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Jacky Chan Sushi

4 Jul

Just when you thought the sushi boom in Wichita had hit critical mass, along comes Jacky Chan Sushi. This tiny place opened up in the spring of 2014 at Central and Oliver, replacing the small building that formerly housed Sit@Thai Express. What caught my attention about this place was the fact that the sushi chef(who goes by Jacky Chan) had previously worked at Kwan Court, one of our most missed former restaurants.

Hot and Sour Soup: Can't Complain About Free Soup

Hot and Sour Soup: Can’t Complain About Free Soup

This is an intimate setting with only a few tables in the small dining area. It is a nice change of pace from other sushi joints in town that rely on loud music and an open seating area for ambiance. The menu features a lot of options, but is not as overwhelming as some sushi menus that take several hours to fully comprehend. Jacky Chan also does not go overboard with the crazy deep fried rolls. While there are certainly some creative dishes, there is also a respect for the simplicity of traditional sushi. If someone in your group is not into sushi there are several fried rice dishes, noodle bowls, and even Pho for them.

During our lunch time visit we could not pass up the Kansas roll. This sushi roll was one of our favorites at Kwan Court so we were pleased to see Jacky was offering it. We also ordered both the A and B Sushi lunch options to get a good sampler of what they had to offer.

Nothing Says Kansas Like Steak Sushi

Nothing Says Kansas Like Steak Sushi

While waiting for our meals to come out, our waitress brought us each a sample of their Hot and Sour soup. I am not one to complain about free soup, so I happily consumed this impressive bowl of sliced bamboo, eggs, mushrooms,tofu, and carrots with a nice gingery kick. Next out was the Kansas Maki Roll which consisted of grilled steak, crab,and  lettuce. While the steak was overdone(which seems strange to say at a sushi place), the maki roll was still as good as the Kwan Court version. After we polished off the Kansan our lunch specials came out. Both featured two different maki rolls, several pieces of nigiri(thinly sliced raw fish and a ball of rice), and large ball of sushi rice with some fish roe. My favorites were the unagi(freshwater eel) with a sweet glaze and the Philly maki. The most

Lunch Sushi Combo B

Lunch Sushi Combo B

interesting offering was the egg sushi. It was basically a Japanese omelet, which is denser and sweeter than the American version, perched atop sushi rice. The texture was a bit odd, but I enjoyed trying something new. I thought the raw fish samples where about as good as you can find here in Wichita. For $10 the sushi lunch was a good deal for some basic and simple sushi. Next time I would like to try some of the other specialty rolls that looked interesting.

As we were leaving the restaurant, I happened to notice Jacky Chan himself was out in the back of the building scaling a fine looking fish. Although I’m sure the health department wouldn’t be too impressed, I was. I’m sure that same scene takes place every day in Japan. There is plenty of competition in Wichita when it comes to sushi and I think I will have to give Jacky’s another try before I pass ultimate judgement.

Jacky Chan Sushi on Urbanspoon

Ninza Sushi Bar

5 Dec

For being in a landlocked state, Wichita has a fairly decent sushi scene. Over the last several years the additions of Wasabi and Kanai have really raised the bar for what diners expect in their raw and delicious Japanese fare. Ninza, which opened earlier this year is making a name for itself as another solid sushi option. Tucked away in a strip mall at Tyler and 13th, Ninza is not very visible from the main roads, but  just drive around the parking lot for a while and you’ll find it. Inside the restaurant is an open floor plan with the option of sitting at the sushi bar for your meal. The atmosphere at Ninza is a bit more laid back compared to other sushi joints. The music was not blaring and the noise level was tolerable.

The Snow Coconut Roll

The Snow Coconut Roll

While looking over the menu I noticed that the quantity of  Ninza’s offerings were not quite as daunting as others can be. Nothing is more frustrating than turning through pages of complex maki rolls trying to figure out what in the world to order. Ninza offers a good variety of classic, baked, and tempura maki rolls as well as sashimi.  Some of the maki rolls are rather creative utilizing such ingredients as fried garlic, cream cheese, mozzarella, and peanut butter. Besides sushi, Ninza offers some unique appetizers and salads including a Japanese burrito, deep fried jalapeno with cream cheese, pickled octopus salad, and salmon skin salad. For those that for some reason don’t order sushi at a sushi restaurant there are a couple of options, but not many. On our visit we decided to try three different maki rolls starting with the classic California roll, a baked Snow Coconut roll, and a tempura Honey Stone roll. We also ordered one of their specials that night, ramen style noodles. The California was average and

