From prison to restaurateur, East LA native brings crazy fusions with El Sushi Loco

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Friday, September 29, 2023
East LA chef creates crazy fusion rolls at El Sushi Loco
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El Sushi Loco started in 2010 with a cart, which Frank Mendoza purchased for $1,500 - his entire life savings. Now he has locations in La Puente, Downey and Pomona.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Bienvenido a El Sushi Loco.

"It's a combination where East meets West. It was like fusion. Like the stuff you find on a taco truck, that's what you find on our sushi," said chef and operator of El Sushi Loco, Frank Mendoza.

Here in Pomona, Mendoza and his team are serving Mexican-style sushi. They offer your traditional raw sushi rolls, but here you'll want to try the house specialties, like the "Tocino Roll," meaning bacon in Spanish. It includes rice, shrimp, cream cheese, avocado rolled up and wrapped in bacon.

A drizzle of special house made sauces, some grilled onions, and a yellow chili pepper completes the dish. The sushi is special, no doubt.

It is Mendoza's own story that's shaped El Sushi Loco into the restaurant it is today.

"When I was in prison I had lost it all. I was broke. I got 11 years in prison, rightfully so. Rightfully so. And I had time to think, what am I going to do with my life?" he said.

After serving time for a drug conviction, Mendoza went to work with his nephew making sushi in Mexico.

He decided he wanted to create a new sushi concept back in his home of East Los Angeles.

"I went onto Craigslist and I found this cart, it looked like a hot dog cart," he said.

It all started in 2010 with the cart, which he purchased for $1,500, his entire life savings.

Mendoza sold his sushi on sidewalks across La Puente.

"We started to mix carne asada, filet, chicken and shrimp marinated with even our soy sauce," he said.

From prison to proud owner of three El Sushi Loco locations, Mendoza hopes to inspire his kids and anyone going through a tough time, to not give up on themselves.

"The American dream is alive and well. Today 2023, it is alive and it is well. You just have to go get it," he said.

Mendoza aspires to become a Michelin Star chef from East L.A.

You can find El Sushi Loco in La Puente, Downey and Pomona.

Thank you Cheryl for the submission. To submit your favorite restaurant for On The Menu, click here.