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The Orion

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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Big Tuna Sushi Bistro: Flavor, tradition, innovation

Experience traditional Japanese food with a modern twist at Chico’s Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
Photo taken inside of the Bistro. Photo courtesy of Luis P.

Big Tuna Sushi Bistro delights customers with its fresh, expertly crafted sushi and vibrant atmosphere. It offers a culinary journey through Japanese flavors.

Big Tuna Sushi Bistro was opened in 2009 by Masa and Reiko Watanabe. It’s located near Mountain Mike’s Pizza, at 1722 Mangrove Ave. Suite 18, Chico, CA 95926. It appears plain from the outside, but you are in for a surprise when you actually walk in.

Their hours are Monday-Thursday: 4-10 p.m.; Friday 4-11 p.m.; Saturday 3-11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Upon entering, we were welcomed by a hostess with a positive attitude and a big smile who showed us to our table for two. I also noticed the glam front of house with string beads hung from the ceiling.

The table was round and small but it was intimate. The atmosphere was very inviting, but also laid back: The lights were muted, and the space was quite cozy, all expected for a bistro. It would be great for a date or just for hanging out with friends or family, definitely nothing too formal.

Decorated with Japanese-style posters of Kabuki performers, Kanji and fishing accessories, it is clear right away that it is a sushi restaurant. Two glittery tuna decorations watch over customers with one eye while they enjoy the food.

Our waiter promptly brought us two glasses of water with a generous amount of ice, as requested. I am very particular about the temperature of the water and this one was right.

Initially, we ordered the Miso soup for $2.50. Our only issue was it was too salty; the Dashi stock was overpowering for both sets of taste buds. What we liked about the soup was that the tofu was soft but also well-cooked, and we both agreed that we had a good amount of seaweed in the soup.

I enjoyed the chives, which were crunchy and fresh. The bowls that the soup was presented in were brown and dainty. I enjoyed this small detail, and I love Asian spoons; their shape makes them user-friendly.


The Miso Soup as sold at Big Tuna Sushi Bistro. Photo taken by Fabian Marian on February 25.

Secondly, I ordered a Nigiri plate  for $18.50, my usual order at every sushi place. The portions were right, meaning it was more than enough. I can say that I am particular about the raw fish I eat.

The Nigiri plate and California rolls and a Crunchy Roll as sold at Big Tuna Sushi Bistro. Taken by Fabian Marian on Feb. 25.
(Fabian Marian)

The Nigiri plate included two pieces each of tuna, salmon and yellowtail, gari pickled ginger and a generous ball of wasabi, all nicely plated. The fish was fresh, which is something I appreciated.  I enjoyed the thickness of the slices the fish was cut into — usually, they are too thick or too thin but this one was just right.

I ended up dipping it into soy sauce, spicy mayonnaise and the Big Tuna habanero hot sauce. Overall, I only liked the soy sauce, it was good quality, but the spicy mayonnaise was too oily; it reminded me of a Romanian dish called “Boeuf Salad,” which is a mayo-based salad with vegetables and chicken.

Their popular Big Tuna habanero hot sauce which sells for $8 on their website, was a total letdown. It had a very weird grainy texture and, to my taste buds, had no spice to it, defeating the whole point of a spicy sauce. I would not recommend the sauce if you actually like hot sauce.

Last but not least, My friend ended up ordering California Rolls for $7.00, requesting that the avocado be replaced with cucumber because she is not a fan of avocados, and a Crunchy Roll for $14.25, which included shrimp tempura, crab mix, cream cheese, tempura flakes, unagi sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise.

The best thing about Big Tuna is that you can customize your rolls and choose your own ingredients.

I ended up trying some of her food too, but we both complained about the excessive amount of Kewpie mayonnaise and unagi sauce, which ruined the balance of the whole dish, making it way too oily and containing too much fat to be enjoyable.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Big Tuna and encourage everyone who is a sushi fanatic to check it out. You can also get Japanese rice wine called Sake for those who are +21 years old.

Fabian Gilea can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Fabian Marian
Fabian Marian, Reporter
Fabian Marian is a first year journalism and public and relations student at Chico State. This is his first semester on The Orion and he is very thrilled to be a part of the team. In his free time he enjoys reading, listening to music and watching video essays.

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