Friday, December 27, 2013

Mi Viche, Su Viche

Su Viche certainly doesn’t sound like the name of a sushi bar. But as you approach the large edifice located in a strip mall in Sylmar, the smaller words that read “Sushi Bar” on their signage become more visible. Then the raucous crowd inside (it may have been a Friday night, but I’ve heard this place has been jam-packed daily since its grand opening four months ago) begins to cheer while watching the large flat-screens which play football nonstop, their cacophony intermixed with the Mariachi music that issues from overhead speakers.

And then I understood: the name is a play on the words sushi and ceviche, otherwise known as the Latin American dish of raw seafood marinated in citrus juice; perhaps the first part of the restaurant’s name hints at the possessive adjective in Spanish.

Head chef Jose attests to this as he expounds the origins of the restaurant’s name, while chopping and mixing up bits of spicy octopus, which he then presses into a hand roll wrapped in crispy dark green seaweed.

I ask what his favorite item to make is and he graciously explains that it’s not about what he likes…it doesn’t matter what he likes; what matters is that the customer likes the sushi specials he whips up.

Case in point: one of my dinner comrades suggested that Jose draw upon whimsy and create something totally spontaneous. Jose rapidly threw together some random ingredients—hot shrimp tempura and cold spicy tuna laid upon a bed of avocado slices—which he then swirled into a cool wrap of cucumber (no rice in this one!) to be presented on a plate with pride. I pointed at the thing, aghast as I practically said with a whoop: “I’ve never seen a hand roll wrapped in nothing but cucumber before!”

I had seen, of course, cut rolls encased in cucumber wrap, each piece stuck with a decorative toothpick to hold the coarse covering in place; but definitely never a hand roll—and one without rice, to boot. I can never seem to contain my excitement when something new in the sushi sphere—an odd ingredient, any unusual idea—strikes my fancy, for I always think I’ve seen all there is to see….

The sauces here are often a heady effect of multiple combinations—dollops of Sriracha sauce, splashes of ponzu sauce, squirts of eel sauce, chili oil, sesame oil; a sporadic shake of the Shichimi bottle.

The Mexican Roll, for example, is a spicy doozy: it’s a hefty spicy tuna roll covered with spicy imitation crab, Sriracha, jalapenos and cilantro leaves.

Does the Spaghetti Hand Roll actually look like a hand roll filled to the brim with spaghetti? You be the judge as you gaze upon this $5.95 specialty item containing chunks of spicy salmon, strands of imitation crab, spiky cuts of cucumber and sprinkle of green onions.

If you really want to gorge yourself, there’s the All You Can Eat price of $23.99 for lunch, $26.99 for dinner. During this hour, you can order anything from clam sushi to the Spicy Tuna Volcano roll.

Su Viche Sushi Bar (now called Xevichez Sushi Bar)
14117 Hubbard Street, Sylmar

Note: Su Viche Sushi Bar has changed its name to Xevichez Sushi Bar

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