It’s been over five years since Yes Sushi 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 almost completely Japanese menu thus broke the long string of Thai restaurants occupying the same suite at the front of the Holiday Inn Express complex on East Colorado Boulevard for close to three decades.
Yes Sushi’s nearest competitor is the long-lived Gin Sushi across the street. But its presence doesn’t seem to have deterred the new kid on the block’s success. From the time it opened its doors, Yes Sushi offered some real bargains, especially a Happy Hour that lasted for three hours (3 to 6 p.m.) every weeknight. Yelpers raved. We raved.
The Happy Hour offerings were varied (appetizers, salads, nigiri sushi, simple rolls and special rolls) but limited to only 30-plus items. Almost everything was discounted by at least $1, some by $2 or even $3. The deep price cuts included Japanese beer and hot sake. After all, what’s Happy Hour without adult beverages? We feasted on piping hot petite gyoza and mixed tempura, simple California and salmon rolls and duos of salmon, shrimp and albacore nigiri.
The slices of fish on the sushi orders were fresh 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, masago or tobiko. The filling in the California roll was snow crab instead of fake “krab,” a definite plus.
Although we hadn’t revisited Yes Sushi since our bargain lunch, I heard through the grapevine that the restaurant was now offering All You Can Eat (AYCE) sushi for lunch ($21.99) and dinner ($25.99), a rarer and rarer opportunity to pig or, more accurately, yellowtail out at a reasonable cost. Again, Yelpers were raving. So last week we headed back to see if we would add our accolades to the online fans.
When we got there a little before noon, the spacious L-shaped interior was still sparsely populated, although it filled up fast. We seated ourselves in one of the cozy booths flanking the periphery and were immediately presented with huge technicolor menus with thumbnail annotated photos of their specialty rolls, appetizers and salads featured on one side; lunch and dinner, noodle, sushi, regular roll, beverage and Happy Hour offerings on the other. Our server, togged out in a black tee whose back read “YES SUSHI AYCE SUSHI” also brought water, the sushi bar price list and the AYCE list.
To start, we had to learn the AYCE rules. First, there’s a one-hour limit for orders, so it might be advisable to avoid peak times when the sushi chefs are busy. Second, although you can order any and all of 17 appetizers, eight salads, 20 kinds of nigiri and 49 rolls (baked, tempura, fresh and cut) from basic to baroque, you are required to finish everything you order or be charged the a la carte price for what’s still on your plate (including rice). Third, should you down your entire first order you may proceed to a second and then a third round of food with the same restrictions.
With these limits in mind it was ready, set, go: delectable gyoza ($5.95), shrimp tempura ($4.95) and soft shell crab ($6.95), both fresh from the fryer, two orders each of tuna ($5.25 apiece), salmon ($4.50 apiece), shrimp ($3.95 apiece) and yellowtail ($4.50 apiece) nigiri, one spider (soft shell crab with avocado, crab, cucumber and masago) roll, one rainbow (assorted fish) roll and one king tiger (crab, shrimp and avocado) roll ($10.95 apiece).
With steaming bowls of slightly too salty miso ($1.95 each) and jasmine tea (not included and $2 extra apiece) to wash down our lunch, we did manage to put away our entire first order in less than half an hour. The fish was fresh and the quality of the simple preparations were fine for the price. Our only disappointment, the crab Yes Sushi now uses as fillers for its rolls is no longer genuine but, as noted at the bottom of the menu, imitation. Dang!
We were somewhat less enthusiastic about our second stab at the menu, limiting ourselves to another order of piping hot shrimp tempura, an additional two orders of yellowtail and one each of scallop ($5.25) and salmon egg ($4.95) nigiri. About this time, one of the helpful servers who had replenished our tea throughout the meal, took pity on us and let us know ice cream ($3.95) was included in the price of our meal.
That information was enough to cause us to admit we were daunted, simply not gluttons enough to manage a third round of sushi. We humbly accepted soothing scoops of green tea ice cream with whipped cream and maraschino cherries as a consolation prize and prepared to leave, overstuffed but with the satisfaction of knowing our $52 bill was just over a third of what we would have laid out if we’d ordered everything individually.
Before we waddled to our car, we checked out the Happy Hour menu which, although still mildly tempting, is severely limited compared with the incredible AYCE sushi list. An order of just $1-discounted appetizer and a couple of special rolls would just about equal the price of an entire AYCE lunch. So even though Yes Sushi has now expanded its original three-hour Happy Hour to seven (starting at 11 a.m.) its most tempting discount is the buy one sake/beer at the regular price and get a second for only 1cent! Next time in, we’ll see if we can combine that deal with the AYCE lunch.
Yes Sushi | 3500 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 100 | (626) 564-2787 | Beer and Wine/Major Cards