Yokozuna Sushi
250 W. Harvard Blvd., suite D
Santa Paula

There are plenty of reasons to go out for sushi: 1.) You want something light and different but oddly filling. 2.) You grew up fishing with family on the ocean and it brings back good memories. 3.) You enjoy unique flavors and textures packed into one bite. 4.) You have had your fill of traditional Italian, Mexican and barbecue options.

Inside Yokozuna Santa Paula

Considering all the above, we chose Yokozuna Sushi in Santa Paula, not only because Santa Paula is rather sparse of such options, but because the success of Yokozuna allowed the owner to have two locations, the other in Oxnard. In a quiet strip mall off the “could use a decent repaving” Harvard Boulevard in Santa Paula, we ordered ours to go. The dining room has a handful of tables and a sushi bar, with obvious Japanese-themed art and décor, but we often prefer the ambiance of home and our choice of movies to go with it.

Yokozuna sea urchin sushi

My companion and I talked about ordering sea urchin, something he had never tried despite growing up on the docks of Ventura Harbor. I recall only trying it once, while living in Fresno, with a friend who made the most unusual face trying the mustard yellow, briny, soft delicacy. Many people might hesitate, given its resemblance to a tastebud-covered tongue, but we have no fear of the extraordinary. On our list, jalapeño poppers, the appetizer sashimi cocktail, muy chignon roll and two pieces of sea urchin. Mind you, if we had an unlimited budget, we probably would have ordered strictly off the sashimi menu. Some of the pictures online of salmon and tuna sashimi in a no doubt delicious sauce make my mouth water. No hesitation regarding freshness at Yokozuna.

The muy chignon roll with seaweed salad, roe and salmon along with a side of sashimi, to bring out the fresh flavor of the fish.

After we got situated, we divvied up the bounty. The popper came with half a jalapeño, medium size, stuffed with minced spicy tuna and cream cheese, battered in tempura and fried. In all reality, who doesn’t love warm cream cheese? This option, when it meets the basic standards, is a perfect amuse bouche. I probably could have eaten a few more and been just that much happier. The jalapeño did not sting my tongue, at least. The fresh sashimi cocktail included ahi tuna, yellowtail and salmon. Each slice a sufficient bite, no sign of fishiness.

For our main course, the muy chignon roll, we had salmon, seaweed salad on cucumber, avocado, asparagus with yellowtail, plus a healthy sprinkling of orange roe. With the rubbery texture of the seaweed, the burst of salt water with the roe, the crunch of the cucumber and asparagus, plus the creamy avocado and fresh fish, it was a roll worth ordering again — maybe a double order next time. Given that so many rolls start to look and sound the same, so many restaurants opting for the same ol’, I was quite happy with this choice.

The unfortunate part of eating sea urchin is price and availability. When my companion tried it, he really enjoyed that creamy/salty combination of the little spiny creature, no qualms about appearances or flavor. It’s a little difficult to savor when it comes and goes in one bite, but we certainly wouldn’t mind a few more next time.

If there is one thing to note above all else, it is the variety of different rolls that I had not already become accustomed to. From the “hot night” roll to the KFC roll and the “I hate you” roll, there is truly something for everyone for any occasion. There are also udon or teriyaki options, to accommodate the “I don’t do raw fish” companions.  If you find yourself in Santa Paula looking for something off the beaten road, literally, check out Yokozuna.