Lakeville Garden Sushi, located in an unassuming shopping center at the corner of Casa Grande Road and South McDowell Boulevard, used to be the home of a Chinese restaurant with the same name. About two years ago, it was taken over by Billy and Sarah Chong and reopened as a Japanese eatery. Even though they kept the name Lakeville Garden, not much else is the same.
Upon entering the restaurant, everyone is heartily greeted by sushi bar chefs Danny and Jeff, each classically trained in Los Angeles in the making of sushi. You may sit at the bar to watch them ply their technique, or sit at a quiet table in the main dining room or in the even more secluded back room.
Students from nearby Casa Grande High School come by for lunch on weekdays around 12:30 p.m. and significantly liven up the room, but most diners enjoy the elegant and serene Asian atmosphere.
The menu offers a mix of sushi pieces, sashimi, and an extensive selection of sushi rolls, both deep fried and with various toppings. They also serve traditional Japanese entrees of teriyaki, donburi, and udon (steaming noodle soups), as well as salads, tempura (batter dipped and fried vegetables and fish) and katsu (deep fried meats breaded with panko).
There are several appetizers available — cooked from the kitchen and raw from the sushi bar. The entrees all come with green tea, a delicious light miso soup, and a complimentary dessert of either deep fried oreos or sliced pineapple. Bento boxes are served for lunch, with a choice of two items from listed choices, or dinner, with a choice of three items.
The Chongs also own and operate O! Sushi in Santa Rosa. Billy Chong is the sushi chef there and at times here in Petaluma. According to Sarah, they got their start as restaurant owners in Michigan, but moved to California to be closer to family and because of the harsh winters in the mid-west. She notes that they only use the very freshest ingredients, changing their specials weekly, depending on what is available from their supplier in Oakland. So far they have been very busy, both at lunch and during the dinner hour.
My friend and I each decided to try a Bento box lunch. Her choices were Chicken Katsu, a chicken cutlet breaded with Panko and delicately fried, and two sushi pieces, one tuna and one shrimp, which she reported were delicious.
I opted for the tempura mix, a selection of vegetables and shrimp, batter dipped and also nicely fried, and a spicy tuna roll, which was spicy fresh tuna and cucumber rolled in sticky sushi rice ($9.95 for each Bento box lunch). Bento boxes come with a small side order of black beans, a green salad, and pickled daikon.
The servings are generous; neither one of us was able to finish the entire meal. And the service was excellent. Our lunches were delivered to us in little over five minutes of placing our orders — a definite plus for those taking time away from the office for lunch.
We did opt to try the oreo dessert, which are classic oreos flash fried in a tempura batter. I'm not sure I'd make it a habit, but it was fun to try.