Affordable sushi within distance
Japanese restaurant needs improvement
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 19:05
Sushi is usually a meal people have to journey out to find, but that quest can now be short with a new hole-in-the-wall restaurant recently popping up in the community.
First opening its doors about two months ago, Gyoza Express is only a short walk from Contra Costa College. Its location is great for students who want convenient and fairly priced Japanese fare for lunch if transportation is an issue.
Gyoza Express is located at 14350 Laurie Lane in San Pablo, near the San Pablo Supermarket, across El Portal Drive from campus. It is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
In light of its opening, regular rolls, those that can be found at most Japanese restaurants like the California roll, are 50 percent off of their regular price. The expiration of this deal has not yet been determined.
An inexpensive and delightful roll that is worth trying out is the salmon skin roll. It has the right amount of crunch from the fried skin and the little bits of salmon inside make each mouthful delectable.
The ingredients taste fresh and the food is genuinely good.
A downside to these cheap rolls is that each one contains more rice than it should. The additional carbs make you feel full, but that’s not the point of eating sushi.
The restaurant is small and quaint. The wall decorations are really fun because they are red and vibrant round panels with cute anime sumo wrestlers on each.
The water fountain and other decorations remove some charm because they look like tacky, second thoughts. They do not match the same aesthetic vibe and make the place feel inauthentic.
Chef Thomas Lee has a welcoming, friendly smile and makes small talk to those sitting near him. The employees usually seat you as you walk in, but need to improve on building a cordial rapport with diners.
Seated customers could be overlooked during the mid-afternoon as the two waiters per shift become overwhelmed by hurried patrons who go straight into the middle of the room to order takeout meals.
The menu offers some variety, even for those who do not like seafood. A bento box of three items does not break the wallet when it is $12 before tax and tip, and this version of the meal is the cheapest in the area.
The eatery currently does not have an alcohol license, and the beverages are limited to the standard choice of soft drinks, juice, soy milk and water.
The fish inside the chef’s sushi refrigerator is not visually appealing. It fails in its presentation – sitting along the fridge’s glass screen are five limp romaine lettuce leaves hiding the fish, leaving consumers silently wondering where the fish is purchased.
With some slight improvements to interaction with customers and interior design, this tiny place could be a go-to spot with friends and co-workers who want a little escape before going to school or work.