There’s another new sushi restaurant in town — Cho Cho San, which replaced Chili My Soul, in the newly remodeled Encino strip mall that houses the U.S. Post Office, Smart and Final, and Salads Galore. Cho Cho San comes with roots. It’s part of a family of five Japanese restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks and Valencia. The original Cho Cho San is a a 36 seat revolving sushi restaurant in Tarzana and one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in the 818.
The newly opened Cho Cho San is far different. There’s a 24 seat sushi bar and a 50 seat restaurant. It is simply decorated, but at same time elegant with chandeliers used as the lighting (an interesting choice for sushi decor). Glass windows allow for sunshine during the day.
What sets this restaurant apart is the menu and the number of choices. At 14 pages with full color photos, the menu is almost like a coffee table book. I would be one to steer clear of this kind of menu, but I take exception in this case. There’s approximately 70 rolls listed on the menu and another 20 or so off the menu that regulars in-the-know ordered at the revolving location. In addition, there are lunch specials, dinner specials, appetizers, salads,tempura, rice bowls, udon noodles, chicken and beef teriyaki, plus a children’s menu.
On my first venture, I concentrated on rolls. The fish is very fresh. Cho Cho San clearly has quite the reputation since it was rather crowded after being open just a week.
The menu is broken up into sections with various headings — traditional rolls, vegetable rolls, low carb rolls, fully-cooked, soft-shell crab, most popular rolls, all about albacore, salmon, yellowtail, tuna and assorted fish.
Specialty rolls include the Yotsu roll ($9) made with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore and avocado wrapped in cucumber without rice with a choice of cream sesame sauce and a spicy sauce. The Baked Crab Roll with soy paper ($7.95), which was made popular by Katsu-ya, is comparable in taste, but with double the portion of crab. The Rock n Roll ($5.25) is a cut roll with soy paper filled with baked scallop, avocado and special mayo; the 999 roll consists of crab, shrimp tempura and is wrapped on the outside with cajun tuna mixed with spicy mayo and a sesame spicy sauce topped with jalpenos. The Love Roll ($8.95) is shaped in a heart with tuna, salmon, shrimp and avocado; Spicy Girl is a mix of shrimp tempura, crab and avocado with a masago spicy and creamy sesame sauce.
Portions are generous and sushi prices are vary reasonable. For two pieces of freshwater eel is $3.95 , salmon, $3.65, Spanish mackerel $5.50 and yellowtail $3.95 and basic rolls range from $3.65-$4.25.
Just when you thought the 818 didn’t need another Japanese restaurant, this version of Cho Cho San is a welcome addition to the scene and truly offers something that appeals to every palate.
Cho Cho San 4928 Balboa Blvd Encino (Ventura and Balboa), 818-981-9029
Jocelyn Freid is a television creative executive who served as co-executive producer of the Lifetime’s Maneater mini-series. She previously worked as VP of Current Programming and Development at studios and networks in Los Angeles.