An American Idol: Sushi Dan

a-tableI never understood why the public gets so outraged when pop stars are caught lip-synching. It seems like what people fail to distinguish is the difference between “singers,” and “performers.” For me, the Ashley Simpsons and even the Janet Jacksons of the pop world are “performers” who’s job is to entertain the crowd and not to wow them with their singing skills, so I naturally don’t put them on the same vocal standards as, say, Sarah Brightman, a songbird who makes bank on her ability to hold a tune. But that doesn’t make one better or worse than the other. Sarah can sing better than Janet, but Janet sure can move better than Sarah. They’re just …  you know … different, and it’s quite unfair to compare the apples with oranges.

For me, just like the music industry, the sushi world also has its own classifications. There are the “traditional” sushi establishments that are so hard-core that highly trained, extremely knowledgeable sushi chef will literally chop your head off with a Ginzu knife if you even think about ordering anything with mayonnaise (their names are usually Ken, Hiro, or Kaz). Then there are the “American” sushi places where cute, young sushi chefs (Peter, John, Mike — obviously made-up names) serve creative rolls and call them sushi just because they contain rice and seaweed. The truth is, the food served at both places are equally delicious in its own way, but they are two completely different genre of food and they should not be compared or be subjected to same standards.

I can see why people may think that I’m a sushi snob because I’ve only been able to find to a handful of restaurants that I think capture the true essence of the “traditional” sushi, even in this super sushi-dense San Fernando Valley.  This could be misconstrued as me being highly critical and super selective, although the truth is that I’ve been to many, many good “American” sushi places around.

Sushi Dan in Studio City, to me, is the quintessential “American” sushi establishment that serves creative and fun sushi rolls, like Shrimp Killer that has a log of cream cheese in the middle of a deep- fried, eel-sauce drenched roll. The clientale is mostly young, hip Hollywood-wannabe type and the atmopshere is busy and lively, even during lunch hours.  It offers traditional sushi menu but why bother when you can have the Yummy Crunchy and all the other interesting creations.  I was introduced to this place by my friends/colleagues only a few weeks ago, but we’ve been back for lunch already twice in a short amount of time.

Shrimp Killer, shrimp tempura, cream cheese and cucumber inside, topped with eel sauce

Yummy Crunchy, tuna tomato, house dressing on fried wonton skins

Salmon sashimi

Assortment of sushi that came with the lunch special

Philadelpha Roll

Would I recommend this place to hard-core sushi purists (alas my boyfriend)? Probably not. But would I recommend it for someone who’s looking for some fun, delicious “American” sushi? Absolutely.

Sushi Dan
11056 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604


7 thoughts on “An American Idol: Sushi Dan

  1. I always wanted to taste sushi but I found it was too dificult to eat it with hashi. I got empbarassed when i tried to eat with my friends…
    I found this video that teachs how to eat in a polite way.
    It helped me a lot 😀

  2. I hate the whole concept of sushi fusion or whatever you call it, but I’ll still eat it if it’s good. I’m more of a traditional guy and love it when the sushi chef refuses to make even a spicy tuna roll. If you’re ever in SF, take your sushi-purist boyfriend to Ino Sushi in the Little Tokyo plaza. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it. Ino-san has been a family friend for years and he is as traditional as they come.

  3. I too, like the authentic sushi places better, but I must admit I live Sushi Dan… close to where I used to work, I went there at least once a week for lunch. They’re one of the best Americanized sushi place without Japanese Chefs or owner I must say!
    Lunch special is such a great deal. I order the combo with Hot Night Roll (I forgot the exact name…) #2. #2 is SPICIER than #1 and not on the memu! It’s so much better than #1 so try it out! : )
    The one on Sunset (West Hollywood) isn’t bad either. Same owner, late hours, more hip vibe.

  4. Hi Jake,

    Thank you for the comment! Yeah, chopsticks can be a little tricky, for sure! But don’t let that stop you from trying new Asian cuisine : – ) Good luck!


  5. Hi Keizo,

    I’ll definitely check out Ino Sushi! I’ve been craving some good traditional sushi! Mmm. Thanks for the recommendation!


  6. Hi Saori,

    Oh yeah, the lunch special is an amazing deal! I had salmon sashimi, assortment of sushi and miso soup for super cheap!


  7. Pingback: Just Trust It: Sushi Sasabune « Time for Dinner

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