1937 west malvern ave
fullerton, ca 92833
Dining in japanese restaurants has all kinds of associated traditions: removing shoes before eating, sitting on the floor, wiping hands with a hot towel at the sushi bar. i don’t know when and how it happened, but i have my own personal ritual before i eat japanese food (or any food that i eat with chopsticks): origami.
alright, so it’s not origami in the technical sense of making pteradactyls out of pizza boxes, but what i always have to do is fold the paper chopsticks wrapper into a little perch. i’m not even sure what its technical name is. fancier schmancier japanese restaurants have ceramic or wooden perches shaped like leaves or animals as part of the place setting. but these are restaurants that have real chopsticks. like silverware. like the kind you have to wash. the restaurants i usually go to, though, wouldn’t waste that expense for resting cheap disposable chopsticks. nonetheless, i like a place to hold the tips of my five cent chopsticks so i don’t make a complete mess on the table, even though somehow soy sauce drip stains and grease spot colonies have erupted all over my paper placemat by dinner’s end.
At sato sushi in fullerton, i made my usual beautiful perch before our family’s dinner. i’ll admit, i have a strange sense of artistic pride when it comes to my perches. folding the paper into a simple tent is so, novice. see, i have skills; i have chopstick perch building talent. i have graduated into what i believe is an original - i call it the double fishtail. sometimes, i get crazy and will do the matrix twist, but only on very special occasions. like on a date.
now about sato sushi and the food. the restaurant is in in a fullerton mega plaza that is properly outfitted with a target, barnes and noble, and albertson’s. there’s even an albertson’s gas station – which makes me wonder; wonder about what, i am not sure, but it just makes me wonder. one whole section of the plaza is dedicated to food, and sato sushi is located here, between wahoo’s fish tacos and a very strangely paired togo’s/baskin robbins. there’s a red neon “open” sign in the window, and the inside is lit with fluorescent lights. there is an attempt at “decor” with a little plastic window the floor that shows what looks like a fish pond underneath the floor, though i didn’t see any fish. it’s like the see-through walkway at crustacean in beverly hills, but looks much less sturdy, so i stepped around it.
the menu is standard: tempura, teriyaki, and noodles. the sushi bar serves all the regular nigiri and maki, and has their own special rolls, though most of them are simply adaptations of the california roll. the server brought us a little oshinko appetizer of seaweed, cucumber and crab (imitation) in a sweetened vinegar. everyone is first served a small bowl of the restaurant’s udon broth, which is salty and refreshing and a nice gesture on their part. the udon, with tempura on the side so it doesn’t get soggy, must have been good because it is very rare that dad doesn’t make a negative comment about his food. the steak and salmon teriyaki was sweet as it should be, and the tempura was crisp, though a little heavy on the batter. one thing that stood out to me was the spicy tuna roll. made with chili oil, it is hotter than most, and without mayonnaise, it didn’t gross me out. i was, however, grossed out by looking the uni, which i still have to get used to.
so that’s the kind of place sato is – nothing fancy, nothing i’d travel for, but it’s a good place to go when i’m already in orange county with my family, and don’t want to eat at islands.