Some wiki reviews:
Pretty good sushi considering Rochester's proximity from any body of salt water. (says one reviewer)
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2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I went there once for vegetarian sushi, and it was pretty bad. Not very much avocado on the menu, and what they had wasn't ripe. I ordered a tempura veggie roll, and even though they had tempura veggies on the menu, the made the roll and stuck the whole thing in the deep frier. And put cream cheese inside (which is not ok)1. About what I expected from a place that had inflatable sumo wrestlers hanging on the walls. —SquiggyWombat
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? Absolutely disgusting. I went in with a party of five and we walked out after a few minutes because a) the table was dirty and sticky (until we asked the waitress to clean it for us); b) the menus were dirty and sticky (to the point where we didn't want to touch them), c) two of our five place settings had food caked onto the dishes, d) it made us very uncomfortable to watch the sushi chef eat while she prepared food, and e) two or three of us (not including me) thought there was an unpleasant smell pervading the entire restaurant. We had all been working hard all afternoon and we were starved, but there was no way we were going to stay and eat here. — StevenLandsburg
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I like the place. Sure it's not perfectly clean, and they screw up orders sometimes, and their ingredients are not as fresh as possible, but dammit, I like the place. -FarMcKon
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I also like the place. It's not proper sushi, it's bastardized American sushi; it's loud and dirty and the waitresses are heavily tattooed. But I'm a loud dirty American who has no taste. Thus I think it's good. —RyDahl
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I've had good and bad dining experiences here.
The good experiences are enough to keep me coming back. — RobertPolyn
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I kind of like the food, but they have lousy business practices. We were waiting for a table and they were seating people ahead us who clearly came in after us. On top of that, they put some hidden charges on the bill.
2005-??-?? ??:??:?? I am shocked at all of the negative reviews here. I am a very big fan of Sushi and California Rollin' is by far my favorite Sushi restaurant in Rochester. I eat there at least twice a week. The fish is always very fresh (I've been there in the morning to see the whole Tuna's and Salmon's delivered), the menu is very extensive (a much greater variety of maki and nagiri than I have seen anywhere else), the staff is very friendly and the prices are excellent. Highly recommended. — JakeBurgholzer
2005-11-07 09:34:16 "it's not perfectly clean, and they screw up orders sometimes, and their ingredients are not as fresh as possible," Whoah—if this is a description of a sushi restaurant— RUN AWAY, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! —TobinFricke
By 'not perfectly clean' I mean 'It's clean, but not perfectly clean. Yeah, I do admit that they screw up orders sometimes.
2005-11-24 01:19:34 A lot of mixed reviews here. I've had good experiences at CR; no complaints from here. Probably depends on the chefs, who tend to be stoned kids. YMMV. —MariahBetz
2005-12-14 20:17:15 I have to agree with most of the negative reviews — that is, when talking about the Goodman St. location; the Charlotte location is *much* more attractive; it's sparkling clean, smells like food, and watching the chefs at work is appetizing, not the reverse. I've never had "real" sushi, so I won't speak to that — but my Western palate simply loves the CR II! —TracyLogan
2006-01-27 15:56:47 I like the Charlotte location because they don't mind that I bring in my sub from Quizno's while my fiance eat's her sushi. Neither places ever seemed "dirty" to me. —KeithWoz
2006-01-29 04:53:32 The Charlotte location is a lot nicer than the Goodman, not to mention it's a great deal less busy. On a Sunday, you can expect a 20 minute wait to get in at Goodman. —ChrisGoodenbury
2006-04-03 02:26:19 I've eaten here countless times over the past few years. Every time I've been, I've had a slow, inattentive, and usually rather bitchy waitress. The order is always mixed up, sometimes to the point where it needs to be sent back. The sushi is mediocre and half the time it's a crapshoot as to whether or not they have what you want. Now, if one were to run a sushi bar like that in say, New York, they would probably get shot. Here its just positively Rochester. Don't get me wrong, I adore California Rollin' as a place with some real character. Believe you me, every time I've gone there I've had a fantastic time, getting loaded and eating raw fish in the Village Gate basement has a certain charm that you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere in Rochester. It's also a little easier to see past the grittiness at a place that serves ozeki sake for less than a buck every Thursday. Rock on. —ElmontSinclair
2006-04-10 14:22:27 Cream cheese is only vegetarian if the person calls themselves a lacto-vegetarian. Just vegetarian is just vegetables. Vegan is a more stricter view of what is an animal product and what isn't, such as most vegans refuse to wear leather, etc. —BridgetteTaylor
2006-05-06 01:58:17 I have eaten here several times and love it. Admittedly, in my entire life I have eaten sushi at another place only once, so I have no basis for comparison. But I have brough friends and family members here for their first sushi experience, and they all loved it. My sister-in-law, who spent a semester of high school in Japan, says that it is among the best sushi she has had in the US. —KevinBlinn
2006-06-11 13:29:46 Ditto to every single cleanliness comment. But I'm not above going for the nigiri special once in a blue moon (shame on me) - except every other table in the place has Cali roll. Just because the place is thus named, doesn't mean ordering that is mandatory. Try the real (i.e. raw) stuff. Unless your diet forbids it (had to add this disclaimer so as not to get one's head chewed off - but then again, I guess that's silly since we're talkin' vegetarians!). —ChristineLeo
2006-06-12 05:46:25 For all the cleanliness comments, has anyone filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of their latest health department inspection? Claiming the place is unsanitary when they don't have violations is probably libel. —JasonOlshefsky
2006-06-12 05:56:48 I think it is valid - and certainly not libel - to note that a restaurant looks dirty even if they pass their health inspection with flying colors. For example, a lot of restaurants let the grime build up on the condiment bottles, wine list, etc. on the tables. That's perceived as dirty and probably lessens a lot of people's enjoyment of the meal, but it isn't going to lead to a code violation. —RottenChester
