Gatten Sushi, Not So Yummy

Anna Nguyen/Staff Photographer

A few years ago, the sushi scene near campus was dismal. Aomatsu across the street from campus had horrible customer service and low-quality fish. Maki Maki in the Irvine Spectrum had just closed because the owners had to flee the country due to tax evasion. Gen Sushi, while not horrible and actually open for business, was just a takeout place.

Things got better that summer, Kula Sushi opened in Diamond Jamboree the end of that summer, introducing the city to Kaisen-style revolving sushi bars. The following spring, a challenger appeared in the form of Sushilicious, located across town, taking the Kaisen idea and applying a slightly hipster varnish with pastel colors and wooden tones.

For a year and a half, these two  restaurants competed in a vacuum, Kula with sushi at a cheaper price and quick turnaround time and Sushilicious with the hipper atmosphere and menu.

This summer however, a third restaurant opened, resting upon the ashes of Aomatsu, which had ultimately closed down. Taking ideas from the pastel walls, wooden accents and fun customer service of Sushilicious and the size and speed of Kula, Gatten Sushi walks the middle ground, hoping to provide an alternative to both.

The exterior of the restaurant is a bit muted and hidden, nestled to the left of Albertsons in the corner of the plaza. The small doorway opens into a fairly large space, easily larger than Sushilicious and slightly larger than Kula. The conveyor belt winds around the room chaotically, maximizing seating space and providing two areas where chefs take orders and assemble rolls. The wait for seating rarely breaks 20 minutes, even during peak hours.

Gatten Sushi’s decor borrows heavily from that of Sushilicious. The walls are painted the color of Sencha green tea and match the seating. The stainless steel conveyor belt contrasts with the deep red of the marble counters and the bamboo-colored wooden tables. The walls are decorated with pictures and informational snippets regarding different kinds of fish.

Though the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, the food itself is lackluster in comparison. Though the conveyor belt is always full of fish, often a problem at Sushilicious, there seems to be very little quality control. The tempura rolls, for example, are soggy and unsatisfying when taken off the belt.

The slices of fish on the nigiri sushi are noticeably smaller than that of the other two restaurants. The sushi rice is inconsistent as well, not always having the proper sticky consistency.

The appetizers leave much to be desired. The batter-to-octopus ratio in the takoyaki is skewed considerably towards the former. The calamari disappointingly opts for a bready tempura as opposed to the traditional crisp and light batter.

Finally, though the staff tries really hard to be welcoming, greeting each customer as they enter and leave and announcing when new dishes are placed on the belt with a hearty “Yummy!”, their excitement can be obtrusive. My dinner partner and I couldn’t speak more than a few sentences without being interrupted by sudden, loud exclamations.

Try as they might to stand out from the other Kaiten places in Irvine, nothing in particular distances Gatten Sushi from its competition. With prices nearly identical to both Kula and Sushilicious, Gatten’s only advantage that caters towards UCI students is its close proximity to campus. If you ever want to be yelled at while eating average sushi less than a mile off campus, Gatten Sushi is the perfect restaurant for you.