28892 Marguerite Pkwy.
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
So Katie comes home on a Friday night and tells me that she wants sushi for dinner. Not that I do not like sushi, but I was really in the mood for a big meal. Something with a lot of substance behind it. That is when inspiration struck, and I looked up all you can eat sushi places around us. One that sounded promising was this place, Zenko Sushi.
We live in Mission Viejo, but this is a part of MV that we rarely go, just because it is out of the way, and because we really have had no reason to come down this far on Marguerite Parkway, until now. This sushi restaurant looks like it has been around for a long time. It is really off of the beaten track, sitting below Capistrano Valley High School, and alongside the rushing traffic, depending on the time of day, of the northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway.
A lot of people must know about this secluded spot, because there are lots of people here at six on a Friday night. We easily get a table, but by the time we leave at 7:30, there is definitely a long wait. The restaurant is not big by any means. They have about fifteen to twenty tables, with a sushi bar that accommodates about eight customers. Tables are placed together snugly, but we did not feel too cramped. After being seated we are presented with a menu and a pencil, and you mark what you would like. Appetizers, Sushi and Rolls are included in the All You Can Eat Option ($24.95). That of course is the option we went with, and this is how it turned out for us.
For round one we ordered three different specialty rolls. Lobster Roll, Crunch Roll, and a Mexican Roll. The lobster roll was very rich tasting. Lobster was placed on top of four California Rolls. Good, but very decadent. The crunch roll had a lot of items that I like, shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, and cucumber, but really steered me wrong. I think there was just too much going on here for me to enjoy this. The best of this bunch for me was the simply prepared Mexican Roll. This is just a California roll with maybe Siracha added. These really had a good kick to them. I could have eaten another round of these, but there was more to try. On to round two!
Round two we went with all appetizers. With this quartet I liked the Teriyaki Chicken the best. The chicken was not over done, and the teriyaki sauce had a nice sweetness to it. The Baked Green Mussels were good, but I have had better. They seemed to be missing something. The Edamame was pretty basic, and needed to be seasoned a little more than they were. The Calamari came out of the kitchen sizzling hot, but the taste was kind of boring to my taste buds. All of the appetizers we had here were good, but nothing to get all that excited about. We went back to the sushi menu for round three.
This was our big round of the night when we ordered four different rolls. They were the Jalapeno Roll, a Philly Crunch Roll, a Fire Cracker Roll, and a Spider Roll. The Jalapeno Roll was one of the hottest things I have had in a long while. They stuff a jalapeno with spicy tuna and cream cheese, then deep fry it. The jalapeno turned Katie's face bright red. We must have gotten a really spicy jalapeno. The cream cheese cut the heat a little, but this thing was scorching! I really enjoyed it though. The spider roll was a good counterpart to the heat of the jalapeno roll. The crab, avocado, and cucumber really put out the fire in our mouths. Very rich, but oh so good. I did not get a good shot of the fire cracker roll, which had spicy tuna and scallops on a California roll. This one was very fresh tasting. The last of our rolls was the Philly crunch roll, which was filled with cream cheese of course, salmon, avocado and cucumber, then deep fried. Another very rich roll. All of these basically had the same ingredients, but in different combinations. Not a bad one in the bunch.
By this time I was very full, but Katie really wanted to do one more round. So I went with something that would only get me two pieces, the Spicy Scallops. These were just okay. Not something I would get again, but they did have a nice little kick to them, but the texture of these was little off for me. Katie made the mistake of ordering a California Roll, which came with 8 pieces. By this point my stomach was nearing my full point, so I could only help her with two pieces of this. She was a trooper though, and finished the other five. I liked this very basic piece of sushi. Very light, and definitely fresh, this was a subtle end to our dining adventure at Zenko Sushi.
I must admit that I left Zenko very full, and completely satisfied. I know that a lot of people turn their noses up at all you can eat sushi places, but for me this is the way to go. I do not enjoy sushi as much as I should. I know good fresh sushi, but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. At Zenko, you get fresh sushi and large rolls with pops of flavors for one set price. I added up all of the stuff we ate on this night based on the prices on the sushi sheets, and it came to just under $40 per person, without the four appetizers we ate. That is a savings of at least $30 between the two of us. Not too bad. I got a meal that made me very full, and Katie fulfilled her sushi craving, at least for another week.
Out of five Olympians, (because the city of Mission Viejo's Nadadores swimming and diving teams have produced a large number of Olympians throughout the years), five being best to zero being worst, Zenko Sushi gets 3 Olympians.
For more information about Zenko Sushi, click here: http://www.zenkosushi.com/images/allyoucaneat.pdf