The Wasabi Sushi sign is prominent almost as soon as you turn off the highway onto Garnet Avenue. What the sign doesn’t convey, however, is the quality that awaits you inside. Sit at the 17-seat sushi bar, in the recently renovated dining room, or on the serene outdoor patio, and treat yourself to some of the tastiest sushi around. The mostly traditional sushi menu offers over 40 rolls, plus an array of nigiri and sashimi. Try the sushi and sashimi combos for sampling, or try to select just a few of the special rolls—each one is more tempting than the last. The house specialty is the Wasabi Special Roll, featuring lobster, avocado, and shrimp tempura topped with albacore, green onion, masago and ponzu sauce. But no matter what you order, the fish is fresh, the prices are reasonable and, the staff friendly and accommodating.Read More ...
One of the most satisfying things a savvy diner can do is discover a phenomenal restaurant in the midst of an otherwise unremarkable location. Wasabi Sushi is an outstanding find. Located on a particularly unexciting stretch of Garnet Avenue—across from a Jiffy Lube and a Weinerschnitzel—Wasabi Sushi doesn't look like much from the outside. Yet a surprisingly full parking lot is a tip off to the satisfaction that awaits inside.
Wasabi Sushi's interior defies its surroundings. The space is cool and minimalist-modern, with sea-green walls, polished wood floors, and a handful of live plants and Japanese artwork. Simple and serene, it is a welcome respite from the traffic outside. Guests have their choice of three dining spaces: a formal dining room, a casual outdoor patio, or an energetic sushi bar with adjacent table seating. The space fills quickly over the course of an evening—the sushi bar becomes a flurry of activity, while the dining room becomes peppered with couples enjoying a quiet meal. The outdoor patio is a rare treat for a sushi restaurant, and is an ideal space for larger groups—when booked ahead it can accommodate parties of up to 60 guests. The diversity of the seating options makes the restaurant well-suited to a variety of occasions.
We opt for seats at the 17-seat sushi bar, for an up-close view of Sushi Chef Sung So and his son Bobby So's work. The menu is extensive and accessible, with over 40 specialty rolls as well as a more traditional selection of sashimi, nigiri, and maki. Photos of some of the more popular rolls appear on the menu, making ordering a breeze. In addition to the regular menu, which also includes hot appetizers, noodle dishes, and bento box entrees, a selection of specials can be found on a white board on the wall. Adventurous sorts will find live fish and abalone offered when available, as well as excellent deals, such as a lobster roll for just $7.
All of the sushi rolls are the creation of Chef So. "They're common ingredients," his son Bobby explains, "it’s just how you put them together." Chef So is a master at creative concoctions. Rolls such as the Dynamite roll offer stunning visual presentations, put together with the ultimate craft and care. We opt to sample three of the most popular special rolls on the menu.
The Wasabi Special Roll is the house signature, a decadent combination of lobster, avocado, cucumber, and shrimp tempura wrapped in sushi rice and nori and topped with albacore, house sauce, masago and green onion. It sounds like a mouthful, and it is—and a delicious one to boot. We watch as Bobby carefully prepares the fish, slicing it effortlessly, dipping his hands in water, preparing the rice-coated nori, rolling everything together with a careful patience. Eight slices arrive perfectly arranged on a plate in an arresting blend of textures and colors. The roll is a burst of flavor, and we are instantly hooked—the freshness of the albacore mingles with the creamy sauce, while the lobster and shrimp tempura lend a lingering decadence.
Our next roll, the H.O.T. Roll, is a favorite among heat-lovers. Spicy tuna, crab, avocado, and cucumber are wrapped in nori and rice and topped with tuna, avocado, hot sauce, green onion, masago, and a sliver of jalapeño. The roll is stunning and vibrant, awash with playful tones from the pink fish and red sauce. The innocent appearance belies the flavor that waits—a burst of fresh fish followed quickly by several layers of spiciness. The intoxicating flavor lingers long after the piece is swallowed, tingling the tong, enticing us back for more. Tenacious slivers of jalapeño are responsible for a good kick of the heat—cleverly buried beneath the sauce, masago, and green onion. We learn it is Bobby’s favorite roll and quickly concur.