2006-06-12 09:36:50 Perhaps I'm part of the minority around here. I LOVE how it's "not clean." The restaraunt feels less sterile. You can just walk in, sit at the bar, and start shootin the shit with the chef's. They are also quite generous with free rolls, as almost every time I've been there I have been offered food from a bad order. Plus even tho I'm a dark beer fan, I can't get enough of the plum beer! —Roc4Life
2006-07-14 05:49:02 I've always loved CR, I've been going there since '98 and have never had a problem with the staff or the quality of the food. That said, I should add that I haven't been there in nearly 2 years so maybe it's gone downhill since they've opened the Charlotte location. Oh, and the smell at the VG location is the fish tank in the middle of the restaurant, not the fish they serve! —ColleenLogan
2006-07-28 15:55:01 I agree with Jake. i have been to sushi bars all over. California Rollin is by far the best in town. They my not have the "traditional" sushi bar feel, but the chefs there are more than proficient and they are very picky about the fish they use. You all need to stop drinking the haterade. There is a reason for the half hour or more wait for a seat there on the weekends. —JoeBeef
2006-08-08 09:50:07 I can't really comment on the raw fish quality since I'm vegetarian. That aside, California Rollin' is one of my favorite places to eat. The tables and menus are a bit sticky, but the food is tasty, and the chefs are more than happy to make custom orders so we can get pretty much any wittily named item on the menu. Make sure you write "VEGAN" in big letters if you don't want cream cheese. —AdamDurand
2006-09-07 18:59:56 I adore sushi and was really looking forward to eating here. I have to say I was incredibly disappointed. I don't mind the "earthy" quality of the place (went to the Goodman St location) at all. I just found the sushi to be incredibly bland and uninspired. I am pretty adventurous but nothing I ordered gave me the "sushi bliss" I get from my local places. —EllenMartin
2006-09-08 12:40:12 Tell us, EllenMartin, what are your favorite sushi places? —AdamDurand
2006-09-08 17:11:58 Adam, I live in California and was visiting Rochester, so my local recs won't be helpful to you. Sorry! If you ever plan on visiting L.A. I'll be happy to tell you my faves. —EllenMartin
2006-09-18 06:50:21 I went very regularly a few years ago and the food was always excellent until one occasion when the food was truly bad. Within a month I heard from 2 other people that also said the food had become inedible. I've never been to the Charlotte location, but seeing they’re both still in business, I’m assuming the owner did something about the quality. —ZedOmega
2006-09-20 17:52:17 This was some of the worst sushi I've ever had. A roll with fried softshell crab and mayonnaise had mayo literally coming out the top. I also tried the Southwedge roll, and came to the conclusion that bacon definitely doesn't belong in sushi. The other rolls I tried were absoultely forgettable. The table was really sticky, and that's never fun. It was also sort of smelly. —AliMcGhee
2006-09-28 18:43:52 The sushi is passable at best. But I do love their fried ice cream - swimming in a pool of hazelnut chocolate sauce (nutella based?). So I will only go there for dessert. —OneLove
2006-11-08 19:27:48 Another glowing review here — we just got back from the Wednesday-night all-you-can-eat, and had the same excellent time we always do. Tonight was at the Charlotte location, but a few weeks ago we tried the Village Gate again, and found it friendly and charming, a notch up from the last time we'd tried it. I'm fascinated by the variety of comments about this place — it's like there are really four locations, and I've only found two of them (the good ones! :) —TracyLogan
2006-11-14 00:15:33 I found nothing wrong with the Village Gate location... met up with a few coworkers for the all-you-can-eat sushi thing, and boy, was it good (although I found the sushi covered in BBQ sauce odd but tasty). —CatherineConnolly
2006-12-01 06:10:12 This is my favorite place for sushi. It is not the cleanest, so if that bothers you I suggest not going, but this is made up for in dollar sake and sapparo nights. My favorite roll is the killer eel and I suggest you avoid the bacon. —TimDoster
2006-12-12 17:04:21 Did someone say the sushi was bland? Sorry if you don't appreciate the flavor of fish by itself. You're probably one of those people that soaks your entire piece in soy sauce before eating it. As far as quality is concerned, california rollin goes through more poundages of raw fish than all the other sushi joints in town combined. Now with that in mind, who do you think has the freshest fish? Them, or the places that take a week to sell off a tuna. Not to mention, if you can't sell a whole 100 lb tuna in a few days then you have to buy just a loin, or a quarter fish....which isn't going to be nearly as fresh as getting it whole. —JoeBeef
2007-01-09 16:55:17 Gave this place a shot last night despite the negative reviews. The service was fairly quick - but I think that was obvious in the quality of the rolls (not the fish, just the preparation). I would give California Rollin' a neutral score, though my husband would give them a negative score. On a positive note, they do have some interesting rolls. Our friend found the miso soup inedible. I prefer House of Sushi on East Ave as they are more authentic, their attention to detail, their more pleasant decor - and mostly because I want edamame when I have sushi. —EllenKelsey
2007-01-10 19:46:18 we had edamame when we went there a few months back... i don't recall it being on the menu, but we asked for it and it was great! —JcPop
2007-02-22 16:23:17 I'm not really into raw fish, but I checked out the menu, found some veggie and cooked rolls, and agreed to go. I'm glad I did! I really liked the character of the place, especially the decor. I didn't find it to be dirty like some other reviewers have complained about, and the service was friendly and pretty quick. There weren't any mix-ups with our order, and I really enjoyed my cucumber and dancing diablo rolls. I'll definitely be back in the future. —RachelBlumenthal
2007-03-23 01:22:17 Sushi's okay, but the ambience doesn't work. Might have something to do with the fact that it smells like you're inside an aquarium. —WegmansFiend
2007-03-23 15:37:45 Hmm, nobody seems to complain that pizza places smell like pizza, or that a bakery smells like bread. —JoeBeef
2007-03-23 18:36:16 A sushi place should not smell like an aquarium. If your sushi smells, well, fishy... give it back and go elsewhere. —KimBee
2007-03-24 21:21:54 I definitely agree with the negative reviews. The place smells “fishy” as in “rotten”, not “it smells like the food there make there”. Usually sushi bars are very clean, but CR reminds me more of a dirty dive bar, not a restaurant. It’s a place you got for the ambiance, NOT for the food. The aquariums there have there a pretty gross, too. They screwed up part of our order and everything, even the part of the order that was correct, was simply awful. Probably the worst sushi I’ve ever had. It didn’t taste fresh at all. Also, a big part of the sushi experience is that the sushi itself is supposed to look beautiful and artistic. That’s not the case at CR. They just throw it together and pile in on the serving tray like it was an order of burgers and fries at some nasty diner. I’m sure if you took a Japanese person to eat there, they’d be beyond appalled at what we gaijin have done to their beloved national cuisine. —RiotSiren