Real Ramen Noodles: No Microwave Needed

Real Ramen Noodles: No Microwave Needed

was certainly overshadowed by the other two rolls. The Honey Stone was very similar to the Stonehenge that is available at Wasabi. It had fried crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, and cream cheese. Although it was not as good as the Stonehenge it was a nonetheless delightful. The Snow Coconut was my favorite of the night. The roll consisted of shrimp tempura, coconut flakes, peanut butter, avocado, crab, and cilantro. While this combination may sound questionable it was actually very good. It reminded me of deconstructed  Thai peanut sauce with the coconut, peanut butter, and cilantro playing nicely together. The large plate of ramen noodles was a hit with our son, although much of it ended up on the floor when he decided he needed to use chopsticks. The noodles were tossed in a light sauce with a few sautéed veggies. My only complaint was that pickled ginger and wasabi paste did not come with each roll. I enjoy clearing out my sinuses with some wasabi. I wish Ninza were closer to our house because it is another good option for sushi in town. Hopefully we will head back soon to try some of the more exotic appetizers and salads they have to offer as well as the roll  served in a ring of fire. Just check out some of their pictures on Facebook if you need any more convincing to visit. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ninza-Sushi-Bar/487908747938606 Ninza Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Oh Yeah! China Bistro

18 Nov

When most people think of  the Americanized version of Chinese food, visions of buffets and those little white cardboard boxes come to mind. Fortunately there are many restaurants in Wichita where diners can enjoy fresh made American Chinese food that has not been sitting for an extended period of time at the Dillons Chinese Kitchen(although they do have damn good crab rangoon). Oh Yeah! China Bistro, located just north of 29th and Rock, is one such restaurant.

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

At the risk of sounding blasphemous Oh Yeah! reminded me of the late great Kwan Court, at least from an ambiance prospective. The interior is certainly more upscale than most Chinese restaurants in town and there is plenty of seating. Much to our son’s delight they already had their Christmas tree up and a big laughing buddha statue.

Calling themselves a Chinese Bistro is somewhat misleading because the menu is a greatest hits of Asian cuisine. Besides a comprehensive list of Chinese dishes there are Korean, Thai, and Japanese items. If you want Panang Curry and your dining partner wants Udon noodles you are in luck. The menu is also very accommodating for vegetarians as many of the dishes can be ordered without meat or with a tofu substitute. In addition to the food options, Oh Yeah offers a plethora of fresh juices and teas. Most main dishes range from $8-$15 making Oh Yeah on the pricier side of most Asian places in town.

Honey Shrimp

Honey Shrimp

On our visit we started off with an order of pan fried pork dumplings and for our main dishes I had the Egg Foo Young and Steph went with the Honey Shrimp. The pan fried dumplings were an excellent way to start the meal. The outside was slightly crispy, while the rest of the dumpling was very tender. The filling of pork and mushrooms was good and a soy and ginger dipping sauce added additional flavors to the dish. The honey shrimp dish came with an ample amount of shrimp and just a few broccoli florets. While the honey sauce was tasty, the shrimp were breaded too

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

heavily for our liking. We were hoping that it would be more tempura style, similar to a dish at the old Kwan Court. My order of Egg Foo Young tasted as good as it looked. The base was a large omelet that was piled high with stir fried beef, chicken, shrimp, and veggies. The sauce was on the sweet side, but had a nice touch of spiciness to it as well. It’s not too often that I can’t finish my meal, but this large portion left me asking for a to go box.

While we thought that Oh Yeah! was a bit overpriced, for the most part the food was good. If you want to enjoy Asian food in a more upscale environment with a bottle of wine perhaps Oh Yeah! is worth trying out.
http://www.ohyeahchinabistro.com/index.html

Oh Yeah China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Golden Bay

12 Jan

When you think of hole-in-the-wall restaurants Sushi places don’t often come to mind. For some reason most Sushi houses in Wichita are high energy places with music blaring and trendy interior design. Golden Bay, tucked away in a strip mall at West St. and 13th St. is bucking that trend.

Great Buy One Get One Sushi!

Great Buy One Get One Sushi!

A small dining area and soothing classical music offer a nice change of pace compared to other Sushi places in town.

