Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Belt Fish Pressed Sushi, Turnip Sushi & King Crab Tempura at Yutaka Sushi Bistro in Dallas

Sushi in Texas

Let us debunk the myth that great sushi couldn’t possibly be found in such a rough-hewn and raw state as Texas. As discovered in cities like Dallas and Fort Worth, the Lone Star State can be full of surprises when it comes to producing culturally advanced and increasingly popular eateries—proof of a refined palate, a burgeoning ethnic restaurant scene.

One of the best Japanese restaurants is Yutaka Sushi Bistro in uptown Dallas. With exotic fish and vegetables served as sushi—from Tachiuo (belt fish) pressed sushi to crispy and sour Kabu (Japanese turnip) served nigiri-style—Yutaka’s offerings are rare and delicious.

It’s not just about the sushi at Yutaka. The menu here is also divided among the hot dishes, cold dishes, and specialty tempura, the latter of which boasts a memorable fried king crab with jalapeno vinaigrette, tossed with onions and shishito peppers.

Specialty Dishes at Yutaka in Dallas

Kobe Beef, Hot or Cold?

The most succulent Kobe beef is served either smoldering ishiyaki-style in a hot stone bowl or seared and spread around a cool center of greens.

For a refreshing and healthful appetizer, there’s always the Heirloom Tomato Salad, which combines cucumber slices, mint leaves and tangy, fermented miso. The artistically arranged salad is then dressed in what appears to be balsamic vinegar and oil, and pink peppercorns are tossed in.

A personal favorite? The Flounder Chips with avocado, green onions, masago, and spicy mayonnaise spread across them. The chefs display these (sans sauce) atop the sushi bar in a tray; unless someone orders some, the funny-looking crisps only pique curiosity and don’t get topped with the green-colored mix. The fishy chips are as crunchy as tortilla chips, and the topping is spicy and creamy, a perfect pairing.

Yutaka Sushi Bistro
2633 McKinney Avenue, Dallas

Hot Rock & Hawaiian Roll at Kenichi in Dallas

Kenichi Restaurant & Lounge

In Dallas’ downtown district, adjacent to the W Hotel, Kenichi is another trendy hotspot not to be passed up.

Also using the concept of ishiyaki, or the ancient Japanese method of cooking food on a hot stone, Kenichi offers a 12-piece Chef’s Selection of raw meats and mushrooms you can sear on your own with a round rock that has been heated at 1,000 degrees. Bite-sized portions of Akaushi “kobe style” meat, scallop, escolar and shiitake are served with three accompanying seasonings: ponzu sauce, smoked paprika salt, and pink peppercorn sesame salt.

Although the style and presentation were immaculate, the stone could have been bigger considering there were 12 pieces to be cooked, and perhaps there should have been a sliver of butter provided so that the food didn’t stick to the cooking surface (toward the end of the sizzling session, my rock had dwindled in heat and I had to request a second one).

The Jumbo Lump Blue Fin Crab Cake, served with yellow curry-lime and Thai basil emulsions, was a wonderful alternative to having just sushi and sashimi at the bar, although the Hawaiian Roll with blackened yellowtail, pineapple, asparagus, Serrano peppers and soy paper was impressive.

2400 Victory Park Lane, Dallas

Tuscany Roll, Strawberry Roll & Cayman Roll at Sushi Zushi in Dallas

Over-the-top Sushi Rolls

Meanwhile, some of the zaniest rolls can be found at Sushi Zushi, located inside Dallas’ Turtle Creek Shopping Center. The Tuscany Roll, which unexpectedly mixes sun-dried tomatoes, takuan pickles and cream cheese, is a roll that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be, but it doesn’t taste bad; it is at once sour and sweet, chewy and crunchy.

For a fruity, really sweet twist, there’s always the Strawberry Roll, which has shrimp tempura and masago inside and is colorfully layered with tuna, avocado and strawberry slices on the outside. Kiwi Sauce and Las Vegas Sauce drizzle this eight-piece roll (I learned the kiwi sauce here was actually a kiwi-lime dessert syrup; the Las Vegas Sauce was what they called their spicy mayonnaise).

The Cayman Roll, also over-the-top with its ingredients of imitation crab, habanero-marinated tobiko, seaweed salad, cream cheese, pickled and fresh jalapenos, and honey wasabi sauce, makes your mouth feel as though it’s been stung by the very bee that made the honey in the sauce—it’s a spicy one, all right.

Sushi Zushi
3858 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas

Sexy Roll & Conch Sushi at Piranha Killer Sushi in Fort Worth

Killer Sushi

With its lethal-sounding name and sharply recognizable logo, Piranha Killer Sushi must make a killing in Downtown Fort Worth, which is just one of its four locations throughout the state. The central joint grows vibrant nightly with tourists, college kids and those just out on the town with its hip ambience and vast martini menu (Cowboytini and 5th Amendment are just two of the tempters on the list).

The “Piranha Signature Rolls” range from the Southwest Roll (Chipotle pesto over a California Roll) to Vietnamese Summer Roll (salmon, tuna, crab, tomatoes, mango, asparagus and other greens wrapped with rice paper). The Sexy Roll is just a bit more insidious than it sounds, since the unanticipated seasonings of cajun powder and chili sauce are so spicy they make you kick up your spurs, but overall the flavors enhance the load of shrimp tempura, crawfish, avocado, mango bits and ginger cream.

Although reminiscent of Florida, where the mollusks abound, the conch sushi here actually hails from Washington. Although fresh as can be, after one bite of the rubbery thing I was wondering what it is that makes me want to order any conch anywhere, and then I remember: I am a tourist from Los Angeles who craves the rarities.

Piranha Killer Sushi
335 W. 3rd Street, Fort Worth