2007-03-26 17:58:43 The food was fine, but I admit the location could use a fresh coat of paint and a professional cleaning. The wife liked the heavy handed American takes on sushi and the dessert roll "The Albino" was interesting and not bad. I'd be hard pressed to bring out of town friends because of the presentation of the restaurant. —TravisOwens
2007-05-02 19:26:30 love this place. no, its not like eating authentic sushi like at Shiki, but its still delicious. RiotSiren - the one thing they can get right is the presentation. whenever i have been there my sushi is always thoughtfully arranged in some sort of spiral design. They probably just didn't like you and your arrogant self righteous attitude. fat slob.—RedDress
2007-05-24 15:41:46 This place was bad. Don't go there. My rolls were falling apart, and the fish wasn't fresh (maybe it was in the morning but had been left out for a while). Maybe I could appreciate it if it was a cheap, fast food sushi place. It lacked that feel, however, and our waitress was bitchy. She basically threw our food onto the grimey table. I probably wouldn't even give this place another chance. —MichelleWoznick
2007-05-24 15:54:56 I recall a few years back (well, OK. Maybe several) this was the first place I'd tried sushi and I absolutely loved it. I finally talked my wife into going there because we'd gotten gift certificates for wedding presents and I was all kinds of excited to go back to a place I used to eat at every Sunday.
Holy crap, people, this place has changed for the worse. "Skanky" is the only appropriate term. They probably haven't washed the walls since the last time I was there. Absolute garbage. —DragonFlyEye
2007-05-29 09:40:36 The wife and I walked in here on a Sunday about 45mins before close, sat down, and found the smell so repugnant that we got up and left. We don't plan on returning to the Village Gate location but I would still be willing to give their new location a chance, only because their americanized take on sushi is interesting. —TravisOwens
2007-06-06 23:44:55 My experience before this [at Goodman] was atrocious. More than half the rolls were california rolls and...my boyfriend was green in the face when we left. I got sick the next day...so, I didn't go back for a solid 2-3 months.
Today, out of sheer curiosity, I checked out the Ferry Terminal location. It is vastly superior to the one in Goodman in several aspects. For starters, the menus were not stuck together. There wasn't a wait [even though it was Wednesday night]. Last but not least, the all you can eat sushi selection served was excellent. We only got one California roll out of the 13 we got! Amazing! And the fish was good quality - i.e I was able to savour it without dunking it in wasabi and soy sauce. Unfortunately, they were out of tempura ice cream :(
So if you have given up on California Rollin', I suggest giving them one more try at the Ferry Terminal. —OneLove
2007-06-08 20:38:52 Village gate location. TERRIBLE SERVICE and WE WERE CHARGED TAX on the GRATUITY and the ALCOHOL. Was forced to give 18 % tip because we were a party of 5 ... even though one of us didn't eat or drink anything! WTF NEVER GOING AGAIN! —CarinaDestito
2007-06-09 17:49:28 Well pretty much every restaurant mandates 18% tip on parties of 5 or more (you can't split hairs about it). I'm not a fan of the practice. I also dislike places that refuse to split a check. Despite you can't really hold this against them, it's rare to find a place that doesn't have these catches. —TravisOwens
2007-06-09 23:57:30 To clarify the above comment by TravisOwen, I don't think you were intending to say that California Rollin' does not allow people to split the check, and were just making a more general statement. Rollin' has always split our checks as many ways as we asked, we just had to ask when we sat down. —StevenDibelius
2007-06-10 00:07:25 I've been to the Village Gate location quite a few times. The stickiness of the table and menus can vary, although they seem to have improved recently (within the past year). I generally like what I eat here, but it's not exactly high quality sushi. I go more for the experience. —StevenDibelius
2007-06-14 13:43:21 Went there for the first time just a few weeks ago. I'd been going to authentic Japanese sushi places for a long time and wanted to try out the American style sushi. It was actually really good and the waitress was very nice and helped my friend with some good recommendations (she had never had sushi before). I think that for the price we got just what we wanted and the rolls we had were really good. The one I had was the south pacific roll. (Remember people, this is American sushi, it's pretty out there.) —AnneRimbach
2007-06-20 17:22:06 I don't care about the food, it doesn't matter if it was good. CHARGING TAX ON THE GRATUITY AND ALCOHOL IS ILLEGAL, as we were with an attorney, we told our waitress that and she smiled and said "I know". We calculated the right price and gave them that and only that. It seems to be a standard busniess practice to get you to give a 20% tip....Totally illegal joint, I'm thinking about calling the BBB —CarinaDestito
2007-06-21 17:34:36 @CarinaDestito - don't bother with the BBB. They're not a government agency, and unless California Rollin' is a member, the BBB has no sway with them. Just contact the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance: http://www.tax.state.ny.us/ —NathanHenderson
2007-07-11 00:50:25 Went here one night (Village Gate Location) and the service was the worst I've ever had anywhere. When asked where our appetizers/salads were after 45 min we were told "You are just going to have to wait". After an hour and 15 min when we had only gotten our salads we requested the check for what we had already had, and canceled the rest of our order (which wasn't even being made yet). We went to pay and another person in my party asked for the waitress' name.. To which she responded "It doesn't matter, it won't get you anywhere. My dad owns the resturant". So much for customer service.. I'll never go to either location again. —JillEllis
2007-07-12 10:38:55 My husband and I have been eating at the Goodman St. location for a few years now. No complaints. We live an hour away and travel to Rochester to shop and dine. We have eaten in many other sushi restaurants, so we do have experience with it. The chefs are very friendly and the sushi is always fresh. —ToniaHatter
2007-07-16 14:20:18 I went to the one at the Ferry Terminal. Based on the hit or miss comments found here, they are right on. You might have a horrible experience or you might have an enjoyable evening. This last time, it was a definite miss.
