Sora Sushi & Roll in Covina

After a couple of restaurant groups were didn’t have much staying power at the site of the former Sam Woo BBQ on San Bernardino Road and Azusa over the years, I hope the new inhabitants, Sora Sushi & Roll, will have better luck.

After a few colleagues made a few return trips there for lunch, I thought I would give the new Japanese cuisine a try myself to see what they had to offer.

Though there are many Asian restaurants in the neighborhood, there haven’t been too many that have such a variety of sushi and rolls offered, and taste good too.

Although the teriyaki plates and combination platters were very tempting, I felt it only fair to give the sushi rolls a try.

With everything from a simple California or tuna roll to the specialty, fresh, tempura and baked rolls, I grew hungrier as I read the description of each roll. I finally settled on the Alaska roll (spicy scallop inside, topped with salmon and avocado and rice) and a spicy tuna roll.

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Sushi and roll orders come with a cup of miso soup and salad. The soup was perfectly temperatured for me to enjoy right away, I would have liked more tofu pieces but the broth was seasoned well for a tasty, warm start to my meal.

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The small salad was a simple mix of greens with radiccio and carrot. The dressing, not knowing exactly what it was, was very tasty with a slight tangy and light flavor.

The Alaska roll ($8.95) was beautifully displayed and it tasted as good as it looked. The spicy scallop had a nice tender kick, not too strong, and the salmon and avocado was a nice fresh and cool balance to the roll.

The spicy tuna ($4.95) cut roll had a little more heat but was still not overwhelming the rest of the flavors in the roll.

The rice in the rolls were cooked just right so they stayed sticky to keep the rolls in place. A good indicator of the sushi chef’s talent.

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I was pleasantly full with the size of the rolls but the dessert was so tempting, I ordered some strawberry mochi ice cream to go ($2.50 for two pieces) – perfect ending to my Sora experience.

Although it can get pricey, I will definitely have to return to Sora to try the rest of the menu, starting with the Jalapeno Bomb and Soft Shell Crab in their Little Bites menu.

Sora also offers salads, sashimi combos, noodles, bowls, tempura plates, and party platters.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Sora is located at 519 N. Azusa Ave., Covina, 626-332-1201.

Goodbye Tampopo Ramen

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Last week, I visited Tampopo Ramen, a Japanese restaurant in the food court-like Plaza Walk building in Rowland Heights. Last night, I happened to wander by the area again and saw a sign in front of the restaurant that announced its closure on June 2.

Today, I called up the restaurant to confirm it was actually closing forever, not just on one day.

Yes, it’s true. They’re closing.

The person on the phone, who sounded like the owner, said he’s received many compliments about the food and condolences about their closing. The man said operating costs are high, as are the rent and parking fees. There’s another Tampopo Ramen in Gardena, although he’s not the owner-operator. The man says he doesn’t have any plans to open at another location this year. Their last day is June 1.

If you have time before June 2, check it out. I really enjoyed it, and even started writing a review for it for the Highlanders…
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Microwaved miso soup

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A few weeks ago, I went to Sushiya, a Japanese restaurant in the Eastern portion of Pasadena. According to a few reviews I read on Yelp!, it sounded like a decent place to go. And it was. The sushi chefs were nice, the waitress was friendly, and the food was ok. It definitely wasn’t the best quality sushi I’ve had, but it was extremely inexpensive. The sushi rolls didn’t taste bad, but they weren’t great either. This is the type of restaurant that’ll satisfy a cheap and quick sushi craving but not good enough for a “night out.”

Then comes the miso soup. I didn’t order it, but a table of women next to us did. First, I heard the “ding!” of a microwave from inside the kitchen. Moments later, the waitress comes out with three bowls of miso soup.

Is it OK to microwave miso soup?

Sushiya
2525 E. Foothill Blvd. # 2
Pasadena,
CA
91107
(626) 795-1311

Vermin in Japanese restaurant

5626-bishamon 001.jpg When a restaurant gets shut down by the Health Department, it’s not only embarrassing for the restaurant owners/managers, it’s also embarrassing for its customers.

On Thursday, Bishamon, a Japanese restaurant in downtown Covina, had this sign on the front door. “Closed due to construction.”

The front window displayed the Health Department’s closure notice. “Vermin infestation, no hot water, scored below 70.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’ve eaten at this restaurant at least a dozen times, and I go there about once a month. The restaurant has plenty of customers, and the sushi bar is usually full. I thought the food was pretty good and never dreamed about unsanitary conditions in the kitchen.

I’ve even taken my friends to Bishamon and recommended it to others. How embarrassing.

There’s no way to know that these poor conditions were around when I dined there, but it certainly makes you wonder.

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