A First Look at Sushi Bayashi, Which Opened Last Night in Trinity Groves

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Do you speak Trinity Groves? If you do, then you're well versed in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, southern American dialects, sweet nothings and ... beer. Well, as of last night you can add Japanese to that list, because Sushi Bayashi is officially open between Kitchen LTO and Resto Gastro Bistro.

Sushi Bayashi's blond-wooded, minimalist interior only serves to highlight the brightly hued hunks of fish displayed along the length of the sparse space. The only bits of decor are the long, communal tables, the panels of Japanese fabrics floating along the ceiling, the shelves of sake flanking the room and the chalkboards on the wall, where menu items are scrawled. It works because it makes chef/owner Yuki Hirabayashi's focus on fresh fish that much clearer, and because you're about to experience casual Japanese cuisine, where simplicity is -- rightfully -- king.

But in a town that celebrates what's hot, both figuratively and literally, Sushi Bayashi attempts to satisfy both by serving up bowls of ramen and noodle soup ($10 - $12) in the style of the chef's home in Tokyo. The menu also features appetizers like Japanese pumpkin "Tori Soboro," which is a bowl of diced chicken and pillowy-soft pumpkin served in a warm, sweet mirin-laced broth ($5), a pile of tempura-fried shrimp and vegetables for $10, and traditional Hamachi Kama, or grilled yellowtail collar, served with ponzu sauce ($12).

Turning the menu over reveals a long and varied list of sake priced from $8 to $120, a short list of wines available by the glass or bottle, and a Japanese-dominated beer list. Back on the savory side, the menu offers a selection of Japanese curries ($10 - $12) and even an option for Wazen ($18), which is a chef's choice of sorts, and sounds particularly exciting.

The sushi and sashimi list is standard, with quite reasonable pricing, particularly for the quality offered. There were a few inventive vegetarian sushi rolls, however, like the Japanese eggplant "Nasu" roll ($7) and a Japanese yam "Kanpyo" roll ($4.50), which really stood out. The fatty tuna sushi ("market price" was $10 per piece last night) was more than delightful. And be sure to try the house soy sauce, which we were told was a mixture of low sodium soy, mirin and sake. "It makes everything better," our server, Mai, told us. She was right.

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