I was unfortunate to have the server that just didn't care. The total dining time took just over 90 minutes. During that time, the server stopped at the table four times. However, the server who had the section next to my table efficiently managed her tables well and provided them with some of the better service I have seen in this area.
The food was pretty good. It took about 30 minutes to receive the order once the order was made. However, this is more likely caused by the server. The fish was fresh.
They have some of the best specials I have seen in the area. —BrianHughey
2007-07-20 11:39:14 My favorite is the Spicy Tuna Roll and Tempura Clams Casino. I really loved the atmosphere about 8 years ago but now I feel a bit disgusted when we go for dinner. To be honest, it is unnecessarily dirty and I am beginning to feel a bit more squirmish each time we go. The last 3 times I was there we observed customers who were turned off and left before ordering. I love the food but do wish they would clean it up a bit. —ElaineRobinson
2007-09-23 01:30:08 I've eaten at BOTH locations, with simaler experiences each time. The atmosphere is kind of "homey", not "stuffy", the miso soup is EXCELLENT, and the spicy tuna rolls (one of the few seafood items I can eat) are definitely not for the light of heart.
The desert rolls, however, absolutely rock - the Albino roll is very tasty (Raspberry, chocolate and coconut - what's not to like?) and the tempura fried ice cream is always excellent.
2007-10-26 18:58:02 LOL !!!! Surprised they stay in business. —KevinFalzone
2007-10-31 13:19:27 Eaten at Cali Rollin twice, I have no desire to go back. By far one of the worst place for sushi. Tables were dirty, sushi roll's craftsmanship were horrible... —AlexTong
2007-11-01 15:13:43 I am not a fan. Having worked in many restaurants, I am suspicious of any restaurant that smells like bleach when you walk in. In my experience, you only smell that when they are covering up something worse. (However I never worked at Cali' Rollin and don't know for sure.)
I am going to miss my fave rolls there though. —BadFish
2007-11-27 19:12:50 I guess I'd rather have bleach than rotten fish :-( I've worked with seafood for a while and know that you need to clean with a bleach solution to get the fridges clean enough for inspection. But....the place itself is about a 3 out of ten. I've gone to the Village Gate one about four times and once I walked out (horrible smell), twice I had food threw up before my next meal (take that for what it's worth) and one time it was actually pretty good :-) This is the type of place where it's fine as long as you don't get anything too dangerous, so I'd recommend cucumber rolls or smoked eel, but definitely not anything raw. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them for raw fish. —DaveMilitello —DaveMilitello
2007-11-28 13:06:38 I first started going to the Goodman site in '01 and thought it was great for someone afraid of eating raw fish. Then around the time they opened the second branch, the quality declined. A few years I had an experience where my sushi was served warm like it had come out of a microwave. I've been back recently and it's the same deal: wait 20 minutes just to sit at the bar, then get served warm fish by snippy waitresses and listen to the chefs brag about how cool they are. —HaytenWollek
2007-12-03 14:49:59 I went to the Goodman location on November 29 and had a decent meal. I always eat at the bar and have generally had good luck. I almost didn't go because of other reviews posted here — worried that I might even get sick. So when I walked in, I tried to be more critical than usual. I noticed that the place smelled a little "funny" — and by "funny" I specifically mean the sweet, humid "California Rollin' smell" that I had grown accustomed; certainly not "bleachy" or "fishy".
The sushi rolls and nigiri I had were all fresh except for a small fishy whiff from one of the pieces of yellowtail. However, it's been 5 days now and I can safely say I most certainly did not get sick. Now I don't consider it "excellent sushi" but the casual atmosphere and wide variety of Americanized sushi makes up for it. I used to go regularly until about 2003 or so and back then the chefs had better training and you could get excellent sushi on a regular basis. These days it's more about "consistency of preparation" than "art you can eat." —JasonOlshefsky
2008-02-15 18:11:50 I find it a little amusing about how all these people on wiki here have negative reviews, but the sushi bar gets busier and busier. Full sushi bar, tables filled every time I go to the village gate. People wait over an hour for a seat on wednesdays and sundays. The specials are amazing; dollar nigiri, dollar beers, 3 rolls for $12. Still, despite all the negativity the place is still busy all the time. As a regular there I will admit, it does need some renevations and some of the wait staff could use a few pointers, but I have never once gotten sick off the food there and I eat there 3 times a week. The chefs always wear gloves and I see them change their gloves every time they touch something that is not food or their knife. I would urge the owner to spend some cash, get some new decor, and buy some new equipment to make the place look better. —JoeBeef
2008-02-18 16:15:36 Fresh off the rumor mill, California Rollin at the Village Gate may have a major renovation coming this summer.
