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Sekisui review (long)

Hinman Guy | Nov 26, 200310:09 AM

We went to Sekisui last night, and were mostly very pleased.

It’s a great room. Entering, you face a huge glass waterfall, which does a nice job of setting apart the entrance from the dining areas. The décor is nice, somewhat sparse, with plenty of room between tables. The only negative is that there were 2 TVs (no sound, thankfully) in the sushi bar area. One tuned to college basketball, the other to the St. Louis Blues game. I didn’t notice anyone watching them, and they didn’t fit the rest of the décor.

The menu is quite varied. There is a long sushi list, nigiri, makimono, and plenty of special rolls. In addition, there are plenty of traditional Japanese cooked dishes, and a long list of more adventurous raw and cooked plates.

We tried:
Grilled Japanese eggplant. This was actually nothing like the grilled Japanese eggplant I’ve had elsewhere. This was grilled, and then served in a dashi broth. Very similar to an agedashi tofu, except that in place of fried tofu they used the grilled eggplant. Very good and I would think about getting it again.

New style sashimi with yellowtail. This was by far the best food of the night, and perhaps the best innovative sashimi I’ve ever had. Again, nothing like this dish when I’ve had it elsewhere. Elsewhere, I’ve had this served as pieces of hamachi sashimi served with a slight citrus sauce and thinly sliced halepeno peppers, and I’ve loved it. Here, it was several slices of sashimi, served with a partially grilled bone-in piece of the same fish, some daikon, some sprouts, and some shiso leaf. Ponzu sauce on the side. It was truly amazing to have the raw, the semi-raw, and the fully cooked yellowtail as part of the same dish, and the quality of the fish was outstanding. We devoured it.

Next, two disappointments: we had ordered the cooked black cod in sauce. Our order went in, and 15 minutes later the waitress came back to tell us they were out of it. I’m not sure why it takes 15 minutes to realize this, but ok. So we looked at a menu and I ordered the white tuna in yuzu butter. Again, the order goes in, and 20 minutes later (after the rest of our meal had come) she came back to tell us they were out of white tuna. At this point it was evident that I was annoyed, and the waitress was very apologetic, bringing me an extra sake on the house. This time, I decided not to try another special plate, just ordering more sushi.

We also had:
Red miso soup with mushroom: very good. The menu listed 3-4 types of miso, which is always nice.

Shrimp Tempura appetizer – very good but not too special. It was a generous portion of 4 shrimp and assorted vegetables.

Sushi: we ordered one of the combination plates, and it was very good. One tuna roll, amaebi, fresh eel, saltwater eel, clam, yellowtail, tuna, salmon, sea bass, plus a couple of other white fishes. I did not feel like they were padding the combination with leftover or cheaper pieces – no tamago, no octopus, no crabstick – this was a well put together plate with only very good fish on it. In addition, we ordered nigiri: salmon, scallop, and amaebi. Every piece of fish was great – very fresh, nicely cut, and tasty. The piece sizes were reasonable – not huge but not skimpy.

With the exception of the delays on the unavailable items, service was fine. The waitress was very friendly, apologetic when she brought bad news, and was happy to chat when I started talking to her. And an extra bottle of sake never hurts.

I will definitely go back. In my opinion, the quality of the fish was superior to Nippon Tei and Nobu’s, my other St. Louis favorites. And the list of specialty items leaves much to explore – if only they have the right things available next time I’m there.

As an ex-St. Louisan (now a Boston resident currently living in Chicago for school) I am pleasantly surprised to say this restaurant beats out nearly all of the Chicago and Boston sushi I’ve had.

Location: Sekisui is on South Grand, in the 3000 block.

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