Sawa (Sunnyvale, CA) – The Sashimi Club
Sawa – it is one of the most incongruous high-end dining experiences in America – located in Sunnyvale (re: nowhere) in a strip mall (re: next to Subway.) Menus and prices are not offered, merely discovered. The place settings, irony at its finest, depict the typical pieces of nigiri – none of which will be served. The fish, of the highest quality available in America, can come in such large quantities that one wonders if the ocean might just quit after the meal. The naysayers decry that Sawa strokes its customers’ unchecked egos but, masters of the universe or not, the regular patrons merely celebrate the brilliant seafood hidden beyond that neon Sawa sign.
Raw Scottish lobster, killed seconds before serving
Sawa is more like a private club than restaurant, many of the customers fiercely loyal and oft-repeating. Yes, much of the clientele is wealthy and male – many of the conversations revolve around exotic cars and watches – that’s just the demographic of the place.1 But more so than most places, customers build a rapport and relationship with Sawa, thanks to the intimacy of the restaurant.2 It is a continuous journey through the seasons with Steve-san serving as your guide.3 The first-time visitor can be intimidated but if their love of food shows, which should be hard to suppress with fish this sensational, the fish club will be more than welcoming – we are there to eat.
The pictures below were from a five-hour meal last week, enjoyed with three friends (and a few more sitting at the bar – the place is like Cheers.) Not everything is pictured – only the photos that turned out. Note-taking mode was turned off – this is a post to keep your virtual appetite whetted while the Noma, Geranium, and The Sportsman posts write themselves. It was a sensational meal and it has been included in the A1 Best Meals category.4
1 – If you listen closely at Masa, Urasawa, or Kuruma; you will hear the exact same conversations. If you are fortunate enough to visit Japan, and visit a top-tier sushi restaurant, the men having these conversations (most 45+) are also accompanied by 18yr old women with day-glow fingernails and glitter mascara; again, it’s just the demograhic.
2 – There are rarely more than 5-6 customers at any given time.
3 – I have been on this journey for 10 years now!
4 – A trend that will be repeated with upcoming posts.