For owner Kwi Kwon Jang, the toughest part of his job is convincing people that sushi does not mean raw fish. He admits that when some people hear the word "sushi," they equate it with raw fish. He says of the more than "47 kinds of rolls I have, only 10 percent includes raw fish." The rest is all cooked, he says. Still, this lack of understanding does not seem to have hurt his business. Since Nov. 5, 2009, Jang has been not only perfecting his English, but more importantly has been operating a very successfully restaurant.
Growing up in South Korea, he explains how his mother operated a restaurant which led to his inspiration to follow her in the industry. Formerly, for 18 years he was the manager of a landscape company in South Korea, but arrived in the United States and changed occupations. "I have a friend in California who owns a Japanese restaurant who has helped me with some of my recipes. The Sushi House menu is six pages, but he say of all items, the sushi is the most important.
Page one of the menu lists 20 appetizers ranging from such creations as A16 Spicy Crab (cucumber, avocado and spicy crab) to A20 Dragon Ball (three sushi rice balls deep fried with crab salad) to A1 Edamame (boiled green soy beans) and A4 Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell. Most everyone will find something of culinary interest in this list. Jang says the most popular appetizers include the A19 Jalapeno Blossom (fried jalapeno with cream cheese, crab salad and onion with special sauce), the A18 Creamy Shrimp (shrimp, cream cheese and asparagus wonton), the A2 Crab Cake (fried crab cake using breadcrumb with smoked salmon, mozzarella cheese, jalapeno, imitation crab and cream cheese), and the always favorite A8 Shrimp Tempura (battered shrimp and bell pepper).
Although these popular items did appeal to us, my friend and I rather selected the A6 Age-dashi Tofu ($5.50, fried tofu served with tempura sauce). We arrived at Sushi House on Friday evening, and dined among many others who also had the same idea. The décor here is quaint, yet simple--not over done. Round Japanese paper shades mute the lighting to a glow, and a few other decorative touches position the diners in an Asian-themed dining room. Hot Jasmine Tea (Bigelow brand) was our drink selection although we did notice that Sushi House was currently running a special of "buy 1 Sake get 1 free.
Our Tofu arrived: half-inch cut squares of tofu that, as Jang describes, have been dredged in flour, egg and tempura batter. The first thought that came to our minds when biting into these delicate little squares of goodness was the tofu taste being fresh, clean and light. Served hot and crispy and virtually tasteless, each bite was creamy and assumed the flavor of the tempura sauce. Jang was quite reluctant to give away the ingredients in this sauce, saying it was a "secret." The best my friend and I could tell, we tasted garlic, soy sauce, and possibly mirin (a Japanese sweet wine). The flavor was robust, catching the tofu (and us) off-guard with a burst of flavor.
For our main course, we ordered two items: D1 Tempura Udong ($7.95) and R3 Deluxe Sashimi ($21.95). But before those arrived, we both shared S3 Seaweed Salad ($4.95), an assortment of marinated seaweed. Again, Jang was tight-lipped on what seaweed and dressing comprised this salad although the main taste was of sesame seed oil, vinegar and soy sauce with the crisp and crunchy seaweed. It was topped with toasted sesame seeds. After that, our server presented us with a bowl of hot Edamame, a nice transition to our main dishes. The soy beans were hot and crisp, with a slight salty seasoning.
The main dishes arrived: nigiri sushi which consisted of tight mounds of sushi rice topped with raw snapper, white tuna, yellowtail tuna and salmon. We found each bite good although a few had a lingering "fishy" taste--the snapper and salmon. In addition, my friend thought the white tuna had a "tinny" taste. The fish was fresh, but in our estimation not as brilliantly fresh as others we have tasted about the city. For the most part, the sushi was delightful dipped in soy sauce with a touch a freshly-sliced ginger and soft and strong-willed wasabi.
Wrap and Roll.
The noodle soup was a large bowl of udong noodles cooked in a fish broth with tempura shrimp. Udong noodles are very popular in Japanese cuisine. They are very thick and round, puffing up when boiled. The texture was soft and very dense--very filling. It has been said that Buddhist priest Kukai introduced this noodle to the Japanese in the 9th century A.D. This soup was slightly sweet and rich in flavor. This was a very filling bowl of soup. And, although the sushi order came with miso soup, we never were served the soup. (By this time the restaurant was getting busy, so we figured our soup was lost among other orders streaming in.)
I will return to Sushi House for more samples from the huge menu, maybe even take advantage of another special Jang mentioned, order three or more sushi rolls and get a Fuji Roll free. While sushi dominates the menu, for the non-sushi lover, other dishes are plentiful, such as the Hibachi (Iron Board Cooking) dishes of sirloin steak, filet mignon, Sukiyaki steak, hibachi chicken and hibachi vegetables. There is even a children's menu with items such as popcorn shrimp and chicken, sirloin steak, chicken teriyaki. This includes noodles, vegetables, fried rice and ice cream.
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