Essence of Dallas on One Plate (Simon’s Sushi)

9 Apr

You’re hooting and hollering along with the live country music at Love & War in Texas, drinking a cold Shiner, chowing down on a Texas-sized chicken fried heart attack, and showing your Yankee visitors a good time.  They’re embracing that “don’t mess with Texas” attitude and loving it.  You’re feeling like an accomplished host, but also feeling… a little guilty inside?  That’s because deep down somewhere, you know you’re not being honest. 

Let’s face it, that carefree cowboy culture is not the essence of Dallas.  The per capita Wrangler denim ownership rate in these parts is a lot lower than other regions of the state.  We have left those around us (namely a westerly neighbor) to embrace true western heritage while we’ve moved onto… what exactly?

About 20 footsteps north of the gimmicky but captivating fun at Love and War in Texas lies a potential answer.

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Simon Chuang of Simon’s Sushi is the creator of this plate of mismash, Tex-fusion, pseudo-Japanese cuisine called the Better Than Sex roll, known simply as BTS when the kiddos are around (and they are often at this family friendly establishment).  Putting a label on the brand of cuisine to which this dish belongs is just as difficult as summing up Dallas culture in one succint catchphrase.  The tempura batter flakes and crab meat rolled up inside sushi rice and seaweed wrap, topped with salmon and pico de gallo, bathing in a pool of sesame oil-infused tangy sauce satisfies a Dallasite’s craving for food trendiness (Asian fusion, sushi), ingrained love for Tex Mex (pico de gallo), and genetic predisposition to worship all things deep fried (tempura batter flakes) all in one dish.  You want a plate that represents Dallas, how about this addictively delicious one?

But warn your visitors that Simon’s is not a glamorous joint by any stretch.  Whereas an outing to most popular sushi places in Dallas involves an overpriced fruity sake-tini concoction and lots of designer logo flashing, Simon’s Sushi is BYOB and situated in a rather unglamorous suburban strip mall next to a Planned Parenthood.  It’s your neighborhood sushi place with no pretense (I’ve seen both 30 year olds and 8 year olds celebrate their birthdays here), and Simon himself is almost always there to greet you and make your dinner.

Simon’s sushi menu isn’t crazy in the traditional sense, that is, diners wanting exotic sea creatures for dinner might be disappointed.  But he does create beautiful plates that breathes new life into boring old salmon and tuna and whatnot.  Take for example, the cucumber salmon roll:

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Sitting at the sushi bar watching Simon rotate his knife to carve that cucumber into a thin sheet with such ease and speed creates great anticipation for this dish.  And the contrast between the crunchy cucumber and silken salmon in your mouth is worth all the anticipation.

I also enjoy the spin Simon puts on his volcano roll:

simonsvolcano.jpg

The topping to the volcano roll is scallops and mushrooms with a mayonnaise based sauce covered in masago smelt.  I usually avoid volcano rolls because they’re just too rich, and though I still find the amount of mayonnaise a little excessive, the addition of mushrooms in Simon’s volcano roll grounds the dish with a touch of earthiness.

More traditional items at Simon’s are also superb.  The batter on the softshell crab inside the spider roll held on well, no sign of limpy crab syndrome.  Spicy tuna roll is high on heat factor, with visible studs of chilis among the tuna’s deep pink flesh. Eel is cooked to perfection with a slightly crunchy exterior and just a touch of sauce, nothing excessive that drowns out the flavor of the eel.

Spider Roll:

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Spicy Tuna Roll:

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Eel:

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Service at Simon’s is always friendly and attentive.  Great attention is paid to beverage service (ice buckets are brought out for beverages requiring chilling as soon as you sit down, appropriate drinkware is provided for sake) even though the BYOB establishment charges no corkage fee.  For the quality of food and service at Simon’s, the value is hard to beat.  Add that engimatic, addictive BTS roll into the equation, and this little neighborhood eatery becomes worthy of showing off to out-of-town guests.

Rating: 4 / 5

Simon’s Sushi
810 N. Central Expy
Plano, TX 75074

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7 Responses to “Essence of Dallas on One Plate (Simon’s Sushi)”

  1. michaela0416 04/09/2008 at 10:48 pm #

    Great review, Donna. You’ve got a pretty good feel for what makes Dallas tick for a non-native 😉

  2. donnaaries 04/09/2008 at 11:21 pm #

    I’d say that growing up in that westerly neighbor city of Fort Worth helps. Hehe.

  3. michaela0416 04/09/2008 at 11:44 pm #

    Yeah, you Fort Worth-ingtons seem to know Big D better than we know Cowtown, that’s for sure!

  4. FatCap 04/10/2008 at 4:59 am #

    BTW that’s masago–smelt or capeloin roe–on top of the volcano.
    Salmon roe (ikura) is far too expensive and too big of a grain for such use. Just image-search on ikura for a view of what ikura looks like.
    Simon Chuan has trained a whole “generation” of sushi chefs in DFW, including the crew at Steel that has branched out to a half dozen other restaurants

  5. donnaaries 04/10/2008 at 7:07 am #

    Ahh, thanks for the info, I’ll correct the post.

  6. michelle 04/14/2008 at 5:00 pm #

    great review! i have (on a strange whim) been to Love & War and felt it was an amusement park take on Texan fare. would have definitely skipped it for sushi 🙂

  7. sweetnsavory 04/24/2008 at 4:16 pm #

    omg, i want that volcano roll, now!

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