Coach can be found at 532 Grand Avenue in Oakland along an increasingly nice strip of shops and restaurants around the lake. Between the few strikingly crazed homeless folks and odd smell wafting from special parts of the lake, this area is extremely nice. And it’s nice enough currently to draw joggers, dog walkers and a plethora of normal people to make a visit wholly worthwhile and enjoyable. After a loop around the lake, our double-dating group settled on Coach Sushi for dinner, to which none of us had previously been.
I hate to steal the exact ratings from the sushi post just before this, but Coach happened to strike the same reaction from me as Hayward Japan Grill did. Which was not great. The odd thing was that Coach was packed with people on this Sunday evening at dusk, and I’ve heard from a friend since that he’s a big fan of Coach. Maybe we just hit it on a bad night. Either way, we didn’t have a great experience except for the company.
This place is small and cozy as so many sushi places are. The menu was a conglomerate mess of choices with an organizational process that would confuse a schizophrenic. That is to say, the visual layout was terrible and the sections were scattered and placed in no discernible order, which made it very hard to wrap my mind around exactly what my choices were for dinner. I finally just gave up, stopped on the page I was on and chose something. I’m not sure if everyone else was annoyed by this as much as I was (I’m particularly sensitive to a terribly packaged menu), but I found it heinous.
Having said that, the choices, if you could sort through them, appeared highly varied and often creative. What scared me a bit, however, was when I ordered my salmon sashimi donburi and basically had to spell it out for the waitress because she said she’s never had anyone order that. Great.
The food was decent but not fabulous. At our table there was a sashimi dinner, a carrot-avocado roll and a spicy tuna roll in addition to my donburi. All were reported to be acceptable but nothing special. We did not appreciate that they did not come out even near the same time, which makes eating in a group a bit of a challenge when you’re not sharing food.
The sashimi was not a whole lot for the price as compared to some other restaurants and was of mediocre quality. The carrot-avocado roll was a combination our fully-vegetarian friend had not seen before and was excited about. The tuna roll was decent. My donburi was actually quite good: a generous amount of raw salmon and assorted pickled veggies over rice. I found it quite enjoyable.
Also, the miso soup was good and the chop sticks were the nice kind which makes any Japanese meal more enjoyable.
The service was the worst part, however. Not only did we not receive water refills but once in about 2 hours, two of four of us found bits of ants in the water. Extra protein, sure, but we were neither grateful nor amused. I’m not a freak-out-when-something-is-out-of-place-with-my-food sort of person*, so I actually just kept drinking. Don’t judge me.
They have a special sake drink that comes in a small bamboo box and which I think is all-you-can-drink for a fixed price. My friend ordered this, but it never came. Fortunately the waitress realized this later, apologized and asked if she still wanted the drink (she said no thanks) and it wasn’t on the bill. Still, not impressing us at all with the attention to detail.
And finally, it took about a half hour for someone to bring us our bill, which was ok since we were chatting together as friends do, but this was the clincher on my feeling of terrible service at this place. Maybe it was a bad night, maybe we had a careless waitress, maybe she misinterpreted our conversation for a desire not to have the bill delivered, who knows. We didn’t have a great experience and (I’ll say it again) there are too many great sushi places to waste time on poor ones.
*I am, however, a complain-about-it-on-the-internet person, as so many of us are nowadays, so take that.