Arthur Hebert Thursday, August 1, 2013 0

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 4.55.57 PM3035 Hwy. 14, 337-990-5475 • Open Monday-Friday, 11 am-2:30 pm and 

4:30-10 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am-10 pm • Price range: $2-$46

Ten years ago, I could not have imagined there being more than the one sushi joint Lake Charles had at that time. Now, there will soon be six.

The reason I’m not crazy about these steak houses and sushi restaurants is that I no longer do hibachi. Thirty years ago it excited me, but not now. Hibachi is really a group activity, and I seldom do that anymore.

Each time I visited, an appetizer-size salad was sent out gratis. The first salad I got was kani salad (surimi shredded and topped with fried Panko [Japanese bread crumbs] and eel sauce).  The combo of texture and taste in this dish sat well with me.  Another time, I had the squid salad (marinated strips of squid steak tossed with marinated Japanese pickled vegetables). It turned out to be a bit chewy, but had good flavor.

My first visit revealed other dishes that I enjoyed. There was the agedashi tofu (a new favorite of mine), which consists of fried tofu cubes soaked in a bonito (dry tuna) and soy broth topped with shavings of bonito. The frying gives this dish a little flavor, but the punch comes from the cubes being soaked in the aromatic and flavorful broth.

The second item which I now love is hamachi kama.  This is a yellowfin tuna collar, grilled in this case. The collar meat is the most tender and most flavorful on a fish. I would rather have collar than any other fillet of fish.

I went two more times with my dining companion. On our first time in together, she ordered an entree, and I went with a rice dish. With both dishes you can get either a seaweed salad or a regular side salad. We both opted for the green salad. It was lovely, and dressed with a sesame ginger dressing.  You also get a choice of miso or onion soup. We went with miso, and it tasted as good as any I have had.

We ordered and shared two appetizers: mango and shrimp kabob and spring rolls. The skewers contained chunks of grilled shrimp and unripe mango chunks. The shrimp were wonderful; the mango not so much.  The rolls consisted of finely chopped vegetables in a fried spring roll wrapper, served with sweet and sour sauce.

My companion ordered a miso Chilean sea bass.  She received a bento box of rice, tempura vegetables,  shrimp, a small California roll, a five oz. portion of fish over cabbage, and a slice of cantaloupe. The bites she offered to me tasted good.

My order was unagi dan. It consisted of a bottom layer of rice with a fillet of barbecue eel garnished with a cucumber fan. Since unagi is one my favorite sushi fishes, I took after it like a shark. It was delicious.

At the end of the meal you get a complimentary scoop of ice cream.  They have a decent choice of flavors.

On my last visit, I went for the seaweed salad. It’s an acquired taste, and I happen to like it.  My companion and I split an order of gyoza.  This is basically Japanese pot stickers stuffed with pork and served with ponzu sauce (citrus soy).

I ordered the grilled shrimp entree. The dish consisted of nine shrimp, which were as good as if not better than the kabobs. The dish contained all the accompaniments I mentioned with the sea bass.

My companion’s order requires a little story. Just before we ordered, food was delivered to a nearby table. It was a four inch or higher mound on a large platter. I asked our server what it was.  She said it was an “Oh My God” roll and explained what was in it.

To my surprise, my companion ordered it.  It was a soy bean paper roll filled with shrimp tempura, soft shell crab, crab meat and deep fried.  It was laid on spicy salmon and topped with a special sauce. My companion loved it, and I loved it.

This is a lovely venue with an interior upgrade. The service is fantastic, and especially the service of the host, or the front of the house. This host goes out of the way to make you comfortable. While there’s not a buffet here, the portions are more than generous. My advice: If you order one of the entree, noodle or rice dishes, do not order an appetizer.

This is an excellent place for lunch or dinner.

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