California Rollin' actually has two locations in the Greater Rochester area: the original location is in Village Gate, on North Goodman St. in Rochester, while the other location (known as California Rollin' 2) is in the old Ferry Terminal in Charlotte. California Rollin' serves up fresh, hand-rolled sushi, in both traditional and more unique, innovative forms. They further add to their menu with creative spins on other traditional Japanese recipes, and offer daily specials as well. This review is from a meal Morgan and I had at the original location, which has a distinct flair and atmosphere that is artsy, yet laid back.
On this particular outing, I started off with an appetizer of miso soup; for those unfamiliar with this traditional Japanese dish, it is fish broth with shiitake mushrooms (I ordered mine without these), scallions, chunks of tofu, miso paste (a soy-based paste), and wakame (a type of edible seaweed).
I didn't take a picture of my own miso soup, so I found a picture on the internet. Hope you don't mind!
For my main course, I went the unorthodox route by ordering two California Rollin' originals: the Katana Roll and the BBT Roll. The Katana Roll is a cooked maki roll (rolled sushi), featuring crab stick (imitation crab meat), seaweed salad, Japanese mayo, and "onion crunchies" (basically French fried onions). The BBT Roll is a tempura roll (deep-fried rolled sushi), made from pan-seared tuna, smothered in Dinosaur BBQ sauce.
BBT Rolls on the left and right. Katana Roll in the middle.
While miso soup might not sound appealing to many who read a description of its ingredients (and I've definitely had my fair share of crappy miso soup), I assure you that if you're a curious first-timer, California Rollin's recipe is the one to try. The soup's broth was not overpowering in fish or soy taste, and both the tofu and seaweed leaves absorbed the flavors of the broth and the scallions perfectly. I highly recommend this particular miso soup.
As for my sushi, I still can't decide whether I like the Katana Roll or the BBT Roll more. The BBT Roll may sound simple, but it has a great flavor: the seared tuna is a wonderfully light and familiar fish base, while the BBQ sauce adds some great bold and spicy flavor; the fact that this roll is tempura-fried adds some real crunch to the entire thing, providing some awesome texture.
The Katana Roll is an incredible whirlwind of flavors: the imitation crab meat is light and sweet, while the seaweed salad and "onion crunchies" combine into a great mixture of flavors and harder textures; the juxtaposition of the creamy Japanese mayo and the crunchier layers is damn near perfect.
All in all, California Rollin' is one of my favorite places to eat something a little different. While it runs a little expensive (at least for my wallet), I still think everyone in the area should give this place a try. Sushi is a unique enough dish as it is in Rochester, but California Rollin' manages to innovate beyond the realm of the ordinary. If you're a sushi beginner, I highly recommend trying the BBT Roll; for those with a craving for something with a plethora of interesting flavors, try the Katana Roll. Regardless of what you choose, California Rollin' is sure to not disappoint.
Score (out of 10): 9
Location: 274 North Goodman St., Rochester, NY 14607
Phone Number: (585) 271-8990