The California roll doesn’t even exist in traditional sushi, but it’s a good indicator of how sushi has become a global cuisine. It is sold in Russia, Brazil, Poland and practically every city in the United States. While it evolved slowly over the past century in Japan, its progress elsewhere has, over the past few decades, been swift.
Randy Musterer fully embraces the idea of “American” sushi and makes a point to be as innovative and non-traditional as possible. Before opening Sushi Confidential in downtown Campbell in April 2012, he held sushi making parties for friends, worked part time as a sushi chef (while working full time in the bio-tech industry) and started a sushi catering company in 2006. But the idea for Sushi Confidential was to push the boundaries as much as possible, which is apparent in the modernized, Americanized ambience. He keeps his restaurant open till midnight every day, in part because other sushi bars do not. Sushi Confidential serves cocktails and some atypical appetizers (tacos, sliders, etc.).
Though the menu includes some standard sushi offerings, the focus is on Musterer’s own signature creations, each with their own distinct names, including some playful references to downtown Campbell: “Cardiff (By the Sea)” and “Khartoum Double Agent.” From a style point of view, his rolls aren’t much different than more traditional Japanese-style sushi bars, but his choice of ingredients are: sweet potato crisps, jalapeño, asparagus, macadamia nuts.
I started with the Surf’s Up ($14). It’s on the “cooked rolls” portion of the menu. It resembles a California Roll, but doesn’t have avocado, and is topped with a slice of rib-eye steak. While the idea of rib-eye on sushi seemed odd, it wasn’t actually a big stretch flavor-wise and went almost unnoticed when I was eating it. The Cabo Conspiracy ($9) is a spicy roll with a little bit of a Mexican influence. It comes with sweet & sour sauce, and is quite tangy overall.
One of the most popular items on the menu is the RSM, which comes as a half-order ($13) or full-order ($19). It’s a bit of a mouthful. The bottom portion is a tempura-fried California roll, and it’s topped with crab, tuna, scallop, salmon and albacore, as well as a couple different sauces, macadamia nuts and green onions. I could barely fit it in my mouth. The blend of flavors is quite good, with the taste of the fried tempura hitting front and center.
My favorite was the Geisha Girl ($14). There’s nothing too unusual on it (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon, green onion, lemon, macadamia nuts) but the combination of flavors, along with the mixture of sauces, give it a high degree of complexity: sweet, sour, tangy, spicy. It was thoroughly pleasing to the senses.