Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Mia Sushi in Eagle Rock
I think it's fair to say that Eagle Rock is on the Eastside of L.A., insofar as it's on the east side of the L.A. River. I agree that it's probably inaccurate to refer to Los Feliz or Echo Park as Eastside.
But that's neither here nor there. Whatever Eagle Rock is, it's definitely not Westside. What is Westside? It's an Audi convertible, a $125 haircut, a perfect tan, a small dog, an $80 t-shirt, a fixed nose, a botulized forehead, a waxed back, and non-ironic sunglasses.
Someone at Mia Sushi (Eagle Rock Blvd. & Las Colinas) must have misheard the numbers on the zip code when they were shopping for their location over the phone, because Mia Sushi is a 90049 or 90401 place plopped down in our very un-Westside 90041.
It’s telling that Mia Sushi is one of the few places in Eagle Rock that offers valet service. The presence of the valet booth in front of the restaurant is a bit ludicrous, given the restaurant’s location on a ramshackle, utterly inglorious stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard, stuffed between apartment buildings, near the bowling alley and Señor Fish. It’s as if the owners ripped off the standard template for a swanky Westside place (dim lighting, water feature, anonymous Eurotrash music, pebbles in the bathroom sink, valet parking, etc.) and just slavishly followed that template on a grungy block on Eagle Rock Boulevard. (I will note that the décor is dumb (and borderline offensive), with the Buddha heads throughout the restaurant inscribed with the Katakana (the Japanese syllabary used for loanwords) characters for “Mia” on their foreheads – but I’m probably overreacting to that.)
Perhaps Mia Sushi is a self-conscious and farsighted anachronism, a visitor from what its owners see as Eagle Rock’s possible future: where smartly dressed valet attendants are instructed to keep the BMWs, Porsches, and Lexus convertibles prominently parked right in front of Casa Bianca, where the Ultimate Fighting Club has been replaced by an Equinox, a plastic surgery center, or a colonics clinic, and where all of the car repair shops have been taken over by Persian rug shops, antiques dealers, and a Design Within Reach. (Indeed, Mia Sushi’s site announces that it “is the new restaurant reinventing the Eagle Rock community with stunning art décor, an intimate patio setting, and serving [sic] the freshest ocean fare.” Or perhaps it’s just one of those things that’s not like the other, the way The Bucket would stick out in Beverly Hills. (Perhaps, if The Bucket did move to Beverly Hills, some Bizarro Grigori Octopus would be writing a review bemoaning how bizarre it was that a place like The Bucket would open shop in the 90210 – although, these kinds of things don’t work on a perfect parallel. The Bucket might in fact work in Beverly Hills: it would just be six times more expensive (“authenticity” and “back to basics” don’t come cheap) and a lot cleaner looking.)
The food at Mia Sushi is fine, not great. I’m not a huge fan of sushi to begin with, but even an amateur like myself can tell that it’s basically sushi-by-the-numbers here, with a set of “creative” special rolls, which mostly involve filling things with cream cheese, flavored mayonnaise (“special sauce”), or fried bits and naming the rolls after things around the neighborhood (e.g., “Colorado Roll,” “Occidental Roll,” “Highland Park Roll,” etc.). They also have a set of “Special Salads,” which are basically your standard Asian-fusiony salads with pieces of chicken, fried noodles, and red cabbage mixed together under an “Asian” dressing. The service is usually fine, if a little more self-consciously fancy (and coolly distant) than at other Eagle Rock establishments. The prices are a bit more Westside than at other Eagle Rock places as well. It is sushi, after all, I guess – though Nobu, it isn’t.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I think it’s probably a good thing to have a place like Mia Sushi in the neighborhood. It’s surprising to come across, not what you’d expect to find – like Seafood City in the mall. I highly doubt that Eagle Rock Boulevard will ever become the Westside-style stretch of high-end furniture and clothing boutiques and pricey restaurants that Mia Sushi apparently foresees in its on-going project to “reinvent” Eagle Rock (and I sincerely hope this never happens), but, still, Mia Sushi’s somewhat absurd ambitions and pretensions are kind of cute, if silly.
Not open for lunch.