Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sushi 5* - Tustin

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is the same Sushi 5 I reviewed back December of 2006. The same Sushi 5 that marked my first foray into kaiten sushi, otherwise known as conveyer belt sushi.

Since then, I moved on. Despite it being within blocks from me, when I got the hankering to attend a sushi parade, my choice has been Kaisen Sushi in Santa Ana. There were more customers there, which meant more turnover. As Martha Stewart might say, turnover is always a "good thing" with revolving sushi.

Sushi 5 was a ghost town compared to Kaisen. Although their prices were reasonably low, hardly anyone bit. All that was missing was an errant tumbleweed to bounce by. Maybe crickets.

The revolving sushi concept wasn't working here.

Case in point: I had lunch with a co-worker a few months ago. We were the only customers. And there's nothing sadder than to to see a lone piece of sushi ride on a ever-looping conveyor belt, on a never-ending victory lap, waving to an audience of two.

Funny part was that even as we ordered our items fresh from the menu, the itamae had no other choice but to send it rolling on down the line.

Since we were seated at the far end of the restaurant, the elapsed time was nothing short of comedic. It was like like we were waiting at the airport baggage claim while the taxi was idling. In the middle of it, my impatience and hunger got the best of me: I got up and plucked our sushi orders mid-journey.

The owners at Sushi 5 got wise to this problem. They've recently ripped out all the conveyors, built a traditional long bar in its place.

Don't get me wrong: The concept of revolving sushi is not dead. As we speak, a new revolving sushi place called Kula is being developed at the Diamond Jamboree shopping center in Irvine.

But it is dead at Sushi 5. Dead, gone and nearly forgotten.

What they didn't do away with are the bargains. Sushi 5 now offers a special deal (a permanent one, by the looks of it), where you pick 5 kinds with 2 pieces each from the picture list for $11.95 (which also includes a bowl of miso soup and a salad).

That's 10 in total, at about $1.20 a piece.

The best way to do it is to bring a friend and have them pick out items that you haven't scoped. When you share your bounty, you both will make out tasting ten altogether different pieces.

So, how is it? I'll tell you now that it can't touch Sushi Shibucho or Sushi Wasabi, which shouldn't surprise you. But then you're not spending $40-$100 per per head either.

If you want me to get specific, Sushi 5's salad was a bit overdressed; the miso, solid; and the sushi, virtually unchanged from what I said about it the first time around.

The crab flaked like crab. The scallop gets drowned in mayo. The surf clams crunched. And the Cajun tuna tasted like Emeril "bammed" it.

Sushi 5 is good and decent and cheap. Good enough and cheap enough to prove that the words "value" and "sushi" are not mutually exclusive. And now at Sushi 5, with less travel time.

Sushi 5
13962 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

*Update (July 27, 2009): Reader dh has informed me that Sushi 5 shuttered on Saturday July 25, which was a day after I had this meal. Confirmation to follow later today.

Traditions - Tustin


At 8:15 AM, Blogger Diana said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Diana said...

Oops, deleted on accident. sushi 5 just closed this weekend - their last night was on Saturday :(

At 8:22 AM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

What a nice name for the restaurant and the "Happy Choice"! Funny that in the happy choice that you pick five different types of sushi- same number as the restaurant!

Great photos in the post. The sushi makes my mouth water. I have a difficult time taking pictures of raw tuna! What was supposed to be a deep red for bluefin tuna ended up becoming a bright watermelon red in the photo. I'll have to edit it.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


WHAAA?? I was there on Friday! If they closed the day after, then this is the timeliest untimely post of my blogging career.

Thanks for the update!


Unfortunately, as dh mentioned in the bombshell above, this place had their last night the day after I had my meal. I will confirm later today.

If they're closed, then Happy Choice wasn't so happy!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Whoa, seriously?? I was stoked when you told me about this in the email. I had never been before but thought I would definitely give the new special a try. Boo.

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Marvin said...

Too bad your review didn't run before they closed, could have given them more hope! Do you know how long it's been since they ripped out the conveyor belts?

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I do miss Kaisen. Wait I miss conveyor belt sushi period :-(

At 9:57 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Boo is right! You can tell I was excited about the deal and the change. But I guess I have to just be thankful that I tried it before the end. I intended this post to mark their comeback, instead it became a eulogy. Insert Michael Jackson analogy here.


Not sure my little ol' blog could've rescued them, but I could've at least given them my own repeat business. So sad.

Apparently, if I go by Yelp postings, Sushi 5's been revolving-belt free since March of this year. So I was a little late to the game on that one. I couldn't have been later either. I heard from the latest Yelp post that the waitress didn't even show up on the last day. That would've been too late!


Kaisen, I hope, is still around...KNOCK on WOOD!

At 2:09 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

I had sushi last weekend, too. Twice, actually. At a familiar place on Saturday (which was my birthday, which is why I got extra sushi goodness), and a new place on Sunday. Both were enjoyable, but the new (to us) place charged $6 for one piece of toro that just tasted like plain old tuna. :-(

I miss conveyor belt sushi. There was a place we went to all the time in Illinois that had it.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous JB said...

Sushi 5 is 10-100 [dead body].

There was no Happy Ending for Happy Choice. :-(

It's funny, even comments are dying
[being deleted]
in this post.
There's just death in the air.....

For the foreseeable future, you are going to be viewed as the Grim Reaper to local restaurant owners, Elmo

At 8:28 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I don't know how warm it is over there, but it is hellishly hot here. As such, sushi is on my mind all the time. If there was a better summer dish, it would have to be made of ice slush!


HA! "No Happy Ending"! Why didn't I think of that and...I *AM* like the Grim Reaper!

Perhaps I should give people a heads up of where I'm going to next, so that they can get in their last meals. ;-)

Or maybe I can use my powers for good: I think McDonald's and Taco Bell have had a good run, don't you?

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Inez Valentina said...

Damn it, I was so going to eat here for lunch today.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger imjustatree said...

lol the ending of this post is so solemn! i've never experienced kaiten sushi before but same day i will....sounds like fun.

mr. elmo, do you have any recs for mexican restaurants in the oc area? particularly ones w/ good soups?

At 1:49 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I was going to eat there weekly!


Good soups at a Mexican place, eh? Hmm. That's a good question. The only Mexican soup I've had was the menudo at Tacos Jaliscos #2 in Bellflower. They make it on weekends. Let's see if others chime in with suggestions!

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

Actually I would direct Sawyer to OC Mex food to do a search. Christian's gotta have a few places that would fit the bill.

Still laughing/sympathizing about you reviewing Sushi 5 and it closing the next day. Crazy.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger mark said...

Haha, I totally know that feeling when you're watching the 'lone piece' of sushi make rounds on the conveyor belt. AWESOME description!

At 8:46 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


*Slapping my head* OF COURSE! Christian! How could I not suggest his blog for all your OC Mexican Food needs. Also, now that my brain is working, Gustavo Arellano also has an encyclopedia's worth of Mexican joints on Hole-in-the-Wall-Life at OC Weekly.


O lonely tuna,
Endlessly circling the store,
Ignored, uneaten.

I knew there was a haiku in there somewhere!

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

When you're eating raw fish, I'd be more interested in freshness and taste than 'value'...

The food here was not fresh at all-they'd only get a new shipment once a week.

I understand that one needs to continously update a blog. But, if you've got nothing worthwhile to say, then is there anything wrong with not updating it once in awhile?


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