2008-02-20 09:17:09 I love this place, it's fun to sit at the bar and eavesdrop on the arguments happening between the staff. They tend to hire some questionable people, but they get weeded out pretty quickly. Quality of the rolls tends to waver occasionally but always comes back up to par. The best place to go for non-traditional sushi in Rochester. —AlisonSchaal
2008-02-20 18:06:50 This is the type of place where it's fine as long as you don't get anything too dangerous, so I'd recommend cucumber rolls or smoked eel, but definitely not anything raw. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them for raw fish. —DaveMilitello
I couldn't disagree more. I have eaten at the Village Gate location every saturday for years (and sometimes during the week too) and I order sashimi every time and have never gotten even remotely sick. I have literaly eaten hundreds of pounds of raw fish there. If their raw fish was bad I would know. —JakeBurgholzer
2008-06-02 01:54:05 A second comment from me. My husband doesn't like how they prepare the rice here and often complains that it's dried out, probably from sitting in a giant rice cooker for long. I'm less picky about the texture of my sushi rice (I eat wushi regularly) and it doesn't bother me. Neither of us are usually super thrilled with the knife skills of the chefs and tend to have weirdly cut sashimi here. That being said, I absolutely loved their wacky Carla roll until I learned how to make it myself. The plum and wasabi beer are fun to try and I return regularly just to drink those. This place has free soup on some days and ultra cheap beer specials some days of the week. —MariahBetz
2008-07-08 16:38:05 i've been to california rollin at village gate many times. it's where my love for sushi started. now that i've spent two years in florida for school (where sushi bars are on every corner it seems), i have experienced lots of authentic sushi. now being back in rochester, it's disappointing that cali rollin is the best we've got. i love sushi so much though that i go there anyway... the place is dirty and smelly, and the service is usually terrible, but the sushi is usually decent (i would recommend not ordering anything raw though). i was outraged when i rushed across the City to be there before closing one night (which was listed as 10). i arrived around 9:30, surprised to find no one eating in the restaurant, 3 chefs standing at the bar, one waitress cleaning up. The waitress inside just mouthed the words "we're closed" as i approached the door. I looked at the hours sign on the door, which confirmed the closing time was 10. i just told her they should change the sign and that i would not be back, and, oh yeah, get shrimp sauce! —Joanna108
2008-09-03 11:14:20 I don't even know where to begin with this place. I will simply say that the quality of the food is disturbing. The edamame was brown and slimy. The fish was gross, the rice was mushy. The staff was slow and horrendous. The tables and menus were filthy.
This is not real sushi; anyone that thinks so simply has not had real sushi before. —BethSumner
2008-09-05 17:54:57 I went here for lunch because it was where some business associates wanted to go. Tried to convince them to join me at Shiki but they wouldn't go for it. I have not been here in ages and now I remember why. The restaurant smells funny, a combination of musty and bleach. The service was ok, the food average to below average. The rice in my Chirashi didn't even taste like sushi rice, seemed like just plain white rice. There are so many other better choices for sushi in town, I think Calif. Rollin stays open only because people don't know any better. Try Shiki, Plum House, Piranha or others for much better sushi in better surroundings. (Village Gate location discussed) —DottieHoffmann
2008-09-16 14:17:22 I went here a couple of days ago for the 3 rolls for $12 deal, and I think that was my best experience thus far. They have removed the fish tank in the middle, so it does not smell as it once did, and there is now more space between the tables. The wait wasn't bad and the server was friendly. I think this place is great for fun, nontraditional sushi, and I can't resist the daily deals they have. —MaryaKaszubinski
2009-01-15 15:07:08 Edit: Apparently my review was so "biased" and "typical" that it ruffled some feathers. I admit is was not timely (the last time I was there was last summer), but it was honest. I have no agenda against this establishment, I merely hope that people who have not had the experience of eating sushi in Rochester chose a better establishment (in my opinion). The food has been consistently horrible, the pricing is unreasonable on items made with cheap ingredients and minimal labor (i.e. miso soup for $3.59), the service has been either poor or unknowledgable during my visits and the place smelled like the tanks which have (since my last visit) been removed, which regardless of the timeliness of my review, is still a valid observation, considering that many people do not like to patronize a restaurant where the ownership allows such a situation to persist for years, whether or not it has finally been rectified. The food presentation, at the time, was on abused and dirty-looking wooden boards that appeared to have been run through a dishwasher too many times. If improvements have been made, so be it. Better options still exist. —ErikReinert
2009-01-31 16:23:46 My sister got a plate of sushi from here for our family Christmas party and it was absolutely awful. The rice was crumbly and the fillings were frighteningly tasteless and gooey. Wegmans Sushi is better than this! —BatGuano
2009-02-14 21:16:26 Not such a good place after all. My wife and I have been to California Rollin' three times and they have been inconsistent, at best. The first time, the sushi was ok (but not particularly memorable), but the wait was ridiculous. The second time the sushi was very good, the wait still ridiculous, and the third time the sushi was back to being ok, but the wait was long and the service was pretty bad. The most recent experience involved over an hour wait for a table, more than an hour wait for our food, and little contact with the server in between to update us on our order. More importantly, during our hour wait for the table, our name was mistakenly crossed off, even though the hostess never came around saying my name. Long waits for incompetent service and inconsistent food made us decide to take our business elsewhere. —TedBrasky
2009-03-01 12:11:11 I just want to correct something ErikReinert said about CR smelling like the aquariums. They were removed last summer. It just seems so typical for the anti-CR crowd to come in here and make negative reviews even though they clearly haven't been there in ages. —JakeBurgholzer
2009-03-02 11:45:00 The aquariums may have been removed but this place still smells like chlorine sometimes. Which makes me think it wasn't the aquariums, but the staff cleaning to the place with bleach. Using that much bleach usually means they are trying to cover up something even worse. —BadFish
2009-03-05 20:53:53 My wife went back to California Rollin' the other night and forwarded me her review (unsolicited, for all you hater haters): "Seven of my friends had reservations to California Rollin’ for a 7:30 dinner on Tuesday, 3/3, in honor of my friend's birthday. We were there at 7:30 and were told we needed to wait outside. After waiting 20 minutes I went in to see if we could at least get some drinks. The waitress told me no, because by the time she got our drinks the table would be ready. Alarmed, I went back outside. After waiting another 15 minutes, I went back in again at which point the same waitress gave us drink menus. I mentioned we were there for a birthday dinner and the woman had nothing to say but sharp remarks. She finally took our drink orders and then disappeared for another 10 minutes. When we went in to find out what happened she finally escorted us to a seat- after a 45 minute wait with reservations!
