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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kokoro Sushi: Will it survive? Maybe!

Lunch date #33: February 22, 2013

Where to go when in a hurry to grab lunch about 30 minutes before your hair appointment at Cutt Co? Kokoro Sushi (3550 Bernal Ave, Ste 150) at the Vintage Hills Shopping Center corner of Bernal and Tawny. This is the old shopping center that has been mostly vacant for years. The businesses are starting to fill: the Cutt Co has been ongoing for years, as has the dry cleaner, but now there is a Yogurt shop (Yogoholic), a coffee shop and this Sushi place. The grocery store site is currently under renovation and will open a New Leaf Community Market. This location is like an old ghost town—maybe starting to come back to life.

Location 2.5 points: "For me it's good!" says Mom laughing since she lives in the general area. The mall is still mostly vacant and seems too quiet/boring/dead with an overwhelmingly empty parking lot. Until business picks up at this location, it will not have any curb appeal.

Ambiance 2.5 points: Typical Japanese style décor: simple but OK. Nothing too exciting. One step up from the basic formica table tops as the tables at Kokoro where glass covered. Definitely not going to this restaurant for the ambiance in general. Since only one other patron that day, the place was overly quiet and we wondered how they stay in business. 

Menu selection 4 points: Since Mom and I know very little about sushi, and after trying it once Mom has decided one-and-done is enough for her, we can't critique the menu choices very well. Seems like lots of things to choose. Some good choices for the bento boxes-Mom's favorite thing to order in Japanese restaurants these days.

Service 3.5 points: One host/server/sushi chef only. Since not much business, this was not an issue for us. He was pleasant and made our dishes very quickly. He brought out tea right away and seemed attentive enough.

Food 3.5 points: Mom liked the choices for her bento box: beef teriyaki, rice, edamame, tempura, goyza and miso soup on the side. Biggest issue: the beef was tough and very chewy. I went with a tempura dish which was served with rice, miso and edamame as a lunch special. We both liked the tempura-which included the usual combination of vegetables and one skewer of shrimp…but it was light and tasty. The miso soup was good and flavorful.
Mom with her bento box and chop-stick cheaters

Value 3 points: Mom's bento box was $8.95, about in the range of Tomo Sushi, had far more food than she could eat—and yes, she did take the rest home! My shrimp/veggie tempura at $9.25 was an average price. Since the tea is included in the price, the overall meal charge is a reasonable price for lunch. Food was fair, but not excellent, hence the medium range for the score. We didn't feel that it was as good as Tomo and definitely nowhere near as good as Sushi Main.

Overall score for Kokoro Sushi: 3.2 points. Kokoro means heart and soul in Japanese…perhaps once this shopping center is back up and running and some patrons are attracted, this little Japanese restaurant will have a chance. Until then, hope it has enough heart and soul to stay open. 

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