By Dr. Ink
Family members visiting from out of town tipped me off to Maki Maki Sushi (formerly Kimiya Sushi), which opened under new ownership about three months ago with some of the best happy hour steals I’ve seen in a while.
Situated next to Rubio’s in a cookie-cutter strip plaza at Rosecrans Street and Midway Drive in Loma Portal, the interior offers a touch of style with black granite tabletops, leatherette booths, an aquarium, and a modest-size sushi bar toward the back.
With a cheerful staff in place, the sushi rolls, tempura dishes and other vittles are priced at $3 in the midst of the dinner rush on weekdays.
In addition, sake starts at $4 per serving.
Visiting as a foursome, my share of the bill for a full-size spicy crab roll, a bowl of garlic edamame, and a quaint carafe of boozy, hot sake amounted to an easy ten spot. Granted, the “crab” was “krab” and it should be legally listed as such.
But the roll was fresh and moist, constructed adroitly by a shy Asian woman I was told is Maki’s sushi master.
The un-shelled edamame was hot and steamy and speckled generously with sautéed garlic.
It carried us through the first half of our stay as we noshed also on a few tempura dishes involving shrimp, mixed veggies, and avocado wedges, which become gloriously creamier when entombed in fried, light batter.
The portions of everything we ordered from the happy-hour menu, including a plate of pan-fried gyoza, exceeded our expectations for the low prices, which will remain in place beyond Maki’s ongoing grand opening, according to an employee.
A pretty pink bottle of chilled semi-sweet Ginjo Hana ($8) was the sake choice for one of our tablemates, who loosened his wallet and sprung for the King Dragon roll ($9.25) on the regular menu.
Made with smoked salmon and crowned with eel, panko flakes and green onions, it was a velvety departure from the bargain crab roll I ordered, thanks to the inclusion of cream cheese and avocado tucked inside.
A little too mushy, however, for my liking.
Happy hour also rings in discounts on “large” Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin beers, which sell for $4 each.
Indeed, whether you come for sake or suds, and pair either with food, the dent to your budget compared to other sushi joints goes practically unnoticed.
The list is short, but accommodates with four types of sake and three different Asian beers.
Imitation crab is used in many of the rolls, although all of the seafood we encountered tasted clean and fresh. And the tempura was light and non-greasy.
All of the appetizer and rolls on the happy-hour menu are $3, a near giveaway considering portion sizes are actually shareable. In addition, sake and large beers are priced graciously between $4 and $8.
Water, drinks, food and condiments were brought to our table swiftly without any lapses.
The vibe is casual and the décor and lighting are a cut above what you’ll find in most sushi restaurants hidden in strip plazas.