There are so many fusion sushi and Japanese places in the city. How does one stand out? How do you choose one place when the others, when they all offer something similar, if not same by another name? Each of these place is trying to make their own mark. They each attempt to craft the perfect roll with the most ingredients, and one that has the most unique ingredients. Replacing rice for cucumber, seaweed for bean curd. Anything that would deem them innovators in the North American sushi game. And when that fails to make a ripple they rely on clever names or funny puns. Sushi named after streets signs, local areas, or familiar landmarks. Or rolls with names have have you taking a second look. Why is it called that? Or that sounds interesting, I wonder how it tastes.
Today we were at one of the more well known fusion sushi purveyors in Steveson. One of my guests have been before and she recommend their sushi for taste and presentation. She was definitely right about the latter. They pull out all the stops with theatrics. I guess people are not just interested in the food anymore, they want a show with it. How is the sushi prepared, how is it plated, and how will it translated into photographs? The rolls below were sushi with a story, maki plated to resemble something else. And when that fails they even use flames to attract attention. You know you are successful in the above when a plate walks by a table and those who see it ask what is it and proceed to order one for themselves.
From the exterior the restaurant didn’t seem very special. You would think they would put just as much effort in to the decor and the setting as they did on each plate. We were given a seat across from the sushi bar. Although built with a counter, the sushi bar wasn’t actually used to seat patron, instead it was home to pitchers of water, excess cutlery, and stacks of dishes. Between us and the other tables close to the entrance/exit was a wooden divide. They dressed up the barricade with potted greenery. Grass in clear cups, and weeds in green platers gave colour to the otherwise dark brown space.
I liked the right wa11 with its uneven wood block build. It had a 3D look with several pieces jutting out further than others. The ledge they created was used to display tiny plastic figures. Hard to see, other than by the shadows they cast. I made out safari and ocean animals, and even a tiny man fishing.
Similarly to a past review of other fusion sushi rolls, at a different restaurant, I too found that majority of the flavours blended well together. They all had similar foundations and used similar ingredients, so therefore tasted alike. It was a even balance of salty and sweet, and tangy with heat. The kind of flavour you get from mixing Chinese hoisin and oyster sauce together. Though each roll had its own way of leaving you with a memorable mark.
The “Dragon roll” had fire. I saw the flame from the sushi counter and immediately told my guest that I wanted it. Little did I know that it would end up before me. It was an avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab in a roll with grilled BBQ eel on top. The roll was cut up and rebuilt to snake in a “S” shape like an Asian dragon would. The fire burning in the dish, at its end was for presentation sake only. This was the breath the “dragon” blew. The gimmick worked on me, before I knew this was ours, I wanted it. I saw it sitting on the counter and scrambled to see which was it on the menu. Essentially the base was a California roll, the glazed eel and raising flame hid this fact well behind smoke and mirrors.
The “Monkey brain” was one ordered for name sake. I don’t know how a monkey’s brain looks like, but I guess this was a decent guess, round and veiny? It is deep fried avocado with juicy crab meat and cooked tuna, coated heavily in two sauces. It pretty much just tasted like the salty and tangy sauce everything was drizzled in. Salty and spicy. Each wedge was fried crispy on the outside, but smooth and paste-like in the middle. It almost melted in between your lips. I really wasn’t able to make out any of the crab or tuna stuffed in. Not that it needed more flavours or additional ingredients. Deep fried anything is win, but even more so when it involves avocado. I liked it texturally the best.
The “Sexy roll”, an eye catching name, but one I wasn’t sure of. Why was it given its name? Was it done so with the belief that eating this would be low calorie and healthy roll equates to being sexy? Avocado, imitation crab, tuna, salmon, ebi, and tamago wrapped with thinly sliced cucumber. No rice, no carbs. It was a clean and simple bite. Refreshing and light, like eating a salad.
The “Blue ocean roll” looked more like the “garden roll”. Especially with it ends crafted to look like bloomed flowers. Though its name actually refers to the fresh raw fish used. Red tuna, hamachi, salmon, radish sprouts, and avocado in soy wrap with a tobiko topping. This was the closest thing we had to authentic sushi, where the fish is highlighted.
The “Tank roll’s” name was clear by its sheer size. Though we would have also accepted “beast roll” or “elephant roll”. It had everything. It was the fusion of a California roll, a Philadelphia roll, and dynamite roll; all rolled into one. Made with prawn tempura, salmon, tuna, tobiko, ebi, smoked salmon, imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese. This one was a two biter, but good luck trying to get it to stay in one piece.
The “Godzilla bite” was tuna and salmon on a deep fried seaweed and rice base. It is then torched before being topped with spicy chopped scallop, alfalfa sprouts, and tobiko. It and the accompanying ring of salad greens was then seasoned with their special dressing. The vinaigrette had things tasting of mustard. This was essentially a pancake of rice and seaweed flattened, fried, and then cut into bite sized pieces to be used as the base for fish and scallop. They reminded me of sushi canapés. This was my favourite of all the rolls. I liked the charred flavour and the fact it was served warm. And the alfalfa stood out, giving things a peppery taste.
Our meal ended with milk based candies accompanying the bill. Melon, banana, and a milk flavoured milk candy.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It wasn’t the best sushi I have ever had, but it was some of the best and most creative sushi presentation I have ever seen. The extra embellishments really set it apart for me, reason enough for a revisit. Don’t deny your cravings.