Tamaya Sushi & Grill
2131 J St., Sacramento

By Corey Bloom

It seems odd that in spite of the worst economic conditions this country has seen in decades that we are just now coming around to reviewing a sushi restaurant. Trust me, my wallet is just as malnourished as yours, but if I’m going to indulge in one meal, it would have to be sushi. For one, I can’t make it (very well), so going out to sushi is always a treat. Most importantly though, whenever I eat sushi I always feel good afterward, not greasy or bloated, but refreshed and in a Zen-like food coma. If I’m going to splurge, at the very least I want to feel good about myself afterward, and sushi is always that meal for me.

In the time I’ve been in Sacramento, I’ve tried a good chunk of the sushi restaurants. I’ve gone through phases where one spot will be my favorite, and I will frequent that spot almost exclusively. About six months into my Sacramento experience, I discovered Tamaya Sushi & Grill, located at 2131 J St., a couple doors down from Tappa the World, and directly across the street from the One Man Band if you come on a weekend night. The décor is modern, and the energy is lively in both the main dining area and in the back bar area, which also doubles as a nice place to chill and grab a drink. The wait staff is attentive and helpful while giving you space and letting you enjoy your experience. Yes, this is going to be another one of those glowing reviews, but in all the times that I have been to Tamaya I have never had a bad meal, or even a bad dish.

It’s hard to look past Tamaya’s extensive menu. Picking it up is like lifting a book, with detailed descriptions of each dish or roll. I’m not even going to begin to count everything they offer, but sections include over 30 appetizers, noodles, Donburi, a healthy amount of Nigiri rolls, as well as 17 special rolls, 13 for “everyone” and 20 spicy rolls (which I generally choose from). Deciding what to get is the biggest dilemma you will face at Tamaya.


Starting with the appetizers, the spicy sashimi salad has always been a favorite to kick the meal off. The hot factor is not overbearing, and pairs nicely with the bite sized pieces of fish and the flavor of the marinated onions. I can also testify to the barbecued albacore, which is not comparable to another local variation, but nonetheless a nice start to any meal. I’m a sucker for barbecued tuna and garlic. Glancing down the menu, though, all the appetizers appear to be excellent and elegant.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never ventured into the entrees section of the menu, because, let’s face it, if you’re going to Japanese food, you’ve got to get sushi. With that said, let’s get into the good stuff.

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. There are so many good features on the menu, but perhaps what stands out the most is the portions and quality of Tamaya’s fish. The portions are so generous that sometimes two rolls can make a perfect meal for two, especially for lunch. All the rolls are huge, sometimes almost too big to fit in your mouth in one bite. Oftentimes my girlfriend will get three bites out of a roll, which she has convinced herself helps her savor it more. This could hold some truth, but it’s just something I can’t do. Aside from the rolls, the sauces vary, so unlike some places that use the same three sauces on every roll, Tamaya’s rolls are all very distinct. Some of my favorite rolls on the menu include the 007, which has creamy spicy tuna, with torched salmon and avocado on the top. The Used Car Salesmen (quite a paradox) is also delectable, boasting spicy tuna, crab, avocado, shrimp tempura and then topped with red and white tuna.

Special and spicy rolls range from $9-$18, but as mentioned you can get by getting one or two. Love is a powerful word, but I love Tamaya.