As this is my first restaurant critique I decided to go local. (Although the other reason was that ‘Sushi Planet‘ is within walking distance from my home and I had a hankering for sake.)
The restaurant is nestled on the northwest corner of Westlake Boulevard and Hampshire Road, across from Citi Bank. You may not know it is there, however the flags, twinkle lights, and bright neon “OPEN” sign on the door might catch the eye.
As I entered the restaurant I was greeted with a loud noise from the waiting staff that set me back slightly and made me think I had done something wrong. This might just have been my fragile English sensibilities, however I am reassured that this was a greeting and everyone’s smiling faces was a good thing.
In hindsight I suppose this was not the best place to critique first in my prepubescent career, however the wife wanted sushi and again, I say SAKE!
This particular sushi restaurant runs a 50% off menu on your basic sushi and maki roles. This does help the economically minded person in today’s financial downturn. (Thumbs up from me for financial cost effectiveness.)
We ordered two of each of the following sushi: Salmon, Yellow Tail, and Tuna. Each portion contains 2 pieces. These all arrived within 5 minutes of ordering with a basic presentation. But, honestly, there is not much you can do with only 2 ingredients.
Something I did notice was that all the plates and dishes on each table surrounding us was different. It was as though the owners had bought only 4 dishes of each set at a yard sale. All the serving plates were different also. I know this is not something that will change a flavor but it does add towards presentation marks.
The Sushi that came was very tasty: The fish was fresh and melt-in-your- mouth scrumptious. The portions of fish were larger than I had seen at other local and more expensive restaurants, but were not too big.
As we were eating another part of our order arrived: Green Muscles. Four muscles served on a green stoneware plate with a line of sticky rice under them to stop their sliding around. They were big and juicy muscles with a creamy mayonnaise based topping that had been baked slightly, allowing the top to brown. They were moist and cooked to tender perfection. Now, I have a big mouth but each muscle took two bites to devour! This was not a disadvantage as it meant I could savor them for a longer period of time.
Our Black Oysters (which was one of the special listed that night) came out next, cooked and garnished with a green garlic topping. I found them to be tougher and less tasty than the Green Muscles dish. This was not something I would have again as I prefer my oysters freshly opened and with a dash of lemon.
We finished the oyster special and waited for the next part of our order. People around us were getting order after order, so we waited, and waited… After about 20 minutes the waitress asked if we wanted anything else. A bit frustrated at this point, we informed her we hadn’t had all of our order in the first place. Five minutes after we had spoken with the waitress the rest of our order arrived. It was obviously a rush job and someone must have forgotten to make it in the first place but we were relieved enough to continue eating the California and Philadelphia rolls in front of us.
These two rolls are a couple of basic rolls you would find in most sushi restaurants however, the ends had been squashed and the presentation was not as good as we had seen them on adjacent tables. I found the cream cheese in the Philadelphia roll to be overpowering of the salmon and the other ingredients; I felt as if I was eating a block of Philadelphia cream cheese rather than a sushi roll. (My Jewish wife, on the other hand, had no problem eating my portion.)
At this point it was around 8pm in the evening on a Saturday night and nearly every table was taken. There are roughly around 47 available seats indoors and 25 outside on the terrace that overlooks Westlake Boulevard.
The service was neither special nor bad. Most of the customers looked like they were regulars as the waitresses seemed to be familiar with them and made more of an effort by anticipating their orders. These particular guests were treated almost like family which made me want to come back to get such a special treatment.
The restaurant itself has a modern but sporty atmosphere. Three TVs play sports (muted) with a mix of modern music (rap, pop and country).
To sum up the evening, Sushi Planet in Westlake Village is a cost-effective, enjoyable, less formal sushi restaurant. It’s identity is both American and Japanese with a personal service that gets better the more you dine there. The fish is fresh and tender with a menu that has much more on it than the basic 50% deals we ordered that night.
If you want sushi and don’t know where to go, try the Sushi Planet located in Westlake Village for a 4/5 Star experience that is cost-effective.