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Dining Out:

So good they named it twice

March 13, 2010|By Phillip Hain

Niko Niko Sushi in Burbank is another one of the small gems that you’d have trouble noticing if you were not looking for it. It’s in a standard strip mall tucked between other restaurants and retail businesses.

Plain from the outside and basic inside, you’ll be going here for the excellent food and not the ambience. And that’s perfectly fine.

I could tell this place has its devotees because we went on a weeknight and had to wait for a table.


The crowd gradually dissipated while we dined, and after finishing we sat and talked and I noticed we were the only people remaining.

But then a strange thing happened — after about a 15-minute lull, people came in and a whole new crop of diners occupied every table.

After placing our order and waiting for the first dish to arrive, the waitress brought us a salad that we didn’t ask for.

What we thought was a mistake turned out to be a complimentary dish called Poki Salad ($10.99), which had mixed lettuce and shredded crab meat tossed in a tangy dressing and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was a fortuitous beginning to a delicious evening.

One of the nice things about sushi restaurants is that you can easily sample a wide range of dishes with different flavors.

Selecting sushi reveals very individual tastes and preferences. For this part of the meal, we had the traditional tuna ($3.99), salmon ($3.99), yellowtail ($4.99), salmon roe ($4.99) and scallop ($4.99).

All of the fish was fresh, and they artfully decorate each piece by draping an extra slice of fish diagonally across the top. It’s more an issue of flair, but still adds to the presentation.

The most exotic part of the meal was with the rolls we tried. They list 64 options, so it can be a tough decision to narrow down.

Eating sushi does not require any particular order, so it’s more an issue of randomness in the manner one proceeds.

On the sweet and crunchy side was the hungry roll ($11.99) with eel, crab meat, avocado, cucumber and salmon tempura.

Its sweetness came from the dark sauce drizzled on top, and the cool green vegetables provided a soothing start.

Next was the garlic albacore roll ($9.99), a simple mixture of albacore and fried garlic on a California roll with “special” sauce.

The garlic came in the form of large chunks with a pungent taste and they mixed very nicely with the sauce. Anyone with a garlic affinity will enjoy this one.

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