Dining on a budget: News Cafe & Sushi in El Monte

By Claudia S. Palma

News Cafe & Sushi in El Monte is like two worlds in one.

The counter on the side facing the open kitchen and the signs for breakfast specials give the place a diner appeal.

But the table settings and chairs make the cafe look like a small Japanese joint. As you look around and head towards the back, the Asian decor and sushi bar counter say they mean business when it comes to sushi.

The menu is expansive. There is a separate list for sushi items, which were not all available during lunch the last time I went.

The menu is expansive. There is a separate list for sushi items, which were not all available during lunch last week.The cafe menu featured typical breakfast and lunch fare, from country breakfast to cobb salad and pasta dishes to a bacon cheeseburger.

There are also plenty of vegetarian and salad choices.

The Japanese lunch special featured a bento meal, with items such as chicken or beef teriyaki, miso soup and choice of California or spicy tuna rolls. There were also cut rolls such as caterpillar rolls and crunchy rolls.  

Unfortunately for me, having too many choices is not always a good thing. I am not a very picky eater and want to try everything. I eventually just gave in and tried something from both worlds.

The crazy salmon roll, $9.95, called to me, as well as the Reuben sandwich (nix the sauerkraut).

The Reuben sandwich combo, at $7.95, came with either a pasta salad, cole slaw or fries. I went for the pasta salad (which I regretted later when I saw someone else’s plate with huge steak fries – darn, I love thick fries.)    

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The corned beef, sandwiched with squaw bread and cheese, was good but could have used more pepper or seasoning and I would have preferred it more moist. The pasta salad was made of colorful rotini pasta, some crunchy pieces of bell pepper and onion and a light, tasty vinaigrette.

The crazy salmon roll featured spicy salmon, avocado, cucumber and rice rolled in seaweed and completely covered with long strips of raw salmon and topped with a special light sauce and sesame seed.

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The whole roll was surprisingly good but I wouldn’t make it my favorite. Having their own separate sushi chef was a good call though.

The spicy salmon wasn’t as spicy as I expected. Usually when I order spicy anything from a Japanese restaurant, it really does have a kick.

Warning - the cafe was pretty busy when I went around lunch time and there didn’t seem to be enough waitresses for the crowd swarming in for some cafe food. Be patient or call ahead of time if you are picking up. 

News Cafe & Sushi is located at 11357 E. Valley Blvd., next to El Monte City Hall. They are open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

For information or delivery, call (626) 443-2603.

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