After three years of sitting empty, one of the best restaurant locations in Silver Lake is welcoming customers again. The building on Silver Lake Boulevard hasn't been in use since Reservoir closed its doors back in 2012, but as of this past weekend Yakuza Sushi is open for business.
Yakuza itself has been in the works for about a year, and is currently in its soft opening stages. Eater reports that as recently as last week the restaurant was advertising a head chef position on Craigslist.
On their third night of service, the small dining room was packed. Next door, the sidewalk was jammed with people hoping to get into Alimento, and it seems some folks had wandered into Yakuza rather than withstand that wait. The staff seemed appropriately harried for a brand new restaurant, but the two men behind the sushi bar were calm and focused.
The menu is probably just what the neighborhood needs: standard middle-range sushi with a selection of fusion-y "sashimi creations" such as seared king scallop with kiwi fruit and Hawaiian charcoal sea salt.
The quality of the sushi and sashimi was better than most of the nearby sushi options, with a few standout bites. A fatty yellowtail nigiri was slick and supple, and the mackerel bracingly fresh. There was nothing special about the uni or salmon, and we steered clear of the blue fin tuna being advertised as a special. The place is billing itself as an izakaya as well as sushi spot, but apart from a few fried appetizers there's not much izakaya-ish about it. There is a long list of baked and tempura rolls, one going so far as to call itself the "Yakuza sushi burrito."
The place where Yakuza is likely to kill it is its bargain lunch offerings. The restaurant offers a $20 lunch oakase that includes edamame, salad, tofu, five pieces of sushi, three pieces of sashimi and a blue crab hand roll. They also offer $13 noodle combos: you pick udon, soba or ramen, and sushi, tempura or a house sushi roll. Ramen can be had on its own for $9, and is only available at lunch.
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A small but decent sake selection is available, as well as all the expected beers.
Yakuza Sushi is open Tues.-Sun., lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m, and dinner 5-10 p.m. 1700 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 741-8282.