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Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Sushi

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LAist sometimes gets an intense craving for sushi that cannot go unheeded. In a pinch those little plastic supermarket packs will do, but, let's face it, sometimes you just need the real deal. Ventura Boulevard from end to end boasts countless strip-mall sushi joints; miss the turn for one and another is a half a block away. But with sushi, any hole in the wall simply won't do. Freshness, value, and variety play a huge role in the almighty quest for the sit-down sushi roll.

It was a happy accident that landed LAist inside Studio City's Maeda Sushi the other night. The neon sign in the window reads "All You Can Eat," which often signals sub-par fare and what could be sushi's answer to the Sizzler. But the room was warm and welcoming, and filled with folks sharing dinner with friends, on dates, or flying solo. The "All You Can Eat" deal is $22.95 at dinnertime, and does come with a few rules: you can order three items at a time, and you have to finish everything on your plate before you can order more.

Behind the bar three skilled sushi masters rolled, pressed, chopped, sliced and served the tantalizing rolls on the menu. The Sunset roll is as big as the palm of your hand, and mixes fresh vegetables with three kinds of fish. The Studio roll has crispy tempura battered shrimp mixed with hunks of avocado and spicy tuna. LAist listened in as regular patrons oohed and aahed over each dish that was set before them, heaping praise on the Rainbow Roll, the Soft Shell Crab hand roll, and the Crunch Crab Roll. The chefs had an eye on their customers, making sure they liked what they had and encouraging them to try something new or special. By the end of the second round we were worn out and full to the max, having to put aside ambitions to sample more from the menu at another time. Maeda Sushi definitely meets all the criteria for a return visit.

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Maeda Sushi 11622 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City (818) 623-7888