11611 Rancho Bernardo Road, Rancho Bernardo
When I heard a new sushi spot had opened up in Rancho Bernardo, I figured I might check it out, someday, if I happened to be in the neighborhood. Then I heard Big Bang! Sushi offers an all-you-can-eat deal. For lunch you pay about $21 to get your fill. Dinner and weekends, $26. Within ten minutes I had plans to eat there the following day with a couple of friends.
When it comes to sushi, my friends and I are what you might call competitive all-you-can-eaters. It started six years ago when we discovered a similar deal at Nozomi Sushi on Convoy. We’d show up, order the special, and start gorging. By the end of a two-hour session, “all you can eat” had turned into “more than a person should ever eat in one sitting.” We did this often enough — once every two or three months — that Nozomi stopped offering the deal. I’m sure a lot of factors contributed to their decision, but I like to think there are photos of us on the wall to serve as a reminder of the damage the three of us can do.
Yes, this sort of sushi special gives you the chance to try every kind of fish your heart craves, but that’s not entirely why we started making a sport of it. That came about due to a kink in the fine print of the Nozomi offer, which we found repeated in the Big Bang special: You have to pay for leftovers. Anything you can’t eat at the end of your meal gets tacked onto the bill. Even rice.
Obviously, this is meant to protect the restaurant from customers who would order everything on the menu, then give up once full, leaving a lot of pricey raw fish uneaten on the table. Early on, we were considerate. Maybe we shouldn’t order that 9-piece rainbow roll because the 18 pieces of nigiri we already ordered might fill us up, especially following our 4 appetizers and 12 hand rolls.
Then we noticed what happened when there were remainder pieces of fish to account for. Say the three of us had ordered a 4-piece salmon and avocado roll. Who eats the fourth piece? In the first round of eating that extra piece is coveted — everybody wants it. But things change once everybody’s full. And I’m talking very full. Filled to the top of your esophagus full, when swallowing even a single piece of raw fish can topple your entire sense of being. That’s when it gets interesting. And that’s where a trio of loving friends turns sadistic and actually takes pleasure in seeing his fellow man suffer.
Big Bang! Sushi never saw us coming, but they accommodated our twisted game with uncommon grace. Every server smiled and engaged us, however dismayed they may have been with what was going down. A full section of their menu features nice cuts of nigiri — salmon belly, hamachi belly, sea urchin, and halibut — in addition to escolar, albacore, seared tuna, and regular hamachi and salmon. Naturally, we ordered them all, failing to realize they were served by the pair. Right off the bat, we ordered twice as much as we wanted.
Then, before it all arrived — last call for the all you-can-eat lunch hit. We wanted more time, but with our server standing at the table ready to close the order, my friends quickly debated which rolls we should try. Chef Special or the similar Geisha? Salmon Avocado or Marine Boy? Rainbow or Sunshine? “Uh, guys,” I said. “The waiter’s writing down everything you say.”
In the end three of us ate 60 pieces of nigiri, 6 rolls, and 11 appetizers including salmon tartare and BBQ spare ribs — an amount of food both inhuman and inhumane. All of the fish was good quality — nothing transcendent but better than average and terrific until those last few bites, when my friends and I stared at each other across the table, debating who should tackle the extra-large end piece of the last remaining roll.
Thanks Big Bang!, it was truly a blast. I like to think we learned something, but I have a feeling the only wisdom we came away with was this: “Skip the spare ribs. They’re just filler.”