I’m not going to lie – I am one of the biggest sushi fans out there. Just the mere thought of indulging myself with some eel, shrimp and spicy salmon makes the stresses of every day life vanish into thin air. So when a few friends of mine invited me to Village Gate Square near the Memorial Art Gallery, I jumped at the chance of further exploring California Rollin’.

Despite the unappealing name, California Rollin’ did develop some lucrative attention to itself. Located within the artsy and eclectic Village Gate Square, it became apparent that Sunday evening was not the best time to visit due to the wait; however, 30 minutes later, we sat.

Perhaps the most enticing aspect of going to California Rollin’ is their specials. On Sunday afternoons, they offer any three rolls for $12. Other nights they offer All You Can Eat and even Sexy Sushi Chefs Night. Taking advantage of the three for $12, I boldly ordered the spicy shrimp, the rainbow roll – salmon, tuna and swordfish – and your generic California roll covered with Tobiko fish eggs, thus making it a deluxe California roll.

As an appetizer I ordered their full and aromatic miso soup. Even though I received the hearty soup within minutes, it took another 30 minutes for the sushi rolls to arrive.

Make no mistake, during this interim time, I had the opportunity to critique the venue itself. Quite frankly, it felt as though I was in a poorly funded aquarium. Whales painted on the wall, a sense of dining at the pier and a dirty fish tank bisecting the center of the room, I began feeling tacky as the minutes slowly passed by.

I knew that the only redeemable moment California Rollin’ was going to have, if any, was in its food. And sadly, that was not even close to enough. I’m not sure if it was the obnoxiously loud “chefs” or the scantly clad waitresses, but nothing about California Rollin’ seemed authentic. It is the type of restaurant where you would never find a Japanese man or woman dining.

When the sushi rolls finally came to my table, they were cut in disproportioned segments, and if you took a close look at the innards of the sushi, it was hard to distinguish the ingredients. Needless to say, after years of thoroughly enjoying sushi, I found the one place that failed to satisfy me. If you’re in the mood for some mediocre sushi, chances are you’ll encounter it at California Rollin’.

Nevertheless, my peers have since informed me not to lose faith in sushi from Rochester. They promised to take me somewhere more worthwhile and with more bang for my buck. Therefore, perhaps next time, I can fully enjoy myself.

Buitrago is a member of the class of 2007.

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