The quality of sushi, an exotic blend of rice, seafood, vegetables and sauces, relies heavily on the fusion of its taste and texture. Because nearly every sushi dish consists of the ingredients wrapped in a bundle and served as is, the freshness of the ingredients and the chef’s ability to combine them is extremely important. It is easy to imagine the numerous possibilities of nauseating dishes due to aged ingredients and poor combinations. Fortunately, Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi possesses the components of what makes a wonderful sushi restaurant: fresh ingredients, quality rice and a unique, delectable flavor.
Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi is a hidden gem; it is located in a side alley off of California Avenue and blends in with trees and the backs of buildings. The restaurant is easily overlooked and relatively difficult to find unless one is carefully searching for it. Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi offers a small table with a patio umbrella for outdoor seating and about five tables for indoor seating. The tiny interior of the restaurant is cramped and could probably hold up to 20 people. The restaurant’s dijon mustard tiled flooring sharply clashes with bland white walls void of any decor except for a clock and a black and white landscape photo. The tables and cushioned chairs are arranged uniformly before the chef, allowing warm exchanges between the chef and regular patrons.
To a stranger, Homma’s may exude a drab and largely unappealing atmosphere. However, the sushi makes up for the unimpressive environment.
Homma’s flavorful sushi, which is only offered in brown rice, compensates for the drab decor. Homma, the sushi chef, creates a fascinating combination by complementing fresh fish with moist brown rice. A variety of hosomaki (sushi with seaweed on the outside), nigiri (raw fish placed on bite-sized servings of rice), uramaki (sushi with rice on the outside) and yasaimaki (vegetarian rolls) are offered on the menu, as well as soups and salads.
All dishes, except for combination meals, amount to less than five dollars, making it one of the least expensive sushi restaurants in Palo Alto. The uramaki, hosomaki and yasaimaki rolls consist of six pieces, while the nigiri consists of two pieces. The portion sizes are on the smaller end (a perfect bite-sized piece, which means no clumsy gnawing through seaweed), so two rolls at least are recommended per person.
Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi is a two-man show, with Homma as the sushi chef and a relative taking orders and working as the cashier. One important note about this restaurant is that it only accepts cash. Due to the small staff, it takes on average about 20 minutes to be served, especially if the restaurant is backed up, so many seasoned patrons order ahead or opt for take-out.
A popular roll at Homma’s is their Una-Avo Roll ($4.20). This six piece uramaki sushi roll with barbeque eel and avocado wrapped inside is lightly drizzled with sauce and packed with savory flavor. No soy sauce is needed to dip in because of the roll’s appetizing taste. Although eel is usually coarse, Homma manages to use the combination of eel, avocado and brown rice combination to create a delightful texture.
Another popular dish is the Tekka-Avo Roll ($4.00), which is raw tuna and avocado in a brown rice uramaki sushi style. Compared to the Una-Avo Roll, the Tekka-Avo Roll’s taste is a little duller. However, even after a bite, Homma’s love for fresh ingredients unveils itself through the tuna’s taste and texture.
The Spicy California Roll ($4.90), also an uramaki roll, consists of crab and avocado on the inside with tobiko (tiny orange fish eggs) on the outside of the rice. Although this roll is great for those who love tobiko and its texture, it could be an unpleasant experience for those who dislike the taste and juicy texture of tobiko.
For those who have not tried inari, which is rice enveloped inside of a thin layer of bean curd (tofu skin), and are looking for an unexpected flavor, the inari is a must. Homma’s inari comes with three pieces and houses the traditional inari flavor, making the dish satisfactory, but nothing too special.
Homma’s restaurant utilizes the delicate flavors of fresh ingredients to create excellent and healthy rolls. The mouth-watering sushi certainly makes up for the restaurant’s aesthetically-displeasing decor and inefficient service. If the thought of brown rice in sushi is off-putting, push that thought away. If you have not tried Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi yet, you are missing out!