Posts tagged ‘Sushi’

Drunken Fish

I’ve been less than impressed with the quality of restaurants in the Power & Light District, so when I tried Drunken Fish I kept my expectations in check. It’s not exactly a chain: there are three restaurants in St. Louis by the same name, and this is their first foray outside of the city. It occupies the space previously occupied by Bice–in fact, they haven’t even replaced all of the awnings yet. If recollection serves me correctly, even the furniture is the same, but don’t quote me on that.

The menu is quite large, not the typical sushi restaurant in that it has substantial entrees in addition to the raw fish component. And I’m not talking just teriyaki–pork chop, tuna, Chilean sea bass and even lobster tail are options for the non-raw eater.

There are of course the ubiquitous makimono rolls, some typical, some intriguing. But what sets this restaurant apart from all the others are the appetizers listed on the menu under “new  style sashimi”.  Sizzling Snapper comes to the table on a lovely long oval plate, already dressed with sesame seeds, ginger, garlic and yuzu-soy. The server then pours hot olive oil all over the thin slices of fish. The oil cooks the fish a tad, and combines with the other ingredients to form a dressing of sorts. The Yellowtail Mexicano features sashimi with a jalapeno pico de gallo and ponzu sauce, a bit of heat to marry with the umami taste.

In another twist, instead of standard tuna poke or tartare, tuna sashimi was mounded atop a cucumber slice, and topped with wasabi mayo, scallions, tobiko and eel sauce. Not a dainty bite to be sure, but worth figuring out how to get it in your mouth.

We also tried a noodle dish, udon with vegetables, customized to satisfy our need for spice. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the sauce was just right. Not too sweet, not too salty.

The sushi rolls were standard, though they all had creative names. The portions were skimpy relative to the price tag.

Once this restaurant is on everyone’s radar, it will probably draw the typical P&L clientele. They’ll undoubtedly appreciate the vast and inventive cocktail list. I’ll stick to Japanese beer, but I think this is a welcome addition food-wise to the uninspired selection of restaurants in the entertainment district.

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March 27, 2011 at 8:11 pm Leave a comment

Matsuhisa Aspen

Nobu Matsuhisa has made a name for himself with a slew of sushi restaurants dotted around the world. One of his newest endeavors is in an historic Victorian house in Aspen. Its quaint exterior belies the size of the restaurant, made possible by a clever digging way down into the earth to create the reservations-only main dining room.

Though it happens to be the hippest venue in town, Matsuhisa has culinary credentials to match. The menu has cooked specialities as well as sushi, and you’ll be well rewarded if you put yourself in the hands of the accomplished servers (or go with a friend who is a frequent patron, as we were lucky to do).

We started with shishito peppers, which can be spicy but are usually low on the Scoville heat scale. I’ve found these on the RA Sushi menu in Kansas City, but they are not readily available at most sushi restaurants. They don’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s a more interesting starter than the basic edamame.

Crispy Rock Shrimp with spicy sauce came out next, and we all attacked the bowl with our chopsticks before moving onto yellowtail jalapeno, beautifully fanned slices of fish and thin slices of jalapeno with a ponzu sauce, and cucumber salads with crab. The latter two dishes were light and refreshing, a stark contrast to the rich Italian dinner we still digesting from the night before.

Then came the sushi, a beautiful platter of spicy tuna rolls with crispy rice, lobster rolls, shrimp tempura rolls and a caterpillar rolls, made all the more tasty by the addition of real wasabi root.

We topped off the meal with banana “egg rolls”and mochi balls, homemade ice cream enveloped in mochi rice wrappers. It’s an acquired taste, but these were better than others I’ve had.

If you didn’t plan in advance and can’t  get a reservation, the upstairs (which is street level) has a limited menu but is open to walk-in traffic. And the outside patio draws the crowds during warmer weather. However you make it happen, this belongs on any food lover’s must-try list.

Matsuhisa on Urbanspoon

March 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Edokko Japanese Restaurant

I had heard wonderful things about Edokko in Lenexa and decided it was time to give it a try.

Walking in, I was immediately struck by the serene nature of the restaurant. An attractive sushi bar is the focal point, with booths and tables circling it on two levels. It’s dark, you can hear water trickling in soothing fashion and the service is soft and unobtrusive.

