Make a Fish Foundation
By Joe Martone
Corona has a thing for hidden treasures of the food world. It doesn’t quite get the attention of say, Los Angeles or Pasadena but rest assured that this city has some amazing food places. Chief among them is Sushi Asahi on McKinley.
Sushi Asahi is a small little chain with locations in Moreno Valley and Riverside, but it seems the Corona locale has made quite a name for itself. I discovered this when I arrived several minutes before opening and found a line forming around the entrance. The people have spoken, and they have a thing for sushi.
From the moment the doors opened, there was no denying the place had ambiance. The restaurant filled quickly with the sounds of happy customers and friendly conversations. The décor is standard Japanese with some traditional artwork, a sushi bar, a wide screen TV playing baseball in background and music playing the best of the ’90s.
Like most sushi places, this is designed with the all-you-can-eat crowd in mind. Never indulged before? No problem, the helpful and attentive staff is prepared to show you how everything works. They’ll even get everything straight if you think you’re a pro and screw up the order (guilty as charged).
I browsed the Yelp page before coming here and decided to start on the restaurant’s strongest foot. The first round kicked off with a Quail Egg Shooter. I didn’t quite know what to expect–– it’s literally a quail egg floating in a shot glass. In retrospect, I probably should have sipped but I was feeling bold and adventurous. I downed the whole thing in one gulp.
This was unlike anything I had ever tasted. The egg went down smoothly as I was inundated with a miasma of flavors. The beer, the soy sauce and the jalapeños burst in my mouth as I was overwhelmed with the spicy, salty and refreshing one-two sensation that made my eyes water.
Lunch began with the cliché California Roll, but clearly clichés exist for a reason. It was cohesive, tasty and not filling in the slightest–– the perfect primer. Next was the Shrimp Tempura Roll, which didn’t fare as well. It was too dry and heavy for my taste—better for those seeking a guilty pleasure than a meal.
Round two was the Unagi and a Spicy Tuna Roll. The unagi (eel, for the curious) was mixed. It tasted like chicken but was too gritty and slimy for my taste. The tuna roll, on the other hand, was a nice experience—pleasantly tangy and it got better with every bite. Filling and quite satisfying, it was a good end to the meal.
Sushi Asahi is a place that I would thoroughly like to experience again if just for the adventure my taste buds went on. There’s more to the menu I wish I could experience, such as the popular Spider Roll or the Green Tea Ice Cream. Why didn’t I try them? Like many sushi restaurants, it came down to pricing. For what I ordered, I got a great deal with the whole meal totaling just under $20. Special orders (such as the above) alone can often be $15 or more, which didn’t seem worth it.
Asahi is a great place if you’ve got a large group, time to kill and money to spend. It’s nothing I would go out of my way for, but a fine choice if you happen to be in town.
Sushi Asahi, 420 N. McKinley St., Corona, (951) 738-3000. Tue-Sun 11:30am-10pm. AE, D, MC, V.