After waking from some of our usual afternoon naps, we noticed that the hour was approaching the time for dinner. With inclination towards making a new discovery in the Cupertino area, we took ourselves to Yelp. From there, we stumbled upon the newly opened establishment of I.Sushi & Grill. Having it be found in the same plaza as my optometrist’s office, as well as my friend’s apartment, brought about a familiarity that made the decision painless for the both of us that Thursday night. We take to the car and easily arrived around 7:00 PM to the restaurant.
From the outside, you can see the restaurant’s name illuminating from its light blue neon sign. Below it, you can see the confection of matching white and blue Christmas lights hanging behind the upper panel windows, which distinguishes this freshly opened restaurant from the stores neighboring it.
With the bold, clean lines of the outline font used to assemble the aesthetically pleasing neon sign, I gathered that I.Sushi & Grill adopted a modern theme. Uncertain though, we made our approach to the door.
Upon entering, we were welcomed in by the friendly staff. Once in, we remarked the open and airy atmosphere through the partitioned segments of the sushi restaurant: the dining area with bar and table seating, the sushi station, the kitchen, and the drink area.
With the knowledge that this plaza has store layouts that are usually limiting, we commend this restaurant’s ability to make the space stay welcoming. Their decision to have no walls separating the service staff and the customers was a well thought out one as it made for optimized and instantaneous interactions between the waiters and waitresses.
All I can say is that the presumption made outside from the neon sign was nothing more than spot on as the modern theme really shined through I.Sushi & Grill. From the horizontally running reclaimed wood walls to the dark gray walls, each side of the restaurant paints a different environment for a person. While the wood based choices give character to the restaurant, the gray walls provide a sense of elegance for the diners. Centrally aligned on the diners’ side of the wall is their silver framed logo – a simplistic image of a sliced up fish – of the restaurant. Moving away from the walls, the restaurant follows a coherent modern theme with the complementary white colors introduced by spot lighting, white orchid decorations, and contemporary tableware.
Seating-wise, two other couples were already there; one seated by the bar and another side by side at a table. Although it was almost empty, the servers did not excuse themselves for their responsibilities to the customer. They were very friendly as I can see them respectfully interact with each of the other diners. In fact, they helped recommend me a dish, when I was choosing between two, by telling me that the one I ended up ordering had more variety (and bang for my buck). On top of that, basic duties such as taking down food orders, refilling tea, and providing the services during the end of the meal were all an A+ in my book. Additionally, possibly because we were pioneer diners to the place or they simply want us to pay them another visit, they provided us with not only one but two complementary dishes, which I will be describing later on in my food section.
All right! Without further ado, let’s talk about some of the fantastic dishes I was able to try out that night! One thing that is evident in the presentation of their dishes was their effort. To me, the energy used to plate their dishes not only made the food look appetizing but also showed that the respect they had for their food and their customers.
Like a few other Japanese restaurants, they provide edamame beans (free). I love how they opted for bamboo holding bowls. While the restaurant may be modern, these slight touches of Asian influences always helps jog one’s memory of the Japanese meal to come. Personally, I would enjoy them more if they added a touch of sea salt on top.
This one came as a surprise, as they decided to give us something off the menu: tempura mushrooms (complementary). The part that I enjoyed about these little pieces of deep fried goodness is that the mushrooms were able to retain their water content. What this meant for diners was scrumptious, juicy yet crispy bites. With the addition of some Japanese mayo and a helping of leafy greens from the bedding below, the tempura mushrooms made for an excellent starting snack.
For an interesting mix of raw delicacies, we decided to start our night off with the oyster special ($8.00). Because the combination was strange, I decided against devouring this large spoonful in one big gulp. Instead, I tasted each component individually, starting with the uni.
The portion of uni from this appetizer was one of the better uni that I ever had, to be honest. With the soft, melt in your mouth texture, along side the subtle flavors that captured the taste of the sea, I was pleasantly surprised.
From this pleasing bite, I moved onto the quail egg with a few slices of green onion. As I chose to pop its yolk in my mouth, for the sake of not wanting to accidentally let it slide down my throat, I was able to conclude that this morsel was also pretty delectable.
Finally, in high spirits, I slurped the spoon’s last component: the oyster. It had a nice seafood taste to it that was balanced by the slightly acidic and vinegary dressing. All in all, this luscious appetizer was worth the try.
Being a fan of hamachi, I could not opt out on getting the negi hamachi hand roll ($4.00). Interestingly sliced into thin rectangular slices paired with sprigs of watercress thinly chopped green onions, this very refreshing pink hued appetizer tasted so fresh. Not only that, each bite had a sizable piece of hamachi. In fact, this was true even down to the very bottom!
Lisa decided to try out their kasu don ($8.00), which was served with miso soup. Needless to say, the portions were very generous if you compare the size of the bowl to the soup below. Their kasu was actually double layered and, taste-wise, delicious. The kasu was nice and crisp while the egg and onions gave the bite a nice soft chew. The subtle addition of green onion and sesame seed toppings provided minimal effects on counteracting the friedness of the overall dish though.
As for me, I got the chirashi sushi ($15.00), as the waiter recommended. It had a wide variety of sashimi (shrimp, squid, tuna, salmon, saba, surf clam, hamachi, and sea bream), so to me, it served as a sample as to how fresh their fishes are.
As always, I enjoyed the tamago, but I also enjoyed their saba, which had a nice fishy taste. Although this dish may not be a crowd pleaser, I found it to be quite delicious. Lisa’s favorite was the salmon, as it was extremely soft and tender, which almost felt like it melts when you put it in your mouth.
Aside from the focus of the dish, the sides (wakame seaweed, sliced carrots and cucumbers, ginger, wasabi, and nori komi furikake for the rice) were just as excellent complements that filled the gaps between bites of sashimi. Something I did note from this dish was that their sashimi was cut in a unconventional way.
Once again, the visuals for this bowl were amazing; from the different colors and textures to the fine details of wrapping a watercress with a slice of sashimi and roe.
Although we were quite full already from the meal and had sufficient leftovers for Lisa the day after, the waiter (once again) gave us some green tea ice cream (complementary). Kind of reminded me of the green tea ice cream you can get from 99 Ranch as it had a shallow green tea taste. But, it was complementary, so hey, I can’t complain. Anyway, it was a nice ending to the meal.
Overall, I would come back here again, as I can try out their other variety of dishes. The quality here is pretty good for the price you pay. Plus, the service is great. I can see its popularity once business picks up. But, for now, it seems like a quiet and cozy place to dine in. Until then, it’s fancy leftover time. 😛