Yasubay’s Japanese Restaurant
219 Saviers Road, suite a

Sometimes an aimless drive can be rather refreshing in Ventura County. We started in Moorpark, headed west to Ventura, went through Ventura Harbor and then toured around the Channel Islands Harbor. We thought that we might find a place that stood out, something new and different, but we eventually defaulted to a web search for sushi nearby. Yasubay’s Japanese Restaurant had good reviews so, why not?

Mango and avocado salad with julienned cucumber atop lettuce in a rice vinegar dressing

Yasubay’s sashimi plate with ahi, salmon and albacore.

Veggie house special noodle plate with carrots, broccoli and cabbage with glass noodles in a light sauce.

Minced spicy tuna with a light sweet teriyaki , maybe hoison, sauce with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes.

Tofu agedashi: tender tofu comparable in texture to a dense but fluffy scrambled egg, lightly fried but not greasy at all, and sitting in a vinegary concoction with green onions.

Nestled in a small strip mall among a Mexican bakery, various odd shops and a massage business right past the Five Points intersection, finding parking was akin to an obstacle course, so be prepared. Thankfully, the one open spot was right at the front door. Street parking might be easier, just a thought.

We were greeted right away by Jeff, a quiet but friendly server dressed in black. He told us to choose a table and he followed with menus. The ambiance is simple: walls painted in peach/pink, hints of Japanese artistry hung around and a modest sushi bar. We really didn’t know what to expect but when a father and young daughter strolled in as if they were regulars, we thought, maybe there is something special to this place.

After our drive, I had become rather famished. When I saw the prices on the menu, I ordered three dishes for myself and figured I would eat some of my companion’s as well — he ordered the lunch box and Yasubay sashimi plate. I added a Diet Coke to my order, for good measure.

Without much delay, out came my order. First, the tofu agedashi. This Japanese amuse-bouche of sorts hit the spot: tender tofu comparable in texture to a dense but fluffy scrambled egg, lightly fried but not greasy at all, and sitting in a vinegary concoction with green onions. It went down easily and quickly. “It was phenomenal,” my companion said.

Next out, the house special noodle plate. Right off the griddle, the glass noodles were hot on the tongue, but saturated with soy sauce — maybe a combination of flavors. It came with freshly prepared and cooked sliced cabbage, julienned carrots and pieces of broccoli. I am not a fan of using the word perfect to describe food, but the preparation was just that. The vegetables even maintained their crispness along with the noodles being soft but not mushy. It was a full meal in itself for $6.

The mango and avocado salad featured fine strips of cucumber atop a bed of lettuce sprinkled with black sesame seeds and rice vinegar; it was all so fresh. We just kept wondering how we didn’t know about this place sooner.

Out came the real test, the Yasubay sashimi plate with thick cuts of bite-size salmon, ahi and albacore. It’s truly hard to explain the taste of fish, but we could have sworn they were just caught in the last day or so. I don’t know how this was mastered, but we gobbled that up just as quickly as the tofu. On the side was freshly minced spicy tuna with a teriyaki sauce drizzled on top, sprinkled lightly with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes, resting on a bed of sticky white rice. We both agreed that was some of the best spicy tuna we had tried in a long time. I got one bite…

Next out, the lunch box meal with thick strips of well-done teriyaki beef, along with the standard but crispy tempura vegetables, California rolls and rice. The preparation was unquestionably handled with care by someone who takes pride in the work. We stuffed ourselves plenty, still had leftovers, but did I mention the miso? That was served right off the bat and proved to be a welcome, warm and comforting familiar dish.

Too often people are focused on what is new and shiny and overwhelmingly busy. There are some truly wonderful restaurants with great service and food that are just off the beaten path. After discovering the treasure that is Yasubay, I look forward to finding more gems hidden in the midst of otherwise unremarkable locations.