When I say sake you say bomb. Sake. Bomb. Sake! Bomb! SAKE! BOMB!

Patrons who frequent Isla Vista’s Caliroll Express are more familiar with this incantation than their mother’s lullabies.

Located at 888 Embarcadero Del Norte, Caliroll Express is a great destination for sushi, tempura, teriyaki bowls and of course the notorious sake bomb special, a 22-ounce bottle of Japanese beer and a cold bottle of sake at a price that’s hard to beat.

Owners Brian and Jason Yoo

Caliroll Express has been a staple of Isla Vista for over three years but has recently come under new ownership. The new owners, Brian and Jason Yoo have given the sushi bar a facelift including new lighting and a new HDTV mounted on the wall in view of all the tables. The recipes are the same but the menu is now expanded, one of the additions is the popular shrimp tempura taco. “We want to provide healthy food that is an alternative to the normal IV food,” said Brian Yoo. “We’re one of the few places in IV where you can get a real meal for under five dollars,” he added in reference to one of the restaurant’s most popular items, the teriyaki chicken bowl.

Beyond food, it’s the environment that makes Caliroll Express such a popular place. The staff is upbeat and is quick to engage customers in conversation. In fact the owners are on a first name basis with a large part of the clientele. “I find Caliroll to be the best dining experience in Isla Vista,” says Harper Hvid, a UCSB student and Caliroll Express regular. “The atmosphere is always jovial, the employees are always friendly and it’s a healthy place to eat and party.”

One of the main reasons for such camaraderie surely stems from the wall covered with Polaroids of drunken shenanigans. “That’s what we call the Sake Bomb Wall of Fame or Shame, depending on how many you had that night,” says Brian Yoo.

The staff will often take pictures of customers – regulars and newbies – sake bombing and will also join in from time to time. If you’re really lucky you just might catch them break into a doo-wop, Motown-esque dance number. Another popular feature of Caliroll Express is band night, where acts perform concerts and the hours are extended from the usual 9 p.m. to midnight. “We want to showcase acts from IV and around the Santa Barbara area,” says Brian Yoo. “Plus it’s a great reason for some late-night sake bombing.”

So whether it’s pitchers and sashimi out on the sun-drenched patio during the daytime or a crunchy roll and sake inside at night, Caliroll Express always provides and entertaining and appetizing experience.

For a full menu check out www.calirollexpress.com.


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