Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rate-A-Restaurant, #167 in a series

Restaurant: Samurai Sams

Location: 5757 Wilshire (Mid-Wilshire)

Type of restaurant: Asian/Fast Food

They stipulated: The fast casual restaurant gives two ways to order: Specific entrees/bowls, or made-to-order bowls similar to the assembly line setup of sandwich shops or Chipotle. Choose your rice/noodle, your veggie, your meat (or fish/shrimp) and your sauce.

We stipulated: The portion of Mid-Wilshire home to Variety, E! and others has long been a vast wasteland of lunchtime eateries. Bored of Koo Koo Roo, Baja Fresh and Johnnie's -- and grossed out by Marie Callenders (and turned off by Organic to Go's overpriced entrees), we cheer any new addition to the lineup across the street.

What we ordered: I got the a bowl with brown rice, mixed veggies, salmon and lemon pepper sauce ($6.99).

High point: Price is decent, especially when compared to what you get at Koo Koo Roo or Baja Fresh. The sample I ate at the sushi station was also nice. And even though the line was far outside the door when we got there (told you the 'hood was starved for new choices), it moved very fast.

Low point: Given the big build up and the breathless promotional copy, I was expecting more from Samurai Sam's. But the food itself was just OK, and on par with a bowl from Koo Koo Roo or other fast casual spots. I guess that's servicable enough... but I was hoping for more than servicable.

Overall impression: It's nice to have another lunch time alternative in the neighborhood -- and now I have a spot that will always be that fallback choice when there's nothing to eat and I haven't brought my lunch. But if I didn't work across the street, I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to find a Samurai Sam's location.

Chance we will go back: I'm sure the novelty will wear off fairly fast, but for now I'm sure I'll wind up there every once in a while.

For a complete list of our nearly 170 restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.

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