Hey sushi lovers! Are you in a rut? Do you feel that your taste buds need to be startled by something completely new, completely different? Something that would rock your world.
Maybe Mexican sushi will do the trick. We have a couple of options for this odd fusion cuisine, Sushinola on Niles Street and Bocados Sushi Bar on Coffee Road, which opened a few months ago in an old La Mina location. It turns out that in various parts of L.A., Mexican sushi has been expanding with mixed results. (I read an article in a Phoenix paper in which a food critic was hoping it would go away real soon). It actually originated in Sinaloa within the past decade, and since many of the regional cuisines of Mexico depend on seafood, it seemed like a natural fit, especially given the country’s history with ceviche.
However purists may not like that some of these Mexisushis don’t offer wasabi and ginger (Bocados does, thank God) or top rolls with steaks or melted jack cheese (ugh) or even fry the whole thing like a chimichanga. Here the influence of the North American cuisine is more artistic, more subtle, such as the great spicy garlic edamame appetizer ($7), which offers the soy beans sautéed with butter and garlic (like you get elsewhere) but with the addition of chili paste and a citrus spritz. That works. It seems thoughtful, not radical.
I like the way the kitchen at Bocados seems to find that middle ground, offering Mexican-influenced sushi without getting so goofy it seems sacrilegious. On our visit we ordered what our waiter said were three of the more popular fresh rolls: the Pacifico ($13), the Philadelphia roll ($11) and the El Chapo roll ($14).
That last one I think best showed how the kitchen is creative without being ridiculous. The inside has real crab meat, cucumber and avocado, but what’s on top really makes it soar: Cajun tuna, cilantro, thin cut jalapeno rings, just a bit of Sriracha, cilantro, red onions and a creamy chili oil that is the perfect finishing touch. It’s spicy tuna with a bit of extra kick.
Our waiter also recommended the Rey roll ($12), which is spicy tuna with albacore, Sriracha, fried onion and goma sauce (that sesame seed dipping sauce). We’ll sample that one next time.
The other rolls were also satisfying, the Pacifico with salmon and shrimp on top, and on the inside the same crab, avocado and cucumber. The Philly roll was somewhat similar but adding fresh asparagus and cream cheese on the inside, salmon on top. Maybe less Mexican influence than the El Chapo, but still satisfying.
I was a bit surprised when La Mina, the previous occupant, closed because it had always seemed to me like a hopping place with a full parking lot. But maybe it wasn’t as profitable as the other one on Gosford, the one south of White Lane, which could also be described that way. Anyway my companion was truly impressed with the remodel done here, which really adds to the dining experience. The wall opposite the door where you enter has floor to ceiling white stacked stone, a strong contrast to the dark wood floors and the overall black and red color scheme. There’s also festoon pendant lighting, misters on the patio (though no one was out there on this hot August night) and the bar is quite inviting and the noise level is conducive to conversations.
The happy hour is impressive with a list of 10 rolls for $7.50, a $12 sushi combo and drinks from $3 to $5. In addition they have an “all you can eat” offer on Tuesdays for $27 that includes rolls, appetizers and sushi nigiri.