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DFW -- Sushi Sake

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DFW -- Sushi Sake

Kirk | Jul 20, 2005 09:02 AM

We happened to be in the general area of Campbell and Central Expressway tonight, and decided to stop in Sushi Sake for a quick bite. Despite its being located in a strip mall, it is definitely worth the trip. (Hey, Aurora is in a strip mall, too, as are so many other good restaurants in Texas.)

In our past experience, we've had to wait to be seated, but tonight the two of us were seated immediately -- albeit on the inside half of a table for six. It was about 8:30 when we arrived, so we may have arrived after the rush. In spite of the close company, we did not feel crowded at the table.

The restaurant is small, but nicely appointed. There is a sushi bar for approsimately 20 (with four chefs), and eight rows of tables sunken into a raised "dais" of maple wood. There is also a western table for 10 in the front corner of the restaurant All of the tables are considered communal, and diners are seated with strangers if the party is smaller than six. Service, provided by four servers tonight, is attentive, friendly and well-paced.

There is a large chalkboard covering the wall behind the sushi bar, listing the day's freshest fish and specials for the evening. We ordered two of the listed appetizers, whiting tempura (delicious) and a plate of 10 tiny crabs, the size of quarters, that were perfectly deep fried. Both appetizers were under $6 each.

Tonight, we both ordered chirashi sushi for our main courses. Chirashi -- or scattered -- sushi is assorted pieces of sashimi-like fish that are generally served on top of a bed of sushi rice. At Sushi Sake, it is served in a split lacquered box with the fish (and, tonight, tamago) on one side, and the rice, topped with mushrooms and pickles, on the other side. I think chirashi is a true test of a sushi chef, since it requires fish and rice of the highest quality. Sushi Sake's chirashi rises to the challenge.

The fish included a wide variety of offerings, from deliciously oily Spanish mackerel and horse mackerel to standards like salmon and maguro tuna. All of the fish were some of the best I have had in Dallas, and among the best I have had anywhere. The only disappointing items tonight were two relatively large pieces of surimi (aka krab legs). Nontheless, at $17 an order, the chirashi sushi was a steal.

We ordered the "special" cold sake ($9 per generous serving in a wooden box) which was perfectly dry and an excellent accompaniment to both the appetizers and the main course.

In my opinion, this restaurant serves the best sushi in the Dallas area. The menu is broad and deep, and I look forward to exploring it in more detail. My exposure to their rolls and hand rolls has been somewhat limited, but I am more of a traditionalist who prefers nigiri and sashimi to some of the stranger concoctions one finds in most Dallas sushi bars.

The only strange thing tonight was when an apparently well-lubricated diner at the sushi bar broke into an a capella rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" a few minutes before he left. But even then, the senior sushi chef applauded his customer's heartfelt expression, and most of the other patrons laughed.

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