CVIndependent

Fri08072020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

What: The omakase

Where: Taka Shin, 641 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $75 to $100; $85 as described

Contact: 760-600-5806; takashin-ps.com

Why: It’s the ultimate splurge/treat.

When Miho Suma tells me something about Japanese food, I listen.

Miho is the owner of Shabu Shabu Zen, the amazing Rancho Mirage restaurant that is, for my money, one of the top places to dine in the valley. A little more than a year ago, she emailed me and urged me to visit Taka Shin, which had just opened in the former Thai Smile space in downtown Palm Springs.

“It is a REAL sushi restaurant,” she wrote, “not mainly serving American style rolls, but nigiri and authentic food. I suggest you to visit and try.”

I told her I would … and a year passed, with her email still highlighted in my inbox.

Then came the last month or so, during which my husband and I both suffered injuries involving broken or dislocated bones. We’re on the mend, fortunately, and we decided that we needed a good restaurant splurge to brighten our moods. Miho’s email came to mind—so I called Taka Shin and made a reservation.

It was time for omakase. It’s a Japanese word that means, more or less, to entrust—the chef would prepare whatever he saw fit. And the eight courses that came to our table ranged from good to fantastic.

First came an appetizer plate with an oyster, monkfish liver and seaweed salad. Second was cucumber salad with crab, followed by an egg custard containing mushrooms, shrimp and edamame. Fourth up was marinated sea bass in miso broth; then we received a tempura plate with shrimp, mushrooms, green beans and lotus root. Our six and seventh courses were sashimi (pictured) and sushi—and every bit of it was fresh and masterfully prepared. The meal concluded with cheese cake—one piece with strawberry, and the other with green tea.

It was $85—worth every penny, and then some. Trust Miho and I when we say that Taka Shin is a gem—whether you’re splurging, or you just want a “normal” authentic Japanese meal.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Sushi Boat

Where: Hamachi Sushi, 31855 Date Palm Drive, No. 11, Cathedral City

How much: $14.99

Contact: 760-832-6160; www.hamachisushicc.com

Why: It’s a great value—and it’s delicious.

It was a Friday, around lunchtime. I was at Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road in Cathedral City to check the Independent’s mailbox. That morning, I’d sent the October issue to press, and after a long week of editing and ad-wrangling and pagination, I was tired and hungry.

After getting my mail at the UPS Store, I wandered a few doors down to Hamachi Sushi. I’d never eaten there before, and fresh fish sounded good.

I perused the menu, which features the items one would expect a Japanese/sushi joint to have. One item in particular stood out, so I chose that as my lunch: The sushi boat, featuring 10 pieces of assorted, chef’s-choice sushi, as well as a California roll, for $14.99. Seeing as the pairs of nigiri on offer at Hamachi are a reasonable $3.99 or more by themselves, this was a fantastic deal. (There’s also a sushi boat on the lunch menu; it’s $3 less, but only includes six pieces of sushi. That’s not as good of a deal, so I went with the “regular” sushi boat.)

I soon enjoyed some tasty miso soup and a small salad (included in the meal). When my lunch arrived a short time later, in a cute boat-shaped ceramic dish, I was impressed: Pairs of tuna, salmon, shrimp, snapper and a marinated fish of some sort were intermingled on the dish with the California roll pieces.

Everything was fresh. Everything was delicious. It was exactly what I was looking for—a filling, tasty lunch that would help me rejuvenate my tired body. It was also a bargain.

Thanks for making my stomach happy—and helping recharge my batteries, Hamachi Sushi. That sushi boat was exactly what I needed.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The lunch special

Where: Joyce’s Sushi, 36101 Bob Hope Drive, No. E1, Rancho Mirage

How much: $13.95 with three choices (as shown); $11.95 with two

Contact: 760-202-8186; joycessushiranchomirage.com

Why: It is tasty—and provides useful information.

Whenever I visit a “normal” Japanese restaurant for the first time, I find it helpful to order a bento box. This allows me to sample a variety of the restaurant’s fare, while giving me information on the restaurant’s overall quality, and an idea of what I might want to order next time.

This is not a perfect system. For example, on my recent, initial visit to Joyce’s Sushi, the three-item lunch special (Joyce’s bento box, essentially; you pick among nine items) told me nothing about the restaurant’s udon or ramen or appetizer offerings, nor did it tell me much about the quality of some of the more elaborate sushi rolls on offer at Joyce’s Sushi.

However, the lunch special (slightly larger dinner specials are also available, at a slightly higher cost) did tell me a lot:

• The quality of the fish at Joyce’s is pretty darned good. I chose the three pieces of sushi over a four-piece California or spicy tuna roll, or the six pieces of sashimi (which come with a $3 upcharge). The tuna, salmon and shrimp pieces I had were all fresh and tasty.

• The tonkatsu is decent, if not spectacular. I selected the fried, breaded pork over the teriyaki options (chicken, beef and salmon), and while the meat was delicious, it was a bit dry.

• The mixed tempura (one shrimp piece, and three vegetable pieces) was all fantastic. The tempura batter was flavorful but not greasy, and the food under the batter was cooked perfectly. The broccoli piece I got was tender—and it still tasted like broccoli.

• The accompaniments were all pretty standard. I liked the addition of mushrooms to the miso soup, but the salad—which looked like it came straight out of a pre-mixed bag—was nothing to get excited about.

Thanks to the lunch special, I learned that Joyce’s Sushi puts out quality food, and the next time I go there, I’ll definitely first consider the sushi and the tempura.

See? Helpful!

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Steve Special sushi roll, enjoyed as part of all-you-can-eat sushi

Where: Edokko Sushi, 69195 Ramon Road, Cathedral City

How much: $19.95 lunch, $23.99 dinner

Contact info: 328-7770; edokkosushicc.com

Why: Because you're hungry, and you looooove tasty sushi rolls

Look, Edokko Sushi ain't Nobu: You are not going to get fresh-off-the-boat toro here. Of course, you're not going to be shelling out $35 for a tiny portion of fish, either.

Instead, you are going to get a decent-enough selection of 30 or so rolls, 16 or so sushi options, and some appetizers (miso soup, gyoza, etc.), as much as you can shove down your gullet, for $19.99 at lunch, or $23.99 at dinner.

Indulgent? Maybe. Gluttonous? Perhaps? A smokin' deal? Absolutely.

The sushi pieces are just fine, but the real reason you will want to check out Edokko is for the sushi rolls: They're tasty, and they come to you fast when the sushi chefs are on their game (which they generally are). The one we most heartily endorse is the "Steve Special" roll—it's the first one on the list—which is quite simple, really: It's a California roll, topped with deep-fried shrimp and a tangy mayonnaise sauce. In an word, it's yummy.

If you're hankering for all-you-can-eat sushi, but you're weighed down by more moderate eaters, never fear: Edokko Sushi also offers an a la carte menu.

But you don't want that. You want all-you-can-eat. And you should start off with the Steve Special roll. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement