I’ve heard so many great things about SUGARFISH’s sister restaurant, KazuNori, in DTLA. The hand rolls at SUGARFISH are some of the best I’ve ever tasted, so I assume KazuNori is the same. The perfectly roasted and deeply flavored nori is what really makes makes the handrolls spectacular. I’ve been so intrigued as to how or where you can get nori like this, but I’ve concluded it is not something you can buy. Kiyomizu recently opened in the hip and happening Downtown Santa Ana. Naturally, it has drawn comparisons to KazuNori being a casual hand roll focused sushi joint. Many Yelpers have rejoiced over the option for delicious hand rolls in a less distant location. The place is pretty small with probably 6 seats and maybe 10 or more standing spots at the bar. The concept is simple. You can order hand rolls a la carte at $4-$7, or in sets of 3-6 at $10-$20. The best value is to go with a set.
The set of 4 rolls rings in at $13. It starts with a daily roll, which on this day, happened to be albacore. It was a fresh and clean. A good way to start.
Next, you get to choose between scallop or cucumber. It was not a difficult decision in the very least. I was surprised that they didn’t use chintzy bay scallops here, but rather larger sweet scallops cut into smaller pieces. It also was not overly mayo-ed like I was expecting. Everything about this allowed the natural freshness of the scallops to shine. Very good.
Easily my favorite handroll of all time, and Kiyomizu’s version was the best out of the lot. It did not top SUGARFISH’s version since the nori isn’t as deep and earthy, but the crab itself was well balanced between crab and mayo.
Instead of choosing between blue crab and spicy tuna for my 3rd roll, I opted to try the spicy tuna for my 4th roll instead of the set menu’s salmon roll. They graciously accommodated my request. I have never had a spicy tuna so frickin’ spicy! It kind of made the whole roll less enjoyable because I kept having to pause and breathe and take sips of water. I might have to skip this one next time.
Fishing Zebra Man stayed with the set menu and had the salmon roll as his 4th option. He gave it 2 thumbs up.
I thoroughly enjoyed the casual lunch here. The place was pretty empty for our midweek lunch, so service was quick. This isn’t really a place where food can sit around before it is served or eaten. Handrolls like this are best eaten within a few minutes or else the nori loses its fresh crisp. I give Kiyomizu extra props for bringing something unique to the OC area. It probably isn’t as amazing as KazuNori, but it’s good enough for me. If they could only just get the same nori as SUGARFISH or even Ohshima, this place could be so money!
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here