All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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Apparently, there are five locations for this restaurant – the one in Hollywood, 2 on Sawtelle on the west side, one on Santa Monica & one in Encino. I ate at the Hollywood location twice in the last week & happened upon one of the Sawtelle ones yesterday while in a driving NIGHTMARE FROM HELL trying to get back east from an aborted lunch attempt on Washington by the pier.
I dragged my boyfriend Miles out there as we had to drop a friend off at a car rental place at Pico & Centinela anyway & the beach seemed too close to ignore. My thinking was that 1) I live in LA & see the ocean less than once a year which is retarded and 2) Miles has come to see me 5 times in 8 months & he has not been taken west of LaBrea in all that time. Seriously. I think the Roosevelt hotel is as far as we have ever ventured.
So – I thought, “Hey – it’s a random Tuesday in March. How bad could it be out there?” The answer, as it turned out, was BAD. Fucking giant families of marauding tourists maneuvering poorly on oversized beach cruisers & dumpy people without shame wearing far less clothing than the 65 degree day demanded. I have a tolerance level below zero for beach bars that have those plastic beer advertising banners flapping outside & way too loud music inside & thatched anything. If there is a sign outside outlining a dress code that says “No baggy clothes, no bandanas, no harassing patrons about sports team favorites, no screaming” etc etc – I know I need to move on. We attempted to get a seat on the upper deck at The Whaler here (stock photo)
but timed our arrival EXACTLY wrong resulting in a half dozen people arriving after us getting choice people-watching seats facing out to the ocean while we sat inside the bar with blaring horrible music & no service. I was made inconsolably infuriated by this injustice – I mean really really stupid mad – and just could not shake it off. I apologized to Miles but just couldn’t stop throwing hate looks over my shoulder at these late arriving interlopers & I couldn’t stop saying, “I am so sorry. I know this is dumb but I am inexplicably & disproportionately enraged by our situation here.” Despite my embarrassment at my own reaction, I just couldn’t recover. “Do you just wanna leave,” Miles asked, completely over my pouty complaints. And I did so we did & it was a smart decision.
Here’s Miles. See? He always LOOKS cranky but seldom is.
At any rate – we got the Hell outta Dodge & spent three days trying to navigate our way back east – absolutely curing Miles of EVER agreeing to go west of Hollywood proper again. It took three days, just to explain, because I made the mistake of also trying to stop into Wertz Brothers on Santa Monica & shop for a new kitchen table. They had nothing so we left there & the next thing you know – I found myself in that web of streets over there including Motor & Federal & whateverthefuck – all of which are on a skewed grid heading in directions my car calls SE or NW. To make it worse – I was trying to find entry ramps for the 10 right at the point that it intersects with the 405 – which is a clusterfuck and my stupid car navigation thing decided to be completely unable to understand the fucking questions I asked her – namely – get me HOME! “Please say street address including the address number and city.” I did – four times & finally turned it off before my rage overwhelmed me & I just drove us into a fiery death by intentional high speed crash into a construction zone.
Anyway – three days later – we got off the 101, safely back in Hollywood. And we went to Sushi Stop – for our second visit.
The door at Sushi Stop has a box painted on it that says $2.75 in it – and the explanation for that is that most two-piece sushi dishes are $2.75. Insanely cheap. Look at the menu:
Four-piece rolls are $4. And Miles ordered the “Mini Teriyaki Bowl” (which was a full-sized bowl in my opinion) of chicken & rice – enough for a lunch meal all by itself – and that was only $2.75.
The fact is – I can’t afford NOT to eat here! Here is the rest of the menu:
Miles’ initial fears that the sushi would suck ($2.75 does seem too good to be true) were quickly dispelled by our first visit. I noticed that, on Yelp, there is a fair amount of complaining about this place but I find it delightful. I’m not sure what people expect at this price point & some folks don’t seem to realize that a person doesn’t have to LOVE every Goddamn thing on a menu to make the restaurant a good one. For example – Miles didn’t like the seared albacore & crispy onions for $8 (pictured at the top) but I did. And look at this crazy tower of raw tuna ($5):
On our second visit – I intentionally ordered a few things that seemed the most risky – namely the baked green mussels ($2.75)
which Miles seemed to love (and he is very, very finicky) but I found the mayo on it a tad sweet. Plus hot mayo is kind of icky. But for $2.75 – fuck it.
I also ordered a spicy scallop roll ($2.75) seen here with some seared albacore sushi ($2.75):
The scallops were really fresh & and did not have too much mayonnaise. Yellowtail sushi is $4 but great:
We also tried the $2.75 stuffed jalapeno
which was good but the spicy tuna inside gets cooked when they fry the jalapeno & it comes out looking more like ground pork or chicken. It actually freaked me out when I took the first bite & had to review the menu to make sure I hadn’t overlooked a meat ingredient. I also ordered & enjoyed the Crispy Rice appetizer ($2.75) but neglected to photograph it. Sorry!
Here is the spicy albacore tartare ($4)
which I loved. And here is the room:
And here is the bill from one of our visits – including two glasses of wine & a beer:
Without alcohol – we could have stuffed ourselves for $20. I don’t know how you can really gripe about that, unless you end up with food poisoning – which we did not. Either time.
So – I say, ignore the haters. If you want the option of trying a bunch of stuff with very little financial risk or if, like me, you like to give the finger to the aesthetic of culinary decency & stuff yourself sick with sushi like a competitive eater – horrifying chefs & staff alike – Sushi Stop is the place for you. The fact that there are TWO (at 2222 & 2053) on Sawtelle (in the cutest little hidden corridor of Asian restaurants) says a bit about its popularity. So – cast caution to the wind, wear loose pants & grab your nearly maxed out credit card & run to Sushi Stop. And definitely try that Spicy Tuna Tartare for $5. It is the deal of the century!