The rolls were decent but I found the appetizers to be way overpriced (miso for over $3?), and the nigiri to be way thinner and smaller than other Rochester sushi restaurants. The moment our big platter of sushi was served (why would they place 7 people's orders on 1 plate? - no one could reach) the waitress asked us if we wanted any desserts because they were closing soon. We were not even finished with our meals and the waitresses started vacuuming and putting the chairs up around us. The servers were not nice, never said anything to my friend whose birthday it was, and did not deserve a tip even though they included the gratuity in the bill. I was really disappointed (almost horrified!) in this restaurant and would not go back again."
2009-05-28 14:24:53 As an avid sushi lover, i must admit that this place was not what i expected at all. i had previously heard mixed reviews, but i always give the benefit of the doubt. well, the staff was inattentive to the point where it was just down right rude. the sushi was made horribly, small pieces and the rolls just fell completely apart! everything else was mediocre at absolute best. this is definitely not a place worthy enough to call itself a "sushi bar." —R
2009-07-19 20:02:17 This place has it's ups and downs, but i still love it and will continue to go here often. I don't go here for traditional sushi, for that, Shiki is the place to go. I do really love California Rollin's wild and innovative combos though. They throw together a wide variety of seemingly incongruous ingredients that more often than not comes out delicious. My favorite way to eat here is to come on Wednesdays for dinner when they have the "all you can eat" sushi special for about $20. You don't pick the rolls, it's chef's choice, and it usually seems to be an ad hoc variety of rolls not listed on the menu. I love this though, as they are invariably delicious.
On the downside, the waitstaff can be a bit inattentive and even brusque at times. I would expect this in a diner, but not when i'm paying more to eat at a decent restaurant. This place is really overdue for a redesign of the interior. When they first opened, it actually looked real nice on the inside, complete with full huge tropical fish tank. Eventually, it was neglected and became an abominable eyesore. Now it's gone, but the place still looks a bit dingy.
In closing, I do love this place and hope it sticks around! It's a great place to go on a date or with friends! —AlexD1234
2009-08-19 14:12:44 I went for the first time about a month ago and I was very disappointed. When we arrived there was a "15 minute" wait, which turned out to be 1 hour 30 minutes, but the people I was with raved about this place so we waited. When we got inside there were approximately 8 free tables and still a significant line outside. The waitress came to our table and literally launched the menus at us, knocking over 2 of the water glasses on our table. We picked them up, assuming she must not having seen the mess she created. Then when she came back 25 minutes later (yes we were keeping track at this point) we ordered. I ordered iced coffee, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura. The waitress then told me "order something else, we don't sell iced coffee" when one of my friends pointed to it on the menu, she just walked away, and there was still one person who hadn't ordered. After 10 minutes of waiting we finally asked another member of the waitstaff to ask her to come back, then she brought out our appitizer (another 15 minutes later) she told us that it would take additional time for the guest who hadn't ordered! WHAT?! Really? We just decided to share whatever food came. So, I was the only person in my party who got what they ordered, everyone else got a haphazard array of random food. However, the shrimp tempura was awful, it was soagy, it smelled, and it taste so bad that I couldn't eat anything else. After we were finally able to get our check the waitress charged me for the iced coffee, she told me they didn't have on the menu. Well, needless to say, I can't wait to go back. I'm kidding, this place sucks, for a week after I went there I tried to think of ways I could put them out of business or make them move to a different town. 2 thumbs down. —meghanoo
2009-12-31 11:42:11 I'm not a big sushi person but even the miso soup was bad. The place is filthy as well. —NewtonNola
2010-01-03 16:20:04 The waitstaff is really rude here. The sushi is also pretty awful... —JohnA
2010-03-25 17:10:02 Its tough to believe that so many people think that this place serves good sushi. For comparison, go to NYC and get sushi anywhere. In fact, get sushi near Times Square. If you do, you will see that you can get sushi in NYC for the same prices that California Rollin charges. On top of that, California Rollin sushi is average, and the service is just plain inexcusable. For value, Sakura Home on Monroe Ave. is better, and the at least the waitresses pretend to care. Taka House in Webster dominates California Rollin. —ScottLaRock
2010-06-14 00:00:43 Went to the one at the ferry terminal/beach and had a great time... it was my first time at either location and my girlfriend and I came here at around 5:30 or so. There were only a few other people in there so there was no wait, but the place filled up as we were leaving so it's definitely popular.
The miso soup was a bit watered down, but the sushi was very good (to me and her at least, we're not sushi experts but still). We got the sushi combo for two thing and it was more than enough, had leftovers. The waitresses were friendly (maybe too friendly, checking up on us every 8 minutes it seemed) and ready with refills and everything. Overall it was a great time and I definitely will be back. —EricJackson
2010-10-17 14:10:19 This place's sushi isn't horrible, but it's not great. It's definitely not the place to go if you want some great traditional sushi. With those lowered expectations, the food is okay.
