Last week my eating club went to Sansui West on Manchester in Warson Woods, which used to be Ted and Teiko's. The atmosphere is very Japanese - light wood, simple furniture, decent lighting, cleanliness and a nifty mat room in which you take off your shoes and dine with many others. Refreshingly there was no music to distract from the experience. I think you have to have 10 to dine there - this will be the goal next time. We had 7 intrepid diners.
The menu at Sansui is quite simple. There are appetizers (soups, edamame, gyoza and other nibblies), sushi, salads and main courses. The beer list is exemplary and full of the tastes of Japan. Sake is also available. Of course, there is also a standard tea.
Edamame (soy beans served in the shell) was cold and not too salty. Miso soup was very nice, with a small sampling of seaweed and a few soft tofu chunks. Gyoza, a light-skinned dumpling with pork and ginger filling was truly marvelous. It was ever so much better than what the Chinese do to their dumplings. An order of 6 is made to share (which I failed to do!) One diner also ordered an appetizer of tempura, which was a nice size and contained plenty for sharing. Then the sushi started arriving - in enormous platters shaped like boats, with sails and cargo netting. Those Japanese can be so literal! When we say we want a boatload. . . The table sampled just about everything on the sushi menu. The only criticism was that some diners could not figure out what they were eating. Isn't it time for Japanese restaurants to update those pictures on the sushi menu? Other than this inexperienced mishap, everyone ate everything and groaned delightedly. I was particularly impressed with one neophyte diner. He said he had only ever eaten grocery store sushi yet tried all of the funny stuff with no complaint and no flinching. More seasoned sushi fans were in gobbling heaven. No one said anything negative. The eel with cucumber was judged the winner at the sushi rounds. Two diners also had main courses. One was the yellowfin tuna steak, which was pronounced perfect. The other was a big helping of tempura. The tempura at Sansui West is not as good as that at Sansui on West Pine. It was just a touch greasier and served too chilly. However, it was still better than any other tempura this writer has tried in St. Louis. Also, there is a choice of what you want in the tempura at Sansui. This diner chose the shrimp - gargantuan beauties also served with potato, onion, asparagus and eggplant. Both entrees were served with a salad lightly dressed in a piquant ginger sauce, some bizarro tasteless bean sprout thing, a lovely shaped rice chunk and the traditional dipping sauces.
We left Sansui in good spirits with stuffed tummies. The only criticism is that the service is a tad frosty and the timing is not like other restaurants. The latter is largely due to the fact that one chef is making all of the sushi and cannot complete whole platters instantaneously. So, the statement is more of a warning to unsuspecting. I wonder, though, why the servers can't bring out smaller batches at a time. The bill was large, as it always is when we eat sushi. I rate Sansui West just a notch below Sansui, which is the best Japanese in St. Louis.
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