By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Yet what lights the imagination at Sura is the slightly twisted simplicity of the cuisine. Gool bi gui, or broiled dried corbina fish, is a pair of whole fish, slightly breaded, slumbering on the plate as if relaxing after a hard day dodging shark teeth, and they live up to their wholeness nobly. Combing through the meat--which is moist and sweet--after peeling back the belly skin, you'll discover a bulbous creamy-gray organ glistening like a fat oyster. Was this gut left intact for the rich flavor it imparts?
This is why our server's reaction to our request for Korean steak tartare seemed strange. "You know what that is?" she asked. Hmm. Raw ground alpaca flanks?
This tartare is seriously red--deep and saturated. The tartare is not ground steak, but beef cut into thick strips, soaked in a spicy red sauce, fashioned into a ruddy mound. It's crowned with a raw egg, the yellow yolk making the hump look like a jaundiced bloodshot eyeball. Pieces of shredded garlic ring the glistening yellow. Surrounding the mound are dense stacks of thin pear and zucchini slivers, alternating in thick, stunted green and white stripes around the plate.
Perhaps the meat is sliced for chopstick utility. Yet what it lacks is the elegant, tender richness that makes steak tartare so sublime. It's tough and chewy, sown with strident sinewy stretches. The sauce makes a good stab at a recovery, throwing off gusts of heat and tang to frame and enliven the meat, but the effort falters.
Like many Korean restaurants in far West Dallas, Sura is studded with Japanese fare. There are sushi and sashimi plates and teriyaki in addition to the miso on the salad bar. Salmon teriyaki is not the typical fillet, grilled and brushed with unctuous sauce. This is a heap of bell peppers, zucchini, carrot and onions with a thick fillet buried within. Carrots are tough. The salmon is more of a hunk than a narrow fillet, and perhaps on account of its size, the cooking is uneven. It has dry, overcooked patches along with spots that are spongy and undercooked. Still other areas perfectly straddle these two extremes. Yet the dish is bland and watery. The teriyaki sauce is weak, almost imperceptible.
Sura veers sharply from typical Dallas dining paths so thoroughly beaten; a trajectory to another dining dimension, where fish are cooked whole in the literal sense at the same time quaint warnings are issued on the true nature of steak tartare. What could be more appetizing? 2240 Royal Lane, 214-243-5656. Open daily 10:30 a.m.-midnight. $$-$$$