Kiku Sushi, 3090 Chino Ave. (at Emerald Way), Chino Hills; open 11:30 to 10 p.m. daily
Chino Hills has more good Japanese restaurants than any other Inland Valley city. I tried Kiku Sushi recently; it’s in the same center that has a Harkins 18 cinema and a few so-so restaurants. Kiku means “chrysanthemum.”
A friend and I arrived just as the place opened for lunch, which I say to explain the photo below of a seemingly empty dining room. The restaurant was nearing capacity by the time we left.
Apparently Kiku is known for its all you can eat sushi, but that’s how I (crunch) roll. I just ordered off the sushi menu.
I had albacore ($6.50) and yellowtail ($7.50) nigiri sushi, with large pieces of fish. Unusually, besides the two pieces each on rice, a third piece of each fish was provided. That was new to me, but a nice bonus.
I also got my standby, the salmon skin cut roll ($6). (As the tuna melt is my baseline sandwich, the salmon skin cut roll is my baseline sushi.) Not the best version I’ve had by any means, but acceptable.
My friend got the tonkatsu bowl ($7), a fried pork cutlet over rice. No Japanese food enthusiast, she liked it.
Service via an English-language server was helpful. A giant video screen played YouTube music videos, which was a little tacky. A better touch were the slatted screens over the windows, which muted the light coming in from outside. It’s hard to block out an ocean of asphalt, blinding noontime sun and throngs of people headed for the multiplex a few yards away, but the screens did a commendable job of creating a cozy atmosphere.
Kiku is fairly average as far as Japanese restaurants go in Chino Hills (and some on Yelp say it’s really gone downhill after an ownership change), but I’d go there again for a semi-civilized meal before or after a movie. It’s got to beat Buffalo Wild Wings.