Our first night in Santa Cruz we arrived hungry and tired after making the long trek from the Valley to the sea. In our childless days we’d think nothing of a trip like that and look immediately for some form of entertainment before reluctantly climbing into bed past midnight. Now, however, the sheer effort of going anywhere with a toddler drained us to the point that choosing a restaurant for dinner was an effort.
Anthony were searching for something both close by and delicious – the fact that it be affordable went without saying. A place called I Love Sushi caught our eye and we decided to try it out. Almost as soon as we got there they set out sunomono and delicious fried squid. I love me some fried squid and so does Isobel. Isobel tried octopus before her first birthday and it was a big success. (Shrimp went over less enthusiastically.)
Anthony ordered a Sapporo and I got piping hot tea. We were ravenous from the drive and the cold sea air and we fell on the appetizers greedily. Over the course of our dinner we were showered with more gifts on the house: sweet, piping hot sake, California rolls, edamame. I ordered shrimp tempura and the shrimp was so fresh it was unlike any I’d ever had before. The only way I can describe its freshness was that it was shrimpier than other shrimp and very tasty.
Anthony ordered a roll and some pork udon, which they made especially for him, as the pork version wasn’t on the menu. The service was so attentive and friendly Anthony kept thinking that they mistook us for someone important. I kept telling him I really doubt there are two famous people who look like us and have a one-year-old baby that we’re not aware of. They just have really good service.
Our next trip was even better. I don’t remember what Anthony ordered but I got a vegetarian roll with sweet potato tempura and macadamia nuts whimsically called The Wham Bam Thank You Yam.
It was slightly less crowded the second night so the staff had time to fawn over Isobel. They didn’t mind the total mess she made of her food at the table and they brought her a special bowl of miso soup filled with white rice. They made a pair of child-friendly chopsticks and Isobel enjoyed spearing avocado with them and pinching them together for affect. It was her first experience with chopsticks and it made me want to run to Diaso for the child-friendly chopsticks immediately.
If you’re in Santa Cruz I highly recommend you try I Love Sushi, but skip the poisoned beach.