A black wooden door sandwiched between the tan stucco facade of a local restaurant is reminiscent of a modern speakeasy.
Located on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, Crazy Tokyo Sushi has been in business for more than 20 years. While the alley parking behind the restaurant can be tricky, there is often enough metered spaces out front. Parking in those spaces is free after 8 p.m.
Once seated at either a booth, table or bar, the amber glow of the ceiling lamps provides ample light to view the atmosphere. Wooden oak panels line the walls and other decoration is sparse with the exception of the wall of colorful sake bottles behind the sushi bar.
And the only thing better than Crazy Tokyo’s premier selection of traditional Japanese sake, is their sushi.
Happy hour is every hour and the selection of rolls, fresh fish, and side dishes span the whole back menu with prices as low as $1.69.
A plate of steaming hot edamame is the perfect appetizer to begin an evening meal. Lightly salted, the pea pods contain large green pearls that meet your tongue with saltiness that is almost sweet.
If misou soup strikes a hunger cord on a cold afternoon, a medium sized cup costs only 99 cents.
For those who are unacquainted with the cuisine, a laminated diagram of the many types of sushi hang at eye level on the wall at each booth.
However, the quality of chopsticks are hit and miss. If you don’t want to saw away endlessly at loose strips of splintered wood, look for the longer, thicker chopsticks Crazy Tokyo offers. They are normally in a thicker white paper package.
Also, for the quality of food and warm atmosphere, the restaurant’s choice in music is irritable. Pop songs that are on a downtrend like Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ stream on a loop and don’t complement the warm low light vibe of the atmosphere.
For sports enthusiasts, a large HDTV is stationed at the front broadcasting the latest football game. But if you’re there to enjoy the food, the combination of problematic music and TV are a major distraction.
Ordering cards are provided with spaces to mark the number of orders and type of fish customers want. The attentive staff members are quick to pick up the card so meals arrive on the table as soon as possible.
Raw fish orders are normally served first and are separated from cooked rolls on a separate platter.
Crazy Tokyo is not stingy on the amount of fresh red ginger and doughy wasabi that accompanies each plate. Low sodium and original soy sauce are available at the customer’s preference.
In the main menu under ‘new Crazy Tokyo specials,’ the crunchy sweetheart roll is one of the best things on the menu.
Wrapped in warm sticky rice, fresh water eel is combined with creamy avocado and spicy crab meat. Crisp tempura flakes engulf the outside, and the roll is topped with eel sauce. The sauce provides just the right amount of bite to the flavor and tempura flakes add crunchiness to balance out the soft textures of the avocado, eel, and mildly spicy crab meat.
This is a good roll to finish a meal with as the sweetness of all the combined flavors mirrors desert.
Located on the Happy Hour menu, the shrimp tempura roll is a classic dish that does not disappoint. The roll contains large golden tempura shrimp, cucumber, and smelt eggs, wrapped in sticky rice and a seaweed layer.
While there are no frills to this roll, a dip in soy sauce with a small glob of wasabi softens the texture of the seaweed and complements the salty flavor of the tempura shrimp.
The dessert menu, while short, is remarkably sweet. Finish off a night of sushi with a ball of deep fried green tea or vanilla ice cream the size of a fist.
Or, if that is too much ice cream and deep fried goodness, settle for an order of Mochi. Crazy Tokyo provides two balls with each order. Flavors include: vanilla, strawberry, green tea, coffee, mango or chocolate.
Ultimately, besides the top notch quality of Crazy Tokyo’s sushi, the extremely reasonable prices make the restaurant frequent-able.
They are open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m, and Sunday from 11:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m.