When a friend requested assistance with a project, I offered to meet close to their Anaheim home. As luck would have it, someone suggested a sushi place near by that I would find interesting.
Last seen rolling on the radar in downtown Fullerton, “Sushi Dave” resurfaced about a year ago inside the Venetian Gentlemen's Club. The tricks he turns don't involve a pole, but do include a creme brulee torch and lots of sake. Not being one to turn down a locale with ambiance, I was encouraged to offer a woman's point-of-view. In retrospect, any of my co-workers probably would've received the silent treatment from their significant others if they wrote this up– so you're welcome!
Pulling up to the club, the Venetian's exterior was more Medieval Times than questionable lounge. Located just off the freeway, I could hear the buzz of traffic flying by on the 91. While this wasn't my first gentlemen's club (this one time, back in college. . . .) it was a first for me to arrive alone. Crossing the parking lot, I spotted another female rolling a suitcase behind her. Figuring she was starting her late shift, I avoided potentially awkward eye contact and walked thru the entry.
The man behind the counter was pleasant. As professional as professional can be in this type of establishment. After informing him I was there for dinner, he informed me there would be a $10 entrance fee, but I barely heard him over the dance music on the other side of the door. Actually, I almost didn't hear because my heart was pounding rather loudly. He gave me the choice of either walking up the staircase in the middle of the club, or opting for the elevator. I stared so hard at the 'Up' button, you'd think looking back would turn me into a pillar of salt. As I stepped in and swiveled around, I caught just a glimpse of a stilettoed dancer strutting on the platform. Going up!
On the second level there's the DJ area, open seating, enclosed booths (for, uh, privacy?) and a sushi bar that seats roughly 10 patrons. This is where my dining companion saved a bar stool. From our perch, we face a corner of the restaurant that is away from the dancers. Of course, the upstairs opens up in the middle like an Embassy Suites, allowing for some unobstructed people watching if we so choose. I learn from the guy a few seats over that dancers are technically not allowed upstairs — maybe for sanitation reasons? Yet I notice at least one woman saunter up to say “hey” to Dave, because who doesn't want to make nice with the chef?
While the general menu does offer some generic burger fare, we are here for the seafood. Nothing else. I suppose if you're drunk enough, greasy starch would do. However, you're on your own if that's the path you desire. We are not sushi purists, but the tastiest stuff offered is in fact of the roll variety. Stop reading now if this doesn't turn you on.
After you get past ogling his threesome of themed delights (sex roll, one night stand, and the lollipop), the remainder of Dave's menu is unadulterated with curious nibbles. Their namesake dish and something referred to as the kitchen sink would provide our entertainment for the evening as we settled in and watched him work. Alternating between expediting orders, minimal conversation and glancing at his
unit iPhone, this would be his routine for most of the night. Other than the occasional help and cocktail server, the sushi bar was his domain.
What he's most known for is his sauce; its taste so enticing, he's bottled it for the masses. This jalapeno condiment is the hidden talent in our orders, and it performs exceptionally well. The Venetian specialty, containing shrimp tempura and peppercorn crusted tuna laid on top, comes alive when it makes contact with the secret sauce. Dave's use of soy paper and crab in his hand roll gives an almost delicate touch to this dish. Though the sink's bite is unleashed with a drizzle of smokey green. It creates a slow, but pleasurable heat to our palate. While we did order a couple more plates, part of our meal became a blur shortly after our untouched sake cups disappeared, only to reappear filled with scalding hot liquid.
To my knowledge, I was the only paying female in the establishment. While there was a brief double take by the other gentlemen around the bar, by the end of our meal we were all toasting with chef too many times for it to even matter. The quiet guy at the other end even stopped by to wish us a good night. Next to us, our new pal Adam confessed to following Dave's sushi exploits for at least the last decade, but wouldn't consider himself a groupie or anything. Though I could've situated myself with a better view, our camaraderie would never have happened. Walking down the winding staircase, I acknowledged the woman gyrating onstage. My dinner turned out more enjoyable than expected. Next time I'd consider a lap dance.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.