PICTURED: Spicy Yellowtail Roll. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

by Kimberly Rivers

Seaward Sushi
34 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura

As Midtown Ventura’s Seaward Sushi starts its 41st year, new owners are again at the helm. The spot has a storied past, told through the winding path of lines on the gowns of beautiful Japanese geishas that flow over the walls of this neighborhood treasure. 

We can’t talk about the food without relating a bit of the backstory. Seaward Sushi has been a popular sushi spot since 1979 and touts itself as the oldest source for sushi in Ventura County. The community recently rallied behind the previous owner, Rachel Woodward — who oversaw a major overhaul of the site and revamping of the interior — to help the restaurant overcome permitting delays with the city of Ventura. 

Today, Seaward Sushi is owned by the brothers Barrios, Gabriel and Oscar — two sushi chefs with decades of experience at spots across Ventura County and the region. 

My son and I stepped into Seaward Sushi on a Friday evening a bit before the dinner rush, and decided to sit at the sushi bar. The alluring mural on the windows outside beckons you in, promising an aura of authenticity that I for one crave when visiting any sushi restaurant. We were enveloped by the warm red hues throughout the interior, with wall paintings depicting scenes of Japanese landscapes and people, representing past owners and their family members. 

The interior has been lovingly designed, and the parasols dangling overhead add whimsy and interest as well as bring some intimacy to the space by lowering the feeling of the high ceiling. 

We were welcomed in and were served delicious miso soup promptly. The menu (as of press time the website from the previous owner has not been updated with the full current menu) offers all the usual suspects: sashimi, boats, salads, udon and more. We stuck to rolls this time. 

My son chose the Baked Salmon Roll ($14), and I ordered the Washington ($12). We shared the Spicy Yellowtail roll ($9). I ordered hot tea, which came quickly and was properly steeped and not too hot to drink, something I run into at many sushi bars. 

The Baked Salmon Roll came topped with jalapeño slices, adding a unique and welcome taste to this roll. The fish was fresh and the sushi rice was good. My son always orders a side of rice, one of his favorites, and he’s become a bit of an aficionado when it comes to sushi rice. 

My Washington roll, with crab meat and fresh cucumber, was topped with two savory sauces. Flavorful and packing the usual sushi punch. 

But as is typical for me, I prefer the simpler rolls. The spicy yellowtail roll was perfect, with crispy fresh sprouted greens, a nice amount of bite and lovely fish. 

I was glad to see a few troupes of people venture in as the evening turned to true dinner time: a family choosing a spot in front of the aquarium, and a trio of men taking a spot next to us at the bar, enjoying cold sake and Japanese beer to kick off the weekend. 

We also ordered two rolls for take-out, and everything was timed well. It seemed the new crew is still working out all the kinks of service in terms of picking up menus, used plates and such, but nothing detracted from the experience and the brothers behind the sushi bar were attentive. 

Seaward Sushi is open every day, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.