I wrote about La Poubelle last time, and I thought it might be cool if we meandered west through Franklin Village and eventually crescendoed at the Bourgeois Pig de résistance — my high school haunt!
Dogs are pretty much welcome at any establishment along this part of Franklin, so we will just have to visit them all, one by one.
Is that cheating?
Mike said, “It’s your battlefield; you define cheating.”
I like that.
So we will mosey on down the block and hit all of them up — most likely during happy hour, because that’s how we roll.
The one-drink rule
I’ve decided to change my don’t-drink-and-blog rule to a one-drink rule, because going to happy hour and not drinking is like going to a pool and not swimming.
So we’ve decided to visit Sushi Stop, which is the next restaurant down from La Poubelle.
I have an oft-repeated sentiment: I really like walking here with the fam. It takes less than 5 minutes, and we get to work up an appetite. If you’re of the pollutionary persuasion, you can always drive here and ask Squat to procure you a spot. Tell her I sent you, and don’t forget your limerick.
By now, Azzy has a pretty good sense that going down this road means we’re going to end up somewhere good, so he happily walked in front of us with a spring in his step.
I’m a sucker for rows and rows of outdoor tables in front of different restaurants. Well, technically, there’s only one row (and lots of columns?). Let’s just say there are several tables fronting each restaurant.
Sushi Stop definitely isn’t unique to Franklin Village. Their website says they have six locations “all over Los Angeles.” This one just happens to be in our neighborhood.
Skip the lunch rush
We showed up around 4pm. Their outdoor seating is limited to four tables, so it’s best to come during off-hours if you can. We have come here a couple of times during normally accepted lunch hours and ended up going elsewhere because we were unable to get an outdoor table. Don’t make that mistake if your patronage comes with leashes attached like ours does.
So — yay! — we got an outdoor table. An extra bonus is that they have awnings over their tables now, providing much-needed shade. When we first started coming here about a year ago, Mike and I had to figure out who got to squint in the sun by way of rock-paper-scissors, and I always had to eat quickly to make sure my sushi actually stayed raw!
But today was a new day, and I was looking forward to a leisurely time with my nigiri.
No need for happy hour
Sushi Stop’s prices are very reasonable, and everything always tastes fresh to me.
I ordered some salmon, mackerel, yellowtail and scallop nigiri, plus a spicy scallop roll. People think it’s kind of weird that I like mackerel, but it’s a staple in my culture. It has a distinct, pungent flavor, and it complements plain white sushi rice like nothing else does. Add the sweet, slightly spicy flavor of pickled ginger and a bit of soy sauce, and it’s just the perfect combo to me. So mackerel is always on my little ordering sheet.
Then I saw something called a sashimi ceviche roll, which is wrapped in soy paper instead of seaweed. I love sushi and ceviche in equal parts so I ordered one of those, too.
Unagi: The gateway sushi
Mike got an eel avocado roll and the Philly salmon roll. They top their Philly with sliced white onions and capers, which is a nice spin on the tired salmon-and-cream-cheese combo. And Mike swears he gets more salmon with the way they do it, because they drape the salmon over the top instead of inserting a sliver inside the roll like most places do.
Funny thing about people and eel (unagi). I have known many people who avoid sushi because they say they don’t like raw fish, but I can usually get them to try some unagi because, a) it’s cooked, and b) it’s TASTY, and that’s a fact.
So they’ll try some unagi, they usually love it, and, at that point, something in their psyche shifts, and they are totally OK with ordering raw sushi. They are fully aware that now they are eating uncooked fish, but somehow the unagi softened the blow. It’s like they’ve crossed some sort of invisible line. I can’t wrap my head around this phenomenon, but it works every time. But they have to be willing to try unagi. If they aren’t willing to try it, then it’s time to give up and just leave them to their own devices. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you have to let people just do their own thing. I never have to do that with Azzy, though. He will annihilate any kind of food that falls to the ground.
Sasha always gets the teriyaki chicken bowl and a Sprite. The bowls are on the smaller side, which is perfect for someone Sasha’s size. They also have noodles, seaweed salad, edamame, tempura, miso soup and the basic fare that most Japanese restaurants offer.
I don’t know how they keep their prices so low, but if something bad ever happened, we’d hear about it, right? And they are always busy inside, so that definitely puts me at ease. Besides, I’m the only one of us who actually gets anything raw (Mike will only try a few bites here and there), and I have a stomach like a goat, so I know I will live another day … .
Speaking of how busy they are inside, here’s a word to the wise: I’ve never had them answer the phone no matter how many times I’ve called. It doesn’t matter what day it is, either. Honestly, your best bet is just showing up and asking questions when you’re already here.
Our food started coming out fairly quickly, and Azzy intermittently kept popping his head up like a Whack-a-Mole every time they brought food out. He wanted to make sure we knew he was there in case anybody had some food they wanted to part with. He’s really considerate like that.
As for my one-drink/happy hour rule, it’s really unnecessary to plan for happy hour here, because Sushi Stop is so reasonably priced at any hour.
I’ll sometimes have hot sake with my sushi, but sometimes I just want room-temp water — today was one of those days. Mike didn’t have anything to drink besides water, either, because today was all about good, clean, family fun.
Our server brought out a bowl for Azzy and filled it with water. I love when they do that. It’s a small gesture, but I always appreciate when restaurants take the time to tend to the animals.
At around 4:30, there was a gaggle of people wearing funky hats making their way to the theater next door, and I heard a bunch of chanting as they were walking in.
A few minutes later, they filed out and merrily headed east on Franklin with a guide leading the way. At first I thought it was some rowdy comedy troupe making a pilgrimage to their Mecca, but it was clearly a tour. How cool of them to stop and peek into the UCBT.
Then there was the guy walking by and playing “Soul Man” on a rickety little boom box, which totally reminded me of my erstwhile beach-town abode. They have a couple of guys like that in downtown Santa Cruz playing their rickety boomboxes.
My nigiri was delicious as always, and, once again, I ordered too much food and took half of it home in a box. I tend to eat most of my food out of a to-go box, so I was looking forward to the late-night feast.
(I ended up eating my leftovers a few hours after we got home, and I really enjoyed the sashimi ceviche — it was everything I could have asked for, and the soy paper was a welcome complement to the fish. I will definitely order it again.)
I wish I could say more about Azzy, but we didn’t see too much of him, or any other dogs, on this particular venture. He has a really thick coat, which means he mostly lies low in warm weather. He did receive the requisite pets from the people sitting next to us, though, who commented on his cool-looking eyes.
Post-sushi ice cream
After we paid and were getting ready to leave, Sasha gave me a knowing glance, and so we made our usual trek to the ice cream shop next door.
Somehow, on the way, Sasha tripped and fell. He got a little emotional, and one of the employees immediately came out and asked if we needed a Band-Aid. I thought that was really sweet, but Sasha didn’t need a bandage, and I reminded him that he was in front of the perfect place to be falling down. He immediately cheered up and led the way inside.
Sasha got cookies & cream in a cup with a huge waffle cone stuck to the top of it, and I got full just from looking at it, so I didn’t get anything.
It was pretty hot outside, so my sweet husband took Azzy to get the car while I watched Sasha eat his ice cream on the bench.
A good time was had by all, and I had a ton of leftovers!
See you next week, my Franklin Village peeps.