Sushi and Sake at Sushi Sake

20 Feb

I was not raised to be a raw food person. Every part of my childhood upbringing was very much assimilated to western culture except for this one little area. Like most Chinese parents, my parents did not eat raw meat (heck, most Chinese people don’t even like salad because the veggies are uncooked). I say “did” because I think my mom has finally learned to like sushi after a two-month stay in Hawaii. My dad’s another story.

I never even had a steak any less cooked than “well done” until high school. Even now I never order steak any less cooked than medium. Naturally, the idea of sushi didn’t appeal to me. When I had a long layover in the Tokyo airport, I opted for the cooked udon noodles over the sushi bar (not that airport sushi would be spectacular, but I was in Japan!) Before moving to Dallas after graduating college, my only experience with sushi was limited to the California roll.

On the surface, it doesn’t make sense that I would start experimenting with sushi in a non-coastal city like Dallas. But the town likes to be trendy and people are becoming more health-conscious, so sushi restaurants are everywhere (there are 16 within a 5-mile radius of my semi-suburban apartment). I started eating sushi. First, it was all the cooked stuff, shrimp tempura, eel, soft shelled crab. Then I ventured into a couple of “raw” items that sounded familiar, tuna and salmon, starting with rolls, then slowly venturing into nigiri sushi, then sashimi (only for smoked salmon). I stayed in my comfort zone of those two “raw” items and cooked items for a long time, reasoning that Dallas is a landlocked city and I didn’t want to have to call in work the next day with a case of “I had some bad sushi last night.”

Then I was offered a belated Valentine’s dinner at Sushi Sake, the best and freshest sushi restaurant in Dallas by popular voteof Dallas chowhounds. Now I had no excuses. Unless I was planning on traveling to Japan soon (which sadly my budget can’t handle right now), now was the time to venture out of the comfort zone.

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Sushi Sake is a beautifully modern restaurant in an unexpectedly location in Richardson (between large office buildings in an area that has mostly chains unless you venture out to Chinatown or the Indian markets a couple of miles away). The small place was packed at 8:00pm on a Saturday night. We wanted sushi bar seating, but opted for first available when we saw the wait (ended up being only 20 minutes but the hostess had quoted longer). We sat at a community table, adjacent to a party of three. At first I was taken aback by the seating arrangement, but I soon adjusted and started enjoying the intimate environment.

We opted for one of the cheaper sakes on the sake list (not being familiar with sake at all) and ordered the smoked squid with vegetables as an appetizer.

Sake:

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Smoked Squid Appetizer:

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The smoked squid was tossed with a ginger vinaigrette and small chunks of seaweed. The chewy texture of the squid was not rubbery, but rather like an al dente pasta. The dressing gave it a semi-sweet flavor that I really enjoyed.

Then came our a la carte sushi order. Gizzard shad (one of the specials of the night, I was fearing the worst when my companion ordered this without any idea to what it is), smoked salmon, yellowtail, flying fish roe, eel roll, and spider roll.

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It was a combination of old favorites and new adventures, but I loved all of it. The gizzard shad (I actually had horrendous images of turkey gizzard when I saw this on the menu) was very fresh and had an interesting but not too fishy flavor. It was my first time to try yellowtail, I have to say the flavor wasn’t anything exciting for my palate. But that’s just personal taste. The flying fish roe was fun and delicious, salty little crunchy bubbles that burst when you bit into it, very fitting for people like me who love to pop the bubbles on bubble wrap. The eel roll and spider roll were both excellent, fresh ingredients, didn’t fall apart easily, and the eel and crab were seasoned just right (the batter on the soft shell crab was some of the lightest but crunchiest I’ve ever had). The highlight of the night was an old favorite, smoked salmon, so fresh that it practically melted in your mouth. When I go back (and I definitely will be), I’ll be ordering the smoked salmon sashimi and fighting my companion for every bite.

Our waitress was a bit terse with us but I think partly because it was a very busy night. I would love to return to Sushi Sake with a seat at the sushi bar. But it’s not a trip I’ll be making too often because it isn’t exactly cheap. The total for sake, appetizer, and the few a la carte orders was $55 including tax and tip. From my limited experience with sushi in Dallas so far, Sushi Sake is definitely there at the top for quality and freshness.

Rating: 4 / 5

Sushi Sake
2150 N. Collins Blvd
Richardson, TX 75082

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