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Friday, July 13, 2012

Food Friday: Samurai Sushi

Personally, I think Nashville lacks proper sushi places. Part of this is because we are landlocked and not near any fresh fish. The other part is that the southern pallette just might not be ready for raw fish. I say this because I've noticed a greater amount of cooked or fried fish in sushi rolls in the south, as well as a greater abundance of cream cheese and mayo on rolls. I'm not really used to all the sauces and fancy toppings that accompany southern sushi. But of all the less traditional sushi places in Nashville, Samurai is my favorite.

Its location near Vanderbilt and across from the venues on Elliston Place make it a popular dinner spot. I've been there for lunch and it was relatively quiet. Sometimes you have to wait to get a table or even a spot at the small sushi bar. We walked in on a Saturday night at 7:30 and got sat right away. What freak of nature allowed this to happen? Probably the fact that college students are not here for the summer and it was 107 degrees out. Recommendations to fellow diners: Go out to eat when it's hot. No one will be there.

The wait staff is friendly and fast. We were greeted with nice cold glasses of water when we sat down, an essential on a sweltering day. We filled out our sushi list and we received our food very quickly. They were working at supersonic speed. When your tummy is growling you are thankful for the prompt service.

Our order: Tamago, Dragon, Hawaiian, Sushi Burrito

Much like most of its southern relatives, Samurai sushi offers a variety of rolls that are deep fried or covered in sauces, mayo, or cream cheese. What makes Samurai different is that they do this heavy-handed sushi with a creative flair. Soy wrap paper? Kiwi, mango, strawberry? Nuts? They take these unconventional ingredients and create a lovely mix of sweet and savory. That mix just also happens to go well with tempura shrimp.

Steve waits patiently for dinner
I guess living in the south for the past 4 years has rubbed off on me, because we ordered three rolls that were finished with eel sauce. It is very sweet and probably terrible for you, but I love it much more than soy sauce (which I NEVER dip my sushi in). The sushi burrito is the prime example of southern encroachment in Japanese cuisine. It's basically a crab and avocado roll wrapped in soy paper shaped like a fat burrito. Despite how silly I feel ordering this, I always do. Why? It's delicious. Dumb name, tasty roll. The Hawaiian roll contains tempura shrimp, asparagus, soy paper and mango and nuts on top. I'm always wary of fruit in things that don't normally contain fruit- like salad. But while the verdict is still out on salad, fruit sushi won me over. Mango and eel sauce might be one of the most delicious combinations I've had. Perhaps I need to work on a mango cupcake with eel sauce frosting. Any takers?

The dragon roll was pretty standard. Eel and cucumber inside, avocado, roe and eel sauce outside.  The pieces of this roll were smaller compared to the others for some reason. But despite the diminutive roll size, the nice salty pop of the roe made me melt.

Steve learning how to order fish in Japanese

So yeah, Samurai is not traditional. The place isn't fancy and the sushi bar isn't huge. But it's a damn good place to get a few creative rolls. It's no wonder it was voted Best Sushi in Nashville by the Nashville Scene readers' poll last year. 

Samurai Sushi on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhhh yum. I've never heard of samurai sushi before! Flipping heck, you've made me hungry :)


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