The service, however, is hit or miss. First, I had to explain sashimi to a server recently. It took about five whole minutes to explain, no, it does not have rice...that's nigiri....no, it is not a roll...that's called maki. When I did get the sashimi, the cuts were horribly done.
The woman who is often there managing is pretty bad. I've served in restaurants before too, but she acts like you needing something is an inconvenience to her. I think if she smiled she may spontaneously combust.
I've ordered takeout from there once and never will again. While I waited, every worker walked by repeatedly ignoring me. When I told that manager I was there to pick up food (that I had already ordered), she told a server to take my order and walked away. When I told the server I called ahead, she told me she was sure it would be coming soon and walked away. I then watched them all look at their new work schedule for about ten minutes.
I only go to this place because a friend of mine likes a couple of the rolls. Otherwise, they would not get my business.
2011-05-19 19:25:48 years ago when i first started going there, they were great, but the village gate location just went downhill... they've made an effort to get better, and they have, somewhat but service is still spotty. the ferry terminal location is quite a bit better tho- i pretty much always go there, even tho village gate is closer. —portia356
2011-05-27 08:55:42 This place has turned into the dumps... so sick of bad business owners. If you don't care for your food and the cleanliness of your restaurant, why are you in business? —JenniferMason
"2011-07-10 19:28:00" Hands down the worst sushi I've ever eaten (far worse than grocery store variety even). The restaurant was dirty (husband compared the carpeting on the floor to the old Millenium if anyone is familiar with that) and the sushi had absolutely no flavor. Our waitress asked us if we wanted wasabi and ginger, which we turned down (being more interested in the taste of the sushi itself than spicy condiments) and she gave us a look like we were crazy. The whole place is just gross. Go to plum garden instead. JenW
2011-08-17 20:21:24 Every time I come into this place it's chaotic. The hostesses gave no communication between them making guests wait longer than they have to. I once came in with a party of 6 and waited over an hour before we figured out they only SAID they were putting us on the list but in reality didn't. This place had no one who knows how to run a restaurant and the only friendly people are the chefs. Watch out for the tattooed hostess she's a bit snotty and thinks she runs the place. Honestly, go to Pirahna on Park ave, spend the extra money for a MUCH better experience. —Angelmh
2011-08-17 20:32:23 I am beyond annoyed with this restaurant and will never return! I work full time as a manager at a downtown restaurant and I think it is deplorable how this place is run! It is not clean and as far as I can tell there is no management here! I have waited for over an hour for a table because they crossed out my name without seating me not once but twice! No one apologized or made any effort to correct it. Then when I sat down my food was wrong, my server was rude and when I asked for more wasabi mayo the server walked away and came back with it 15 min later! The only people who apparently know what they are doing are the cooks, and even that is a struggle! I cannot fathom how this place stays open!! —JessicaK
2011-09-09 02:26:00 Awesome sushi (non-traditional) but generally terrible service. So the sushi isn't straight from Japan but they aren't pretending it is. The rolls are creative and delicious and not at all pretentious. They really know how to use seaweed salad and onion crunchies and even bacon to make a more memorable roll. Don't try the Dinosaur BBQ roll though - that's should be removed from the menu. They will serve you one of them if you get seconds at all-you-can-eat to prevent you from finishing. However, the waitresses (I've never seen any men servring) are generally terrible and the hostess will seat other people ahead of you. Also, don't try to make reservations or get seated if your whole party isn't there. —eklie
2011-09-30 21:21:21 the miso soup was over $3 and came in a tiny cup, but the seafood bisque was free? (probably due to its color which made it look like it had been out awhile) philly rolls came tempura style which is kind of strange. they forgot one of our rolls when everything was brought out. temperature does not seem to be a priority with many of their items. i don't think raw fish is appealing when its wrapped in warm rice. i get the whole "they do sushi their own way" schtick but it really doesn't work for me. sushi has many simple elements that bring it together and i think this place throws some of the basics on the wayside. the webcam thing is kind of cool - it permits me to see how slow and imperfect they are with some of their cuts. the servers were just barely attentive enough. dessert was pretty good. i definitely wouldn't go back. go to shiki on clinton for better staff and better sushi. —IanNorfolk
2011-11-21 16:41:19 This is a review I originally posted on Yelp:
I know that I'll annoy a lot of local 'trendoids' with this review, but I gotta let you all know that this place is about the poorest imitation of sushi I've ever seen. firstly, it's not really a sushi bar, but more of a place that does non-traditional California-style rolls which appeal to American tastes, so if you're looking for anything traditional here, forget it!
That said, my real problem with this place is the lack of cleanliness and lousy quality of fish they use, as well as the poor preparation. Both locations have rickety, beaten-down seats and tables, both have service that goes from slow to glacial and surly, and I've had more uneven slices and questionable cuts of fish served there than at any other place in town. I actually used to like this place, but the last 3 times I went there, things had gone downhill. Add to that the fact that the place looks like it hasn't been cleaned or painted in a decade, and that all the serving pieces look like they've been through a rock tumbler.....
Seriously, anything these guys make is done better (for about the same price) by anybody else locally, in a cleaner environment, and with staff that know how to serve you.
