Sushi Tanaka, Simi Valley, California
I grew up in Simi Valley, California. We're not exactly known as the hot bed of culinary excellence. Most families out here came to settle in a quiet suburb to get away from all the downsides of Los Angeles. I hated growing up in Simi Valley while I was in Simi Valley as everything that was worth doing was always 30 minutes to a couple of hours away, but as I get older, you learn to appreciate the quiet. Almost 30 years later, Simi Valley is hardly recognizable as many of the rural touches have been replaced by modern conveniences and corporations.
Restaurants like Sushi Tanaka do not fit into Simi Valley. Online reviews will say "gem". This is definitely an anomaly.
For my dad's birthday, my brother suggested that we go to Sushi Tanaka. After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Todd had a wild hair up his ass about going to this restaurant. With all of our spouses not really being into authentic sushi (Mom likes everything cooked, Tiana likes "white girl" sushi while Holly was just introduced to sushi recently), my dad's birthday at a traditional sushi restaurant was just going to be me, my brother and my dad. While not exactly sushi connoisseurs, my dad, brother and I know when we walk into an actual sushi restaurant. We don't exactly look for California Rolls and the sauce bombed abominations when eating sushi. The three of us really appreciate a solid piece of fresh fish. Big red flags are cross pollination in the menu. If you're at a Japanese restaurant and there is kimchi, pad thai, chow mein, or non-Japanese sushi chefs, I'll probably order my miso soup and that's it. Or maybe some udon or ramen, but I'll stay away from sushi. My dad prefers sashimi while my favorite is Albcore. At least that's what I thought...
Going into Sushi Tanaka, we knew we would be seeing sushi and fish we've never tried before and that we may run into some items that we've had before that we didn't like. All three of us told each other there would be no limits during the dinner. Omakase allows the chef to dictate the meal, choosing courses however he pleases. Knowing we have no food allergies, we told the hostess that nothing was off the menu.
We started off with a sake that apparently is only available to Japanese restaurants and not available to the general public. Again, when in Rome...
This was pretty much my face the entire time. I had goosebumps while eating some of the pieces as my brain scrambled to find an association to anything I've eaten before. Some of the preparations and ingredients I'd only seen in TV shows, but here was the chef, rocking the night away with some classic BB King and Jimi Hendrix while practicing his mastered craft. Balance. Every single plated item was exactly balanced. Nothing too sharp or overwhelming as even fish I've had before didn't even seem real. I was questioning every piece of sushi I'd ever eaten before. What kind of raw deal did we get? I've broken sushi. There is no way I can eat sushi ever again, unless of course it's at this caliber. I'm ruined.
There is no way I can break down the ENTIRE two hour dining experience as I remained as present as possible to enjoy my dad and brother's company. If you're looking for the finest culinary experience ever offered to a sushi fan in the US, welcome to Simi Valley. HAHA!
- This is NOT your normal sushi restaurant. It might seat 10 people TOTAL. Very quaint and understated.
- If you like a lot of sauce on your sushi, if you expect a ton of wasabi/soy sauce, if your expect tempura and bento boxes, you are at the wrong restaurant and this sushi may not be for you. I don't think I even saw anything else on the menu.
- Please do yourself a favor and go omakase. If you have the time and money, go big or even bigger with the unlimited omekase
- The sake here is legit. Share with your chef.
- Omakase takes time. Plan accordingly as this is an experience you want to gently tread through. Expect a relaxing, quiet evening with a couple close friends.
- The chef is very accommodating to food allergies and sensitivities. If you really can't eat octopus, let them know in the beginning.
- I don't even think they have forks. They might. You shouldn't need one though.
- With much fine dining, I have definitely left hungry. I did not leave the omekase hungry, but I could have stopped for a taco or dessert. No hate on the food, you are literally eating a piece of sushi at a time.
- I heavily would recommend reservations as this place books fast.
- I recommend the seats at the sushi bar away from the door so you can watch the magic and craftsmanship behind the counter. If you're into food porn like I am, this is like dinner theater.
3977 Cochran Street
Simi Valley, California 93063
Open Tuesday - Saturday, 6 PM to 10 PM
There is no way I can break down the ENTIRE two hour dining experience as I remained as present as possible to enjoy my dad and brother's company.