After lunch at Compagno’s Market & Deli, I spent my afternoon in Monterey visiting various hotspots in Monterey. These hotspots included Cannery Row, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, and Lover’s Point. At this point it was getting dark, I decided to grab a light meal and start my 2-hour drive to the airport. Like many people, one of my favorite light meals is sushi. Honestly, I had never been a fan of Sushi until my recent trip to Japan. I think this stemmed from a bad experience I had with sushi in law school. However, I promised Stephanie I would try it in Tokyo; if I did not like it there I never would. Once I had sushi in Japan, I have not stopped eating it. So I decided to head to Crystal Fish
I did not plan on eating a Crystal Fish during the planning stages of my monterey trip. Initially, I planned on eating fish and chips at Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant, but after all I had ate during the day it just seemed to heavy. So I pulled out my phone and ran a quick search of the best sushi joints in Monterey. Crystal Fish showed up top at of almost all lists and won best sushi in Monterey by Monterey County Weekly for 6 years running. Crystal Fish seemed to meet all my requirements so I drove over.
The restaurant is in a very unassuming building located about a six minute walk from Cannery Row and about a 10 minutes walk from Monterey Bay Aquarium. Though close to the biggest tourist attractions in Monterey, Crystal Fish seemed like a place for locals. As I sat at the bar, I witnessed the waiters addressed several customers who walked in by name. The decor itself had a very dated upscale Asian restaurant look. I could tell what they were going for, but it seemed in dire need of a refresh.
Crystal Fish Food
Crystal fish had food options for both sushi lovers and non-sushi lovers. In addition to sushi, their menu includes tempura, udon noodles, teriyaki, and various salads. The sushi/sashimi/nigiri menus seemed endless; in all there were 70 different options. These options varied from your typical spicy tuna rolls to speciality rolls which combined different fish and sauces.
I kept it cheap and simple ordering the Negihama (yellowtail and green onion) and a Shrimp Tempura Roll. While not the best sushi I have had recently (I did just get back from Japan afterall), it was delicious. To my tastes, they properly prepare the sushi (I have been eating sushi 3 months I am definitely no expert), the yellow tail seemed fresh, and they keep the flavor of the sauces served from overpowering the flavors of the fish. This is easy to do for the more simple rolls, but I am curious whether they are able to keep this balance when it comes to their specialty rolls.
Crystal Fish Price
Sushi Rolls at Crystal Fish are priced between $6 (for basic rolls) and $14 for their most extravagant rolls. This is about the going rate for sushi in the Seattle area, so to me the prices seemed fair. Their non-sushi entrees were priced between priced $17.50-$28 which is more than I would pay for something like teriyaki or tempura, but that is just me. Though a bit on the expensive side for dinner, their lunch menu is pretty amazing. Their hand roll lunch allows you to choose 3 handrolls for 12.50 and their Nigri lunch gives you 5 pieces of assorted nigiri and 6 pieces of California roll for $14. These prices are pretty good considering all of their lunches come with miso soup. In all, I paid about $13 pretax for my sushi, which is reasonable, but not great.
Crystal Fish provides quality sushi at a decent price. While it is never going to be the steal of the century, their lunch specials are very good value. If you happen to be in Monterey and are craving a nice sushi lunch, Crystal Fish should be your go to spot.