“Out of COVID, we made sushi.”
That’s how Elisa Tauber describes the way she and her business partner, Alicia Kramer, turned their personal challenges during the pandemic into Sushi525, a pop-up sushi restaurant in Tahoma, on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.
Last winter, Tauber lost her job as a server when Graham’s restaurant, an Olympic Valley institution, shut down during the height of the pandemic. Kramer’s aesthetics business also shuttered because of coronavirus. The women, neighbors in Tahoma, walked their dogs together. They asked each other: What do we do now?
The answer was Sushi525, which they opened in a gelato shop (closed during the winter) in the Mariani Plaza, 7000 West Lake Blvd., at Pine Street in Tahoma.
The entrepreneurial spirit, it turned out, tasted like seasoned rice and hamachi, tobiko and teriyaki.
Through the Dutch door
Sushi525 has returned for the 2021-2022 winter season, with the pop-up again serving a stretch of the West Shore that doesn’t have many food options.
Sushi525 is open for pick-up from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Folks call or text 530-525-2217 to place orders (advance ordering encouraged). Fish and seafood are sourced from Sierra Gold Seafood in Sparks, and sushi and other dishes are prepared to order.
“Everything is to go. We pass it through a Dutch door,” Kramer said, referring to a door split in the middle. The approach feels especially right for these distanced (and variant) times.
What’s on the menu
Kramer has serious raw cred.
She rolled sushi at the old Mamasake, the Olympic Valley restaurant among the first new-style sushi places at Tahoe. (Folks still talk about signature Mama’s balls: fried sushi orbs served on a snowboard.) Kramer also had been running a Thursday night sushi happy hour for about a decade at Crest Café in Alpine Meadows.
Highlights from the Sushi525 menu include a four-piece nigiri sampler; inari tofu skin pockets stuffed with seasoned rice and vegetables or kani kama imitation crab; a Spider Beach bowl built from rice, protein (tofu, chicken or fish), garnishes and choice of sauce; and long rolls like a kicky 8th Ave. featuring spicy ahi, spicy pepper mix and hot sesame oil.
The names of many menu items pay homage to West Shore places and landmarks. The name of the restaurant nods locally, too: 525 is the longtime exchange for land-lines in the Tahoma area.
Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or on Facebook personally or at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter highlighting our most recent stories.