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.