Nara Japanese Restaurant, 3277 Grand Ave. (at Peyton), Chino Hills
Chino Hills has a fair number of sushi bars. Nara is the oldest, opening in 1996, which in Chino Hills terms is practically the dawn of time (cityhood was in 1991). Like everything else in Chino Hills, Nara is in a shopping center, this one across Peyton from the Shoppes. The sign reads, generically, Japanese Restaurant, a hint that the sign was a way to introduce the pioneering restaurant to a skittish city.
Inside, the feel is much more promising: small, intimate, quiet on a Tuesday evening despite the presence of several diners. It’s arranged such that you could have a semi-private meal here even though the space is about the size of your living room.
I sat at the sushi bar and had a nice meal with sushi off the regular menu and off the specials board. Live scallops ($7.50) came from a shell pried open in front of me; black cod ($8.50, pictured top right) and Oregon albacore tuna ($7.50) were both tasty; and the salmon skin cut roll ($4.95, pictured below right), one of my standard orders, arrived in larger rolls than I’ve usually seen it. It was intricately prepared, the skin crisped in an oven.
Ojiya and Rokuan are other above-average Japanese restaurants in Chino Hills that I’ve tried. It would take a more expert diner than me to rank them, but Nara wouldn’t seem out of place in their company.