After the H.O.T. roll, the Samurai Roll offers a welcome creaminess. Spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, and avocado are topped with salmon and house sauce, but before it is handed across the bar the roll is "baked" using a flame torch. Our anticipation heightens as we watch the dish being prepared, eagerly watching as Bobby effortlessly and evenly torches the roll. The result is sublime—the sauce melts and the salmon is gently warmed. After it is topped with masago and green onion, the dish is handed to us, and we relish the warmth while at the same time savoring the creaminess. Who knew sushi could be so decadent?
Our faces must have displayed our pleasure, because Bobby soon insists we try something simpler. "You have to try our yellowtail," he presses, "it’s so fresh." Again seemingly without effort, he scoops up small balls of sushi rice, forming each into an ovular shape with his hands, and then presses a thin slice of yellowtail on top. A plate with the two nigiri is handed to us, and he watches as we experience the velvety fish dissolve on our tongues, the tart rice providing a tender accompaniment. Simple and unadorned, the fish alone rivals the most creative special roll. A smile and nod is all that's needed to acknowledge this is some of the best fish around.
We are eager to press on, and while we are tempted by the sushi that is being prepared in front of us, we decide to test the non-sushi portion of the menu. A selection of noodles and udon dishes look tempting, but we opt for more variety. Wasabi offers a wide array of combination dinners and bento boxes that serve several different selections at once. For the sushi-weary, or the diner that wants more variety, the Special Wasabi Boxes seem ideal. A selection of 17 dishes, including sushi and hot selections, allow for a seemingly endless array of options. Tempting dishes include sesame chicken teriyaki, pork katsu, spicy tuna tempura roll, and mixed sashimi. Each box features generous portions of two selected dishes accompanied by rice, soup, salad, and mixed tempura.
We sample a Special Wasabi Box with BBQ Rib Teriaki and Salmon Teriyaki. We turn to the barbeque first, the item on our plate that seems the farthest removed from sushi. It is excellent—the thin strips of barbeque beef are tender and mesh perfectly with the teriyaki sauce. The salmon is even better—tender and moist and cooked to perfection. It is no surprise the fish seems just as fresh as the sushi before it. We also enjoy the mixed tempura—sweet potato, broccoli, and shrimp—which melts in our mouth and begs to be dipped in the accompanying tangy dipping sauce.
As we linger over our Wasabi Box, we watch with amazement at the array of sushi being prepared in front of us. To our right, a pair of regulars order exotic sea urchin nigiri and a baked Dynamite roll, while a couple to our left opts for the Special Wasabi Boat, an oversized presentation of sushi and teriyaki, presented at once in a large wooden boat. For a table behind us, Chef So gracefully prepares a "3x4"--a plate of sashimi featuring four pieces each of yellowtail, tuna, and salmon sashimi, each on its own nest of noodles. Even a simple house salad looks stunning, the mixed greens and sprouts carefully laid across the plate with perfection.
I feel as if we could stay all evening, simply watching Bobby and his father spin together endless creations. The room is bustling, and the activity behind the sushi bar is more so—both pairs of hands work deftly and gracefully, pausing only to dip their fingertips in a nearby bowl of water or call back into the kitchen for a piece of tempura. But alas, our empty plates are cleared and there are guests waiting for a spot at the near-full bar. As we walk out the double doors I look back longingly, already eager to return.
I feel like I have been let on to a secret. I will no longer be fooled by the restaurant’s non-descript exterior, as I know what awaits inside. This is a place to be welcomed by a smiling sushi chef, be seated where you choose, and leave with a smile on your face. It is a place where the prices are reasonable, the fish is high quality and fresh, and the selection is creative and enticing. Whether you are just introducing yourself to sushi, looking to try more adventurous items, or simply want to order reliable favorites, Wasabi Sushi is a place to return to again and again.
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