May 04, 2011

Sunny Blue

Fact: Weather affects our mood daily. (duh, Doah).

I first learned of S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder while living in Boston.  Fortunately, I never fell victim to it, but I definitely went through spells of madly missing Cali's warm sun, cool breezes, and sunny blue skies.  Now that I'm back in LA, I still can't get enough of how great we have it out here. { let me count some of the ways }  And can we give a shout out to how wonderful the weather's been the past few days?  Summer, we've been waiting for you!

So as you can imagine, with another beautiful day  in the books, I hopped on my bike without a second thought and made my way to Sunny Blue on Main St, "the first Omusubi shop in Southern California!"  It was only fitting.

Omusu-wha??  Omusubi, also referred to as onigiri, or best understood as seaweed-wrapped rice balls (or triangles) filled with meat or veggies, is a traditional Japanese treat.  You can learn more about it here.  Although I didn't grow up eating this, my mom would occasionally make me spam musubi.  Subi-wubi's - they're all part of the same fam-bam!

Sunny Blue is great for three main reasons:

1) They have a customer appreciation card.  And no, it's not their cheap attempt to get customers to come back to mediocre food.  Rather, it's just a simple, but thoughtful gesture of "Hi, thank you for coming, please come again."  And why yes, I will... because 10 of your delicious subi's will win one freebie on the house!  Plus, who doesn't like winning?  (BTW, I don't always buy into deals like these but...) Why doesn't every restaurant do this?  Why is this important to me?  Who knows.

2) The food is actually good and worth the hype.  Granted, I can probably make 'em at home for a quarter of the price.  I'm Asian.  I have rice and seaweed at my disposal.  And yes, I did just stereotype myself.  But when you don't have the time, the resources, or quite frankly, the energy, you go to places like Sunny Blue for guaranteed yumminess.

While I waited for my miso beef and kara tuna subi's, I enjoyed the complimentary iced barley tea, which quenched my thirst perfectly.  Sometimes, a hint of barley hits the spot better than regular water.  In just a few short minutes, I was presented with this.

Miso beef (L) and Kara Tuna (R)

But, but... they look the same!  I ordered two different things!
Just watch and see/ learn...

I decided to go with the miso beef first, mainly because it appeared to be Sunny Blue's favorite and best-seller (according to Yelpers).  I was not disappointed.  The fluffy sticky rice that envelopes the well-seasoned beef hit the right buds in my mouth, and everything just melded into perfect harmony.  Ew, who writes like that?  Not I.  Let's just keep it simple and say, it's as awesome as it looks.

Next up, big tuna.

To my slight dismay, it was canned tuna... but perhaps I shouldn't be expecting more from a $2.60 rice ball?  I wouldn't have minded a spicier kick, but that's just me.  Overall, this is tasty too, but miso beef wins.

3)  Fantastic customer service.  With likeable owner Keiko behind the counter, wrapping (rapping would be cool too) and rolling, and the other nice employee (whose name I didn't catch) at my service, the overall vibe is personable and pleasant.  It's a hole-in-the-wall place I wouldn't mind staying in for a while longer.

If these aren't good reasons for you to check out Sunny Blue, I'm not sure what are.  I've still got 8 more flavors to try before I win my prize so if you want to join in on my next trip, holler!  And maybe next time, some froyo will also be part of the agenda.  I hear pink grapefruit is worth the trip alone.

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cuisine:  Japanese
location: Santa Monica
hours: M-Th: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM; Fri-Sat: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM; Sun: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
website: { SByelp }
attire: Casual
parking: street meters or public lots along Main St.
notes:  Seating is very limited and it is not good for big groups.  That said, if you're part of a big group, just pick up your omusubi's and walk over to the beach which is literally a block away.  Worth it.
try: Miso beef omusubi and the iced barley tea.