There are no hibachi tables or showmen juggling their knives and aiming shrimp at your mouth, though you can get hibachi style shrimp and steak dinners if you choose. However, I was there for the sushi and noodles, both of which are well-executed. The soba noodles were stir fried with vegetables and noodles and had a pleasant, light flavor.

Sushi is clearly the star of the show here, and there is a notebook with pictures of each maki roll that the chef makes. Considering that the list of rolls is so long, it helps to have a corresponding picture to help diners make a decision. I had the special tuna roll, with tuna and avocado inside and spicy tuna and tempura flakes on top. The tuna was excellent, though the flakes  masked the other ingredients. I also order a handrolled spider roll with softshell crab and rice rolled up in nori. Visually attractive and so easy to eat–no chopsticks necessary– like picking up and dipping an egg roll in sauce.

The list of appetizers is also impressive, from baked mussels and crab cakes to vegetable tempura and steamed dumplings. Teriyaki is also on the menu for those who can’t stomach sushi or sashimi.

For those of us who live in midtown, it’s quite a trek. But if you’re in the neighborhood of I-35 and 87th Street, it’s a lovely oasis in a busy part of town.

Edokko Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

March 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Kaiyo Sushi Restaurant

Tired of steak and potatoes? In a winter rut?  Kaiyo, at 119th and Roe, may be located in a non-descript Johnson County strip center, but its food is anything but dull. With fresh and inventive fare and a light, contemporary dining room, owner and chef David Loo, formerly of Sushi House, and wife Karen have created a lovely refuge from the congestion at that intersection. They are warm and hospitable hosts, who will treat you as though you are guests in their home.

Loo’s signature item is the Hot Temptation Roll, but there are plenty of intriguing options on the long and descriptive list of Makimono (rolls). During my latest visit, I tried the Fire Roll and the Cherry Blossom, two newer additions to David’s vast repetoire. Though they may not have dethroned my favorite Caterpillar and Spider Rolls, each was as gorgeous to look at as they were to devour.

David is a busy man. He commutes between his restaurant and Cosentino’s downtown market, where he has a very visible sushi bar, smack in the middle of the store. Patrons can grab a carry-out box to go or eat in. Though the selection is smaller than at the Leawood restaurant, the quality is every bit as exemplary.

Classic Japanese favorites are also offered to satisfy the more squeamish palates, so whether you are a seasoned sushi eater or a novice, put down that T-bone and venture out to Kaiyo for a livelier (and healthier!) meal.

Kaiyo on Urbanspoon

January 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

As we walked into Cafe Beautiful, my son and I were immediately captivated by the serene tableau that lay before us. Two tables were carefully set, scented candles filled the air, the lighting was low, and Frank Sinatra crooned in the background. The living room of the chef/owner’s apartment, on the second floor of a non-descript building on Massachusetts Ave in Lawrence, was the unlikely setting for a memorable and relaxing evening.

Chef Ken Suken is a delight. He is committed to ensuring his guests are happy–he’s the host of a very intimate party and we were the only guests.  One table at a time allows him to focus all of his attention on cooking, serving…and washing dishes.  And, while the other table in the room was booked with a later reservation, Chef Suken assured us that we should feel free to linger as our table was reserved for us the entire evening.

We settled in with the wine we had brought, leaned back in our comfortable chairs, and prepared to be dazzled. Which we were, right from the get-go. From the first course to the eighth and last, the production was unlike anything either of us had ever experienced. This is one talented man.

Each course was well-timed and came with a complete and poetic description of what was on the plate. I expected the food to be good, but I was unprepared for the depth and texture of flavors, and picture-perfect presentation. Though I took a picture of all the courses,  they simply did not adequately depict the care and pride that Chef Suken showered us with throughout the evening.

