By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Aha! I had been puzzled by all the awards the chain has received in other cities, but now it was clear—RA is a place for people who don't want good, authentic sushi but who want to be seen eating "sushi." Because sushi is commonplace now, it's uncool not to eat it. RA has tapped into this fact and targeted their market. And this accounts for the awkward pairings, the excess of mango and other trendy ingredients, and the widescreens that seem to account for more space than the sushi bar.
With the proper mindset now adopted, we dove headfirst into spicy miso. Sriracha, bok choy and shrimp made for some interesting additions to the classic broth, and that's not a bad thing. The soup was a tasty base for our meal, but the large hot pot makes sharing necessary if it's not ordered as an entrée.
Beef bowl and tempura were easy choices. Hard to eff up, the two dishes are legendary hangover remedies. Beef gristle aside, the dishes weren't offensive, and my dining buddy and I both enjoyed them, proving, at least, the occasional nod to tradition pays off.
Pork gyoza $6
Lobster spring rolls $9.75
Vegetable tempura $6.75
Miso hot! soup $6.50
Beef bowl $8.75
Viva Las Vegas roll $12.75
Yellow monkey roll $10
Pacific roll $9.75
The Viva Las Vegas roll was just OK; the crispy lotus root on top was a nice touch, but the cream cheese proved too rich along with kani kama, tempura batter, spicy tuna and crab mix. Two pieces of the roll were very filling.
The Pacific roll was so bad we set it aside after one bite. Though gorgeous in presentation (bright beet tempura flakes on top of yellow mango—yes, mango—made for a stunning contrast), the albacore-jalapeño-cucumber-avocado-mango-nut mix ended up slightly chewed and then pushed into the cheek until I could get a sip to wash it down. It just didn't work. For such a beautiful dish, the flavor was, well, gawky.
Of my time at RA Sushi, the dishes that succeeded were the ones that stayed true to proven flavor profiles. Gyoza, beef bowl, tempura and nigiri sushi didn't pander to nouveau or faux riche looking for nouveau or faux culture. Dishes that did were silly and off-putting, experiments in mixing popular ingredients gone awry.
As we were leaving, I noticed one of the RA T-shirts with a sexed-up double entendre on a buser (naturally, you can buy them, RA thongs and other merch at the restaurants). And that's when I realized where RA really fucked up: They threw out all the grace, seduction and passion of Japanese cuisine and culture and opted for the overt, the easy access, the embarrassing. How awkward.
7501 Lone Star Drive, Plano, 469-467-7400. Open 11 a.m-midnight daily. $$-$$$