When it comes to cravings, it sucks how that nagging feeling can consume a person until that sense of emptiness has been filled. Whether you’re craving chocolate or pickles, that urge can become quite the deciding force when it comes to making choices on where to go for dinner.
My beau and I were taken to California Roll some odd weeks ago by a friend of ours who had been craving sushi like mad. While I’m usually a little picky when it comes to sushi, I recall being too hungry to care at that moment. We all went to the location in downtown (I believe there’s at least one more location in Gwangju).
As we entered the restaurant, it was nice to see what the place had to offer, as well as the price ranges for everything. Once we were inside, I was surprised to see just how classy the place looked. The clean and stylish decor made me feel like I had just entered a restaurant that was too rich for my tastes, despite having just seen the fair prices that were listed at the door.
Once we took our seats, we looked through the large menu, hunting for something good. Now when it comes to sushi rolls, I’m a fan of tuna and avocado, both of which have been difficult to find in South Korea. The first time I went to a California Roll, I was excited to see that the menu did have rolls that contained both, only to find out that the tuna was canned and the avocado was hardly there. As a result, I’ve completely written off tuna rolls and have learned to keep my expectations low when promised avocado. That being said, we all ended up ordering a California Roll (crab, fish eggs, avocado, veggies), a Crispy Roll (sesame seeds, fried shrimp, veggies), a Hawaiian Barbecue Roll (sesame seeds, tenkasu (crunchy tempura bits), veggies, bulgogi, BBQ sauce), and a Rock N Roll (grilled eel, fried shrimp, avocado, katsuobushi flakes). We also got an order of shrimp sushi pieces, just because.
After we placed our orders, we were told that we had full access to the small salad bar, as well as the soup bar. The salad bar offered limited options like kimchi, pickles, yogurt salad, and a macaroni salad that I ate way too much of. The soup bar contained a simple broth that we could add things like tenkasu and other seasonings to. While these offerings weren’t anything special, they were definitely enough to keep us distracted from hunger until our food arrived.
When we first received our rolls, I admit that I was slightly put off by the amount of sauce that had been slathered on each plate. If you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, you have been warned. Lucky for me, I got over it pretty quick, and grew to appreciate the fact that the sauces weren’t terribly overwhelming with flavor. The California Roll was fairly standard and light, though it seriously lacked in avocado (as expected). The Crispy Roll was surprisingly simple for such a decorated looking dish, though I could have done with less of the red sauce it came with. The Hawaiian Barbecue Roll, which I fully expected to be overdone with sauces and conflicting flavors, turned out to be better than I had originally anticipated. The taste of bulgogi did mask some of the more subtle flavors of the roll, but the experience of a meaty, heavier roll was rather interesting. I had trouble with the Rock N Roll, as I am not a fan of the fishy and flakey katsuobushi.
Overall, the food was pretty decent. Though I don’t see myself going back too often by choice, the endless number of choices and fair prices make California Roll one of the better options for those with seafood cravings that don’t want to break the bank. You can also get free ice cream at the end of your meal!
Address: 광주 동구 황금동 68-2 (down the road from Speakeasy)
Average Price Range: 6,000-9,500 per roll