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Restaurants & Bars

Indianapolis

Update on recent Indianapolis topics

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Restaurants & Bars 3

Update on recent Indianapolis topics

Rex Gai | Mar 2, 2004 11:07 AM

Firstly, illness has kept me away from the Hounders for about a half a year, so I missed a fair amount of kibitzing. Going back as far as November:

I) Asaka is, by far, my choice for Nipponese fare in Naptown. Why?

a) 100% Japanese staff from the owner thru the sushi chef to the wait staff. There's a reason why you see more Asians here by percentage than any other Japanese in town.

b) the waitrons are universally pleasantly solicitous & humble. Never patronizing, vapid, nor strident. They are extraordinarily gracious, make you feel welcome, almost like family. This is rare, and I've only found it at places like Greek Islands and Cafe Europa.

c) the sushi IS quite fresh if not as varied, though at times one can find unusual offerings in the line-up, such as spicy scallops. You don't see the wild and varied items such as the Hoosier Roll or the Conseco/Carlini Hand Roll or some such American bastardizations of the simple and elegant offerings found in wondrous sushi houses like Katsu in LA or Nobu in NYC. Granted, these are fun bites but a slap in the face of the cuisine one is seeking. They violate the feng chow.

d) the cooked viands are outta sight and always accompanied by little extras not advertised on the menu.

e) the space is Spartan, but oh so perfectly suited to the experience. By contrast, the other decent Japanese havens, Sakura (too dingy), Mikado (lovely but too impersonal, corporate &, well...faux), Ichiban (too quaint and cramped) & Ocean World (too pedestrian like a schoolroom cafeteria) don't pass muster. The other various places are either not authentic or consequential enough to matter. One promising newcomer in Fishers is Uki, but THAT name. The food is delish, but THAT name. I mean who wants to eat where it is ooky? H2O is in a class by itself, I like it, quite a lot, but I feel like it doesn't truly belong because it is more fusion than anything. And stratospherically pricey and somewhat pretentious in its semi-tony Ripple digs.

f) Granted that Japanese, especially their businessmen, smoke like chimneys. Asaka has made concessions for this, by providing a smoking room that is totally segregated from the regular dining area, making this an essentially smoke-free space, for all intents and purposes. I don't know about y'alls, but I find smoking and eating delicate foods don't mix. Surely, even the most ardent smoker would agree. Anyway any of the other major places with the exception of Uki, Ichiban & Mikado Cafe all allow smoking and within disgusting wafting distance of non-smoking serious diners.

II) As for downtown....how can the usual (and usually over-priced) suspects keep coming up over and over again and such great gems like Bosphorus and Don Victor's never get a citation? Not to mention John's Famous Stews? I also hear some good things about the various Tchopstix spots, but haven't made it to any of them yet. But outside of the few mentions of the humble Yat's, Shapiro's and both Greek enterprises (Santorini & Islands), all the other mainstay mentions are atmospherically costly, for THIS market at least, and most are pretentious to boot.

III) A word about the Greeks: When Taki & Jeanette first opened their charmer in Fountain Square, we LOVED it, when you showed up, you was treated as folks, the room was cozy and, well, very Aegian, what with its rustic white walls and lovely splashes of blue hither and yon. And the food....oh, my, as Taki puts it, the pita is the best because it is made with love (translated: loads of butter with a dash of great olive oil and a touch of garlic). Same goes for the best spanakopita south of Mediterrano Cafe. Ditto the galaktobouriko, well, sans the garlic & oil.BUT!!!! The new digs? Are so impersonal and unlovely. And when we visited, Jeanette, who normally greets us with the warmest smile and cheer, was as aloof as could be. The food wasn't as top-flight as before either, with only the baba ganoujh was to standards. And that parking lot sucks, especially if you are handicapped. Major jeers for the transformation. I understand growth & the need for rolling with the numbers, but this is retrogress. Compared to slightly less spectacular (but more consistent to be sure) food and superlative atmosphere at the tried n true Greek Islands, where Angie & George Stergiopolous go out of their way to make each diner feel like Greccian royalty, if not a member of their extended family. This is NOT hyperbole, one need only walk in once to experience this for oneself.

IV) as for my recent cry to eschew the chains in favor of the locals, here are the locals who've given up the host in the last 12 months (and these are only the one's for which I am familiar):

V-Twin Cafe
The Pidge
Tavola di Tosa
Tosa Euro Cafe
Yummy
La Cabana
Brother Juniper's
Bill Simpson's Flat Top
Old Mudsock Cafe
Las Brisas (no great loss)
Shaffer's
Guayacan
Illusions
Peter's
Chops
Bistro 936
Charly Dog's
Mykynos
Bangkok
Hana Grill
Queen of Sheba
L'Opera (no great loss)
Bacco
The Majestic Oyster Bar
Fishers Junction (no great loss)
Hambones Cafe
Calypso
Lotus Asian Bistro
Deeter's & Gabe's
Henry Grattan Pub
Ruthellen's
Tokyo Gourmet Buffet
The Blue Heron
Delafield's
Renee's
Fireside South
Corky's
Adam's
Henry Grattan Pub
Deeter's & Gabe's
Casio's
Di Lago
Koreana

Link: http://www.greekislandsrestaurant.com

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