accolades have definitely been for its happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday) bargains. So, one Thursday afternoon late last month, when I was able to drag my husband away from his computer by promising a trip to Petsmart after dinner (he loves to check out the puppies in doggie day care, a fantasy since we are owned by six formerly feral felines who wouldn’t welcome a canine sibling), we headed for Yes Sushi, hoping for the best.
When we got there at 4 p.m., the spacious L-shaped interior was almost empty. We seated ourselves in one of the cozy mauve-upholstered booths (left over from the previous inhabitants) flanking the periphery. The Yes Sushi owners have had the good taste to paint over the acid-green walls near the sushi bar that excited diners during Oishi’s tenure. Instead, the color scheme is a more soothing deep orange and cream, with high dark ceilings, rice-paper lanterns and muted green and aqua carpeting.
Our server presented us with huge Technicolor menus: thumbnail annotated photos of their specialty rolls, appetizers and salads are featured on one side; lunch and dinner, noodle, sushi, regular roll, beverage and happy hour offerings on the other. He also brought water, the sushi bar price list and complimentary (during happy hour, $1 at other times) bowls of hot miso.
The happy hour offerings are varied but limited to 31 items aside from beer and sake. Almost everything is discounted by at least $1. Some discounts are $2, and a few are even $3. So, if you want to make a killing, I’d suggest including a salmon skin salad ($4.95), crab salad ($4.95), Alaskan roll of crab, avocado and cucumber with baked salmon on top ($5.95) and Vegas roll filled with cream cheese, avocado, salmon and crab, deep fried and spritzed with eel sauce ($5.95) in your order, saving an immediate $12 off Yes Sushi’s regular prices.
Sadly for us, we prefer simpler rolls and weren’t compelled by salads that afternoon. Instead we ordered gyoza and mixed tempura (each $3.95), two orders of salmon sushi, an order of albacore sushi, another of “izumi dai” (either red snapper or tilapia), a California roll and salmon roll (each $2.50), a large Asahi beer ($3.99) and an iced tea ($2) for a savings of $6.80 on everything except the tea, which wasn’t marked down.
So, how did we fare? Of our fried items, the six gyoza with their citrus-kissed dipping sauce were highlights, petite and perfectly cooked, with crimped crust and a tasty filling, positioned around a refreshing central salad of dark baby greens. The tempura was almost as good — perhaps a teensy bit oily, piping hot from the fryer — a single shrimp with twin chunks of sweet potato, zucchini, green beans and onion.
The slices of fish on the sushi orders were thick and generous, draped fetchingly over their rice beds. Our fat-streaked salmon was particularly tender. The California and salmon rolls were basic, wrapped in nori with an outer coating of rice, but no sesame seed or fish roe. The filling in the California roll was snow crab instead of fake crab, a definite plus.
By the time we got up, we had a bill for a mere $36 (including a generous tip) and were stuffed to the gills (a little sushi humor there). And we’re definitely planning a return visit. We want to try several other items on the happy hour menu. There are calamari rings, green mussels, soft shell crab and jalapeno tempura for $3.95 each. Then there’s crab salad ($4.95), salmon skin roll ($2.50) and maybe a shrimp tempura or Alaska roll ($5.95 each).
Unfortunately, favorites like yellowtail and tuna aren’t on the happy hour menu. We’ve been in mourning for the death of Kabuki’s extensive 50 percent-off sushi list for at least a decade, even though it’s still our favorite go-to place.
But, even at regular prices, Yes Sushi’s charge for decent fish and other items is relatively inexpensive by Pasadena standards: noodle dishes from $5.95 to $13.95; sushi combos starting at $7.95 (lunch) and $12.95 (dinner); teriyaki combos beginning at a mere $5.95 (lunch) and $8.50 (dinner).
So, if you’re on the east side of town one late afternoon, you might want to give Yes Sushi’s happy hour a try. And, if you like it as much as we did, try it again for lunch or dinner. It’s pleasant, reasonable and the quality of service and food are both high. After the number of Thai and Thai fusion closures on this site, we’re hoping for a long life for Yes Sushi.
3500 E. Colorado Blvd., #100, Pasadena
Beer and wine/Major cards