2011-12-27 18:18:36 I like to think of California rollin as the mcdonalds of sushi. Its not real sushi but some ppl seem to really enjoy it. And while they can get creative with the rolls it is not real sushi but if that is what you are into thats cool. However I hve other real problems with this place. One it seems to often have a odd smell 2 the service is TERRIBLE. I am not exagerrating. My fiance and I went here on christmas eve and we were one of two other tables and the other two tables already had their food and we waited a half hour after ordering to get our food! The chef was too busy hitting on two girls at the bar than serving paying customers. what a freaking joke. on top of that the waitresses are never too friendly and while its not their fault there is usually a long wait that i wouldnt mind if the food was great but its not. The only reason we go here is because of groupon deals and after our experience this past weekend we are not ever going here again! This is in regards to the goodman location. we used to go to the charlotte location when i lived down there and the service and quality were so much better. —jillco
2012-03-21 19:04:46 We went to the port of Rochester location and ordered $45 worth of food including a coupon for a free menu item with the purchase of a menu item of equal or greater value. One roll was $12.95, another was $9.35, the rest were in the 6-7 dollar range. When the check came, the coupon was applied to the least expensive roll. When we politely asked about it, the waitress said that that is how the computer rings it up. When we pointed out that that is not what the coupon says, it does not say the least expensive roll, she went to get the owner. The owner himself tried to explain that that is how the computer does it. I asked him if we had purchased only the $12.95 roll and the $9.35 roll, wouldn't we have gotten the $9.35 roll for free? He said yes, but again said that the computer rings up the cheapest roll. I asked if he was the owner, to confirm, and he was, but he refused to change the bill. We even read the coupon together, he refused to honor it the way it was written. —JR
2012-03-27 18:35:18 I'm sorry... I just don't think this place is very good considering the alternatives available. The service is usually slow and the sushi just isn't very good. :-( —jonramz
2012-03-31 19:45:57 Not a Sushi expert so I can't really compare to others. But we had a good time while seated at the prep bar. The chef was more than happy to answer any questions we had and even took a couple of orders from us rather us having to wait for our server. Were happy with all of out rolls and am sure we will return. —almorinelli
2013-01-16 22:31:30 The food at California Rollin is generic, but this review is about their VERY bad service. I visited on a Wednesday which is when they have their all you can eat special. I also came with the intent of using a Groupon I purchased, but on a la carte items and not the all you can eat special. I wanted to use the Groupon towards rolls for myself and my husband wanted to order the all you can eat special.
The waitress told us after we filled out our order form that we could not use the Groupon even though I was not ordering all you can eat because they can't do separate transactions per table (I wonder how they split checks). We then asked if we could sit at the bar so I could use the Groupon I purchased for myself and have my husband pay for his own meal. The waitress (who also happened to be the owner?) was very rude and threatened to cancel our order, saying, "Do I have to stop your orders? I don't want to argue with you, the bar is full, but you can wait another 45 minutes to be re-seated at the bar."
Needless to say, we left without eating and will never return. —KimberlyLumba
2013-05-25 20:00:51 5 years ago I would've given California Rollin' a perfect 5 stars, but the last three times I've gone I've been disappointed. The quality of the fish has definitely decreased tremendously. The last two times I've ordered I received my food warm and moist. Gross. I only go in the afternoons now because late night service is terrible. The best part about my meal last time was the miso soup. I think I'm going to start looking for alternatives in the Rochester sushi department. —sub619
2013-05-31 16:33:00 Ok, so I finally registered at this website. I've been using it quite often to get an idea of what's going on in Rochester and especially to check what people write about restaurants I was planning to visit. It always takes a really bad experience for me to register and finally start contributing and today, after more than a year in Rochester, it finally happened. We went to the California Rollin' restaurant in Brooks Landing. My initial plan was to try their sushi but when I saw the menu I decided that this would be a bad idea. The combinations they offered didn't sound anything like sushi (e.g. bacon), they even have a sushi garbage plate. Also, the sushi is pretty expensive, the prices are $10 or more for a roll. I ordered a burger, because I thought there's not a lot that can go wrong and I would have sushi later at another place. The burger was mediocre but the fries were really bad. They were all soggy and soft, they actually tasted like microwaved fries from earlies this week. I don't understand why you would serve such bad fries, even as a child I was able to make fries at home, it is really not that hard.
And then there's the service. Or actually I wouldn't call it service. They were not able to get all our foods out at the same time (we were there with a party of 3), one of us had to wait until the two of us were almost done. The next time we saw the waiter we were asked if we wanted a split bill and we told him that this is what we wanted. The waiter left our table and wasn't seen for another 20 minutes. Actually, we were able to see him, but he wasn't getting our check. And he wasn't that busy, there were two waiters and only two other tables with a total of two guests. We finally caught the attention of the other waitress and she told him to get our check.
Bottom line: Worst restaurant experience in Rochester so far. Stay away. Bad service and bad food. We won't come back. —rippach
2013-07-08 16:53:43 I bought a Groupon and read the fine print carefully before I went. It says "...[other irrelevant things]...Not valid with other offers." I assumed this meant that I couldn't use the groupon with other coupons, but that I'd be able to order anything off the menu. However, it turns out that they don't let you use it even with their daily specials like the 3 rolls for $12 night. Just wanted to post this so others don't make the same mistake I did, since to me it wasn't completely clear. —Lnyxa
2013-12-18 22:01:28 "Poochie's dead!" The Brooks Landing location (finally) closed. I have no idea how one place thought such an extensive menu could have been done well. We now have the answer. Food, service, prices, nothing was executed well. Next! —URalum
2017-04-30 18:34:47 California Rollin at the Village Gate is separate from California Rollin II at Charlotte and Park Ave. They're owned and operated separately and have different websites. —elvo86
2017-08-14 21:48:51 Park Ave location appears to be closed, need to confirm —DottieHoffmann
2019-10-17 15:16:17 As of 10/17/19, the Village Gate location is "closed indefinitely." https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2019/10/17/california-rollin-village-gate-sushi-restaurants-rochester-ny/4008232002/ —JeremiahParry-Hill
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