The pictures below have captions that describe each dish. (For some reason, I am missing the 5th course, which was king salmon with an asian pear reduction sauce, paired with king crab salad and mustard sauce.) We finished with a sweet pomegranate tea.

miso soup with seafood, vegetables-Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

Miso Soup with seafood, tofu and vegetables


fruit salad with ginger dressing-Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

Fruit salad with ginger dressing


custard with shrimp

egg custard with shrimp baked in a baby pumpkin


Seafood salad with butterflied shrimp and seared white tuna topped with wasabi vinaigrette

Seafood salad with butterflied shrimp and seared white tuna, topped with wasabi vinaigrette


Red snapper with a citrus soy sauce in an ice "bowl"

red snapper sashimi with a citrus soy sauce served in an "ice bowl"


Eel in eel sauce, with vegetable sushi

Eel with eel sauce, and vegetable sushi

This is an ideal place to go with a close friend or family member with whom you enjoy spending time. There are no distractions–it’s just you and your companion(s) for more than two hours, so pick wisely! You will leave happy, relaxed and satisfied.

Be sure to call ahead. Since Cafe Beautiful only seats eight, it’s reservations only, no walk-ins.

Cafe Beautiful on Urbanspoon

November 30, 2009 at 10:00 am 3 comments

Wa Sushi in Lawrence

Surprising as it may be, you can get good sushi in the middle of Kansas. Though landlocked, Lawrence does have a couple of fine sushi spots. I recently went to Wa Sushi for the second time. The laid back atmosphere was in keeping with its location in a college town, and our server was very competent and knowledgeable about the very extensive menu. We started with an excellent squid and seaweed salad, a novelty since one usually sees a squid salad or a seaweed salad, but not a combination of the two. The textures and flavors complemented each other perfectly.IMG_0342

My husband had a spicy ramen noodle soup that he reluctantly shared, and we tried several specialitiesIMG_0344 of the house, including a tuna “sandwich”– rice, spicy tuna and squares of nori, layered and then cut into triangles. It should appeal to those who are chopstick challenged, as it is best eaten with your fingers. We also enjoyed a caterpillar roll with eel and avocado and a crabby dragon roll with softshell crab.

Though this  may not have been the best sushi I’ve ever had, it was reasonably priced and very satisfying. The offerings included many  specialty sushi rolls that I’ve not seen on other menus. That originality, along with the extremely friendly service may be one reason why it’s been a mainstay on Massachusetts St. for many years.IMG_0347

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September 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

RA Sushi

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Sushi restaurants seem to fall into one of two camps. There is the pulsing, high energy type in Kona Grill’s mold, and those that are serene and peaceful, like Kaiyo, at 119th and Roe. RA Sushi is clearly one of the former, trying to appeal to those interested in a serious nightlife scene.

RA Sushi (pronounced RAH) is adjacent to the soon to open ALoft Hotel, owned by W hotels,  in Leawood’s new Park Place development. And it’s across the way from Sushi House, another chain,  and locally-owned Kaiyo. RA’s Leawood location is its 25th, and first in the bi-state area.

I recently went to RA for lunch. It’s moderately loud during the day, but I understand they crank up the music in the evening to the point that conversation can be difficult. It’s an attractive, sensual restaurant, with interesting red and black accessories, in a very contemporary setting.

I thought the sushi was quite good, especially the caterpillar roll, though it didn’t strike me as being superior to any other sushi restaurant about town. But it did have an unique sushi rice bowl that tasted as heavenly as it looked. The Bara Charashi Bowl (combo #11) was different than anything I have ever seen offered at a sushi restaurant. Chunks of yellowtail, spicy tuna, salmon, shrimp, avocado, cucumber and Asian green vegetables were atop a bed of rice sitting in a deep bowl. The texture was smooth and silky, and I loved the combination of flavors in every bite. I like to try new dishes every time I go to a new restaurant or an old favorite, but it will be hard not to order that again…and again.IMG_0291IMG_0294

A big selling point of RA Sushi will undoubtedly be its Happy Hour, with half-priced sushi and appetizers, and drink specials from 3:00-7:00 P.M. EVERY day except Sunday. How often do you see a restaurant offer deals on a Saturday, or through much of the dinner hour?? And this is not just an opening ploy–all of their restaurants around the country feature the same early-bird menu.

I suspect RA Sushi will be a hit with the late-night singles crowd and early-to-bedders who love a good deal. Either way, it’s going to provide some serious competition for its neighbors. I sincerely hope it doesn’t put too much of a dent in Kaiyo’s business, but these big-box chains certainly make it hard for the independent little guy.

RA Sushi on Urbanspoon

August 23, 2009 at 4:19 am 2 comments


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