Sake Sushi is greater Shreveport’s newest sushi hangout, branching out to our corner of the state after a successful stint in Alexandria. They market themselves as “Japanese Cuisine, Sushi Bar, and Asian Fusion,” and I will venture to guess that the “fusion” comes from the fusing of traditional Japanese methods with California-style sushi and the addition of a few local ingredients.
For those uninitiated, fusion cuisine refers to a method wherein two cuisines are “fused” to introduce new flavors and dishes. Asian fusion is the most popular in recent years (Chinese fused with Vietnamese, Thai fused with Indian, etc.), but any two cuisines can be fused; the possibilities are endless and create very exciting prospects.
Most sushi we eat here in the U.S. is what is called “California-” or “Western-style” sushi. These are blanket terms for the now-ubiquitous rolls that show up on every sushi menu: Dynamite Roll, Rainbow Roll, and Spider Roll are a few common offerings. These were created to suit the Western palate (after all, Japanese women don’t stay thin eating sushi drenched in mayonnaise) and often feature cooked ingredients, various sauces, and cream cheese alongside raw fish and vegetables. Still, Western Sushi has its place, and it serves as a “sky’s-the-limit” canvas to create innovative, bizarre, and delicious combinations.
Traditional Japanese sushi has a long and complex history, but, in the interest of brevity, I will say that it generally focuses on uncomplicated flavors and fresh cuts of raw fish. The closest Western eaters may come to authentic sushi is through Nigiri, a mound of sushi rice with fish draped over it, or Maki, which are simple, unadorned hand rolls. The customer that opts for these choices will be rewarded with (if the fish is good), a buttery, rich, clean-tasting cut of fish that often tastes nothing like the cooked version of itself. For those of you that are afraid to try raw fish: with all due respect, you are doing yourselves a grave disservice. Fish only tastes “fishy” or “slimy” if it’s gone bad, and sushi restaurants pride themselves on quality and food safety. Sushi chefs are schooled for years to learn the proper handling and preparation of fish–it’s not an occupation taken lightly, and it shows. If it’s your first time, try a fish you’re already familiar with: salmon and tuna are sound and tasty options. Good fish is firm, gorgeous, and tastes faintly of the ocean; it’s a flavor you won’t soon forget and will eventually come to crave.
Now that the lesson is over, let’s move on to the review, shall we? Sake Sushi is decorated in that fancy-yet-disjointed way that sushi restaurants usually are; beautiful components come together but something is still…off about it. No matter, the atmosphere, aided by a fountain near the kitchen door, is tranquil and relaxing. My companion and I examined the menu hungrily, but our server seemed distracted. There were three other parties in the entire restaurant, and with two servers on duty, we weren’t sure what the holdup was. We waited for about ten minutes until she finally made her way over to take our drink and salad orders. Perhaps the sound of our gurgling stomachs echoing off the polished floors tipped her off?
I ordered my “usual” seaweed salad, and my partner chose a squid salad, which had been getting good reviews from other diners before us. They arrived quickly and were delicious. My seaweed salad was just the way I like it: the salty seaweed converged with the tangy rice wine vinegar and, needless to say, it was devoured quickly. One might think it would be difficult to ruin a dish with only a few ingredients, but you’d be very, very surprised. Luckily Sake hit the mark. My partner’s squid salad was similarly delightful: tender, non-chewy squid married with heady ginger for a light, appetite-whetting dish. I remarked that the squid didn’t even taste like flesh; instead it resembled a fruit or vegetable. My partner agreed.
Our sushi arrived in a timely manner–we each got a Western-style roll in varieties unique to Sake. My partner ordered a Spicy Girl Roll which featured pepper-crusted tuna, scallions, avocado, and masago (a small fish related to smelt), and then topped with snow crab, shichimi (a chili powder), and seaweed powder. Sweet, light, and creamy without the aid of sauce, it hit the spot and was exactly what we were looking for. I opted for the BMW Roll: fresh salmon, tuna, and avocado with white and pepper tuna and roe served with spicy mayo, wasabi sauce and eel sauce. The “meat” of the roll was enjoyable, but I should have stopped when I saw the sauces: all three blended together for a soggy cacophony of flavors. I was disappointed in my choice, but my partner’s Spicy Girl Roll was encouraging.
When check time came, we were both dismayed to find we had dropped around $50 (gratuity included) on what appeared to be a light lunch. We’ve been to many sushi bars together and agreed that this was on the steep side, even for premium ingredients. Cheaper options include classic teriyaki plates ($7-$10) and bento boxes, which are filling and offer a variety of the restaurant’s offerings in sample-sized portions.
Barring the wallet-lightening aspect, Sake Sushi was a satisfactory experience, even with the kinks of a new restaurant. If you’re on Youree and have a hankering for a little far-East flavor, Sake will do the trick; but I think Bossier’s offerings (Sushiko at the Boardwalk and California Avocado on Airline Drive) are better options, both price- and service-wise.
7511 Youree Drive (behind Buffalo Wild Wings and Newk’s)