By Greg Smith
Although it’s only been open for three weeks, Izakaya Sushi Ran has already become one of Toluca Lake’s best-kept secrets, and if the positive word-of-mouth continues, expect Sushi Ran to be the choice restaurant for fine Japanese cuisine in this area.
Located unassumingly within a shopping center on Riverside, once you enter Sushi Ran it’s obvious that this will not be your typical dining experience. The chefs greet you welcomingly and the posh but comfortable atmosphere transports you to a place where everyday troubles seem to slip away.
Owner Jung Ho Heo knows a little something about the restaurant business. Toluca Lake’s just-opened Sushi Ran is actually the sister restaurant of his successful location in Korea. After 37 years of continued excellence there, Heo decided it was time to expand Stateside, and knew that there was no better place than Toluca Lake.
“When I arrived here, it seemed that everyone knew each other. I saw instantly what a tight-knit community this was, and an ideal one for starting a business,” Heo says. “Likewise, I wanted my staff to feel like family.”
Japanese cuisine has become particularly en vogue in California, and Heo understands that. He realizes that to be successful, he has to color outside the lines a bit, so employing head chef Jackie Joo — with his 20-plus years in the business and an oft-stamped passport — was a wise move.
“Everything Jackie cooks should be somewhat familiar to the sushi aficionado, but with a unique twist,” Heo says. “He finds ways to consistently surprise us, and every night there are compliments to the chef from at least one satisfied — and full — customer. The whole menu is signature Jackie, from the appetizers and salad to the sashimi and special rolls.”
Joo even incorporates Korean food into the lunch menu, including items such as spicy tofu stew and bibimbop (rice, vegetables and beef dish). The dinner menu is traditional Japanese as well as Japanese fusion dishes.
The Happy Hour Special is from 3 p.m. — 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. That means a 35 percent discount for drinks and appetizers!
With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, the seven-course omakase (meaning “It’s up to you”) meal gives couples the full treatment for a reasonable price. Each course comes out in a select specialty dish, filling one’s table with a diverse selection. This definitely isn’t your typical pre fixe meal. This special runs from Friday the 11th until Valentine’s Day.
“We want the customers to ask plenty of questions, to get exactly what they want,” Heo says. “Here at Sushi Ran, we want to become a part of the Toluca Lake family.”
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Izakaya Sushi Ran is located on 10658 Riverside Dr. They can be reached for delivery at (818) 623-0567.