Once again, I was back in downtown Historic Campbell, California, this time to check out an unusual sushi joint called Sushi Confidential. I should start by telling you that this is not your average sushi joint. In fact, there’s very little that’s traditional about this place at all.
The decor was very modern and trendy, dance music was constantly pumping, and on my visit, other guests were losing their shit over the San Jose Sharks hockey game being played on the TV hung over the sushi bar. That night it was basically a sports bar/night club combo that was also serving non-traditional sushi. Before this trip, I don’t think I’d ever eaten sushi while listening to jersey-wearing teenagers with neck tattoos scream “Shoot it!!!”, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Based to the restaurant’s name, Sushi Confidential. I kept wondering if there was some sort of secret being kept here, and if there was, I apologize in advance for blowing up the spot with this blog post. As it turns out, the espionage theme is just an element runs through the entire menu’s naming schema.
Nearly every item on the menu had some sort of American fusion twist. Whether the dish involved the use of non-Japanese ingredients like sweet and sour sauce, macadamia nuts, or habaneros, these were no ordinary sushi rolls. There was, however, one ingredient present in quite a large number of the menu offering that I immediately put in the off-limits category – cream cheese. I do not eat sushi with cream cheese. I’ve had Philadelphia Rolls before and they just don’t do it for me.
So I looked over the nearly overwhelming spy-themed selection for a while and made my picks while drinking a carafe of hot sake. I was on a real big sashimi kick at the time, but that didn’t seem like the right type of thing to order at a place like this. So, I followed my gut and chose three bizarro fusion rolls full of mystery and intrigue. Just one rule: no cream cheese.
The first of my rolls to arrive was the Geisha Girl. Beautifully plated, this roll was filled with spicy tuna and avocado and was topped with salmon, lemon, green onion, spicy spy sauce (spicy mayo), unagi sauce, tobiko, and macadamia nuts. Most of these ingredients sound pretty standard for Americanized sushi, except of course for the very last one, the macadamia nuts. I’ve never heard of them being used in way and was very excited to experience them like this.
At first, the roll tasted citrusy and creamy from the sliced lemon and sauces, then the fresh salmon flavor and texture showed itself, followed by the habanero heat, and finally the crunchy, nutty aftertaste of the macadamia nuts. It was quite unusual and rather complex, yet somehow worked quite well.
Next up was a roll called The Spot. This too used very high-quality fish and other ingredients such as spicy crab and avocado inside and yellowtail, shiso leaf, jalapeño, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, and habanero tobiko on top. Very simply, the jalapeño slices on top dominated the roll.
After I had eaten first three pieces as presented, I picked the remaining jalapeño slices off of the others to enjoy the rolls on their own without the jalapeño domination. This was much better. Actually, I did eat one more piece with some jalapeño laid on top, but I hand selected the thinnest sliver of jalapeño I had for one bite and found that this worked really well. I think they just need to use razor thin jalapeño slices as a topping on each piece in order to make this ingredient work here.
Last, but certainly not least, I had a roll called the Spy vs Spy. This was amazingly complex and I’m a sucker for unusual flavor combinations, especial when they harmonize as well as this. The roll was filled with shrimp tempura and crab and was topped with spicy tuna, avocado, something called charred scallion sauce, and bonito flakes.
The roll was creamy and crunchy inside from the mayonnaise-crab mixture and shrimp tempura inside. The avocado and spicy tuna on top were great, but the way the funky shaved bonito flavor mixed the the garlicky, rich charred scallion cream sauce absolutely made the roll. I found myself oddly entranced by it.
Though I’m a sushi purist at heart, I can certainly get down with some well executed fusion sushi every now and then. And if I’m looking for that kind of thing in Silicon Valley, Sushi Confidential is the first place I’d think to go. Though from the looks of the place you might not expect it, the fish was surprisingly high-quality and the menu selections were super interesting. Despite the setback of dining during a rowdy Sharks game, I received nothing but honest-to-God attentive, caring service throughout the entire length of my meal. Cheers to you, Sushi Confidential. You are a fine example of how great non-traditional sushi can be.
Got another sushi spot in Silicon Valley I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.
247 E. Campbell Ave. Campbell, CA 95008