Where it comes to sushi, generally speaking, I am a one-shop man. My shop is Kanno, where Hide Suzuki has made me some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
But I also like to try new places and, as a result, I checked out Yakuza House recently.
It’s the sort of place that I am reluctant to discuss, because it’s really good and it’s really small. That’s what you want a sushi bar to be, ideally, because you want to interact with the folks making your food, but this is Tokyo small.
Chef Huy Pham runs things and, if you get a seat at the sushi bar, you’ll enjoy your conversation with him – mainly because he’s there making hand rolls for you and when he’s not doing that, he’s breaking down a whole fish.
It’s not a typical menu for our area. They serve “sandos,” a Japanese take on the sandwich made with a host of different ingredients, generally sharing in common a soft, milk-bread as the base. I have not had the sandos at Yakuza House, because I was there for the hand rolls.
A hand roll is essentially a sushi roll that’s not cut into pieces. Generally, it’s wrapped up like a cone, but at Yakuza House they essentially give you an un-cut sushi roll. It works because they actually toast the seaweed wrapper to the point that it’s crispy without being burned. The practical advantage to the crispy seaweed is that you can bite through the roll without forcing the filling out of the bottom, or at least, not too much.
As an aesthetic thing, though, the texture of that seaweed wrapper is fantastic.
When my son and I dined, we started with a yellowtail crudo that had pink peppercorns and citrus, followed by whelk (whelk!) with pickled shallot, yuzu and chiles. Now not every one of you will be as excited as I was to see whelk on a menu, but I have found that having less common ingredients on a menu to be indicative of the overall quality of a place.
The flavors on those dishes were outstanding. Just enough acid to mellow the fatty yellowtail and just enough spice to contrast the crunchy-sweet whelk. The rolls were good, too. My son and I were both hungry and we ate lunch late, so we both went with the “hangry” set of hand rolls. Check the menu https://yakuzahouse.com/menu out for a better description of the “sets” they do.
We were hungry and I damn near finished all of what I was served but towards the end I realized I would regret finishing everything I was served. My son was wiser: he got the last roll to go.
I like this place and I haven’t even had a chance to sample most of their menu, which includes donburi bowls (rice topped with various things) or most of the sushi on offer.
This is a place where you should make a reservation, and preferably well in advance of your planned visit. It’s that small, folks, and while you may be able to snag a seat at the bar if you’re by yourself or with one other person, I’d still suggest you call ahead.
Yakuza House Sushi is located at 1325 Veterans Blvd., suite A, and you can call them at 345-2031. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 9.