By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
The new spicy crunch roll played up to its name—a more slender, near foot-long roll containing tempura-fried shrimp, avocado, cucumber and spicy tuna. The roll was covered in what our server referred to as "crunchies," a combination of tempura crumbs and panko breadcrumbs. Our server suggested a change from chili sauce droplets to spicy mayo and the suggestion proved a wonderful one that, once again, aided the flavor instead of covering it up. The roll swerved across the plate with drizzles, dots and a levee of "crunchies," and the plating was so exquisite it both begged for tasty destruction and made us feel guilty for ruining the presentation.
Oishi fries (a plate of breaded and deep-fried soft shell crab and nori-wrapped unagi eel) are a great suggestion for those intimidated by raw fish but still in search of something Japanese-ish. The bits of both crab and eel were not greasy at all. The addition of the nori, thin sheets of dried seaweed, to the eel made for a succinct two-bite nugget light in its breading but rich in succulent meat.
Continuing with the sparse selection of cooked dishes, the chicken teriyaki was an overall success. The mildly sweet teriyaki sauce was not applied with heavy hand, and the chicken was tender and juicy. The accompanying sautéed veggies were crunchy and well-seasoned, the slight sear providing a wonderful brown edge here and there. The gyoza (dumplings) were a lovely golden brown, deep-fried instead of pan-seared. While they had little to no greasiness, the primary flavor came from the dipping sauce.
Chicken teriyaki $12.95
Oishi fries $14.95
Yellow tail sushi $5.25
Scallop sushi $4.95
Caribbean roll $15.95
Wasabi roll $10.95
New spicy crunch roll $11.95
Ice cream sushi roll special $8.95
Even the spider roll proved more flavorful than the Tokyo roll, however, which was simply an exercise in spice. The O-yama roll was a basic California roll with a clump of jalapeños hiding out in the corner and slices of tuna and shrimp lounging on the top. Both are easy to bypass in favor of another roll or some sashimi...often beautifully applied to a hill of snowy ice.
Along with our sushi, we tried beer as well as a lovely cold sake (during a weekend visit a large table of revelers joined the friendly chefs and spunky owner for a round of rowdy sake bombs—apparently a restaurant favorite) but found the iced green tea to be the most satisfying companion.
Our final meal at Sakana ended with a daily dessert special of a tempura roll of vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce. Simple enough, but extremely airy and flavorful at the same time. The tempura was cloud light, with a blond, crunchy exterior that slowly surrendered to the melting of the ice cream.
It's the surprising nature of Sushi Sakana that really makes it a wonderful little Japanese gem in an annoying American strip mall. It's the striking plating; owner Sue Cook's sincere greeting to each table; the sushi chefs' diligence; the fun, creative items mixed with traditional—all paying tribute to that innovative country in the East. It's the small steps that draw Texans into the wonderful world of succulent, fresh raw fish. It's a labor-of-love restaurant opened a year and a half ago that will hopefully be around much longer than three, strip mall be damned.3000 Custer Road, Suite 110, Plano, 972-398-1790. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Sundays. $$$