On the lunch menu at Golden Bay is a non-overwhelming list of maki rolls, some sashimi, as well as other Japanese favorites including tempura veggies, noodle bowls, and bento boxes. If you are unfamiliar with a bento box, I strongly urge you to get to the nearest Japanese restaurant and order one of these magical boxes. While looking over the sushi choices on the lunch menu I noticed that all maki rolls were buy one get one free(I believe this is true for the dinner menu as well)! With this in mind we ordered one Kamikaze roll and one other roll that I forget the name of now. In addition we ordered a chicken teriyaki meal.

The sushi came with a tasty bowl of miso soup, while the lunch box was served with a small salad with a nice Asian style dressing. Both maki rolls that we ordered were very good. This fish and shrimp tasted fresh while the rice was firm and sticky. Covered with a sweet sauce, the fried Kamikaze roll was our favorite.  The teriyaki bento box was most impressive as well. The teriyaki sauce covering the chicken was a dark and gelatinous concoction sprinkled with sesame seeds. A true work of art that melded sweet and salty flavors perfectly. The rest of the goodies included steamed rice,

Top Notch Chicken Teriyake

Top Notch Chicken Teriyake

various tempura veggies, a California roll, a couple of dumplings, and a nice slice of orange to top off a well balanced meal.

Although Golden Bay does not look like much from the outside, inside you will find some top notch sushi and Japanese food. I still think Kanai has the best sushi in Wichita, but Golden Bay is right up there. And for all you Cali roll junkies out there they offer a 10 roll deal for $26.

Golden Bay on Urbanspoon

Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato(Sushi and Gelato Under One Roof)

9 Apr

Lured in by a coupon offering free gelato with the purchase of a meal we tried the 3 in 1 eatery Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato the other day. Fusa is located in a strip mall just north of Kellogg and Greenwich. Apparently its original location was in the Towne East Mall, but since I try to avoid that place at all costs, it’s new to me. The owner of Fusa is the same person who opened the iconic Kwan Court and luckily he brought back an old favorite to serve at Fusa. I speak of the honey crispy walnut shrimp, one of my all time favorite dishes.

The Famous Crispy Walnut Shrimp

Fusa is set up much like a mall food court, with several counters offering different cuisines. There is Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, sushi, pasta, burgers, and last but not least, Gelato to top it all off. If you have picky eaters in your group there should be something at Fusa that will satisfy their needs. Ordering was a no brainer for Steph and I, we went with the honey crispy walnut shrimp and the honey crispy walnut chicken. Both dishes came served atop a bed of steamed rice(fried rice available upon request), with plenty of shrimp/chicken. The honey walnut sauce, while not quite on par with the Kwan Court version, was still very good. Coupled with some decent fried shrimp and chicken it was a satisfying meal.

After finishing our lunch we walked to the back of the restaurant where the coolers of gelato( Italian ice cream) are located. Unfortunately there were many delicious flavors, so making a decision was rather difficult. I finally settled on pistachio and Steph was won over by the salted caramel. Our single serving cups were piled high with the creamy frozen treats. We were both pleased with our respective gelato, although it was not as good as Caffe Moderne’s.

A Heaping Cup of Caramel Gelato

If you are looking for a place where you can get your teriyaki chicken and quesadilla fix at the same time Fusa is a good option. Even if you’re not interested in multi-ethnic dining, the large gelato selection is worth checking out.

Chill Gelato * Fusa * Red 8 Chinese on Urbanspoon

Wasabi and Old Town Sushi Bar by Wasabi

21 Dec

NOTE: Since the time of this review we have visited both the north Rock and Old Town Wasabi locations and have never been disappointed. Our favorite roll is the Stonehenge, a mammoth deep fried roll filled with crab, avocado, shrimp tempura, cream cheese and topped with masago.

Although Wasabi has had an Old Town location open in Wichita for a while, it took the opening of an eastside location for us to finally make a visit. About a month ago Wasabi opened up on North Rock Rd. in the old Bossa Grill location. They did a decent amount of renovation to the restaurant space, adding a Sushi Bar and Japanese styling to the interior as well as the obligatory TV that for some reason was tuned to the Chiefs game. We had a large group with us on a Sunday afternoon, but luckily the restaurant was fairly slow. Perhaps that is why there was some loud music coming out of their sound system. I don’t know what is with some of these trendy Sushi places(Ahem, Sumo) and their proclivity to play loud annoying music, but Wasabi was jamming it out on this particular afternoon.

The Stonehenge: A Don’t Miss Maki Roll

Perusing the menu at Wasabi was a rather daunting task. They have a very extensive list of sushi and maki rolls including many specialty rolls to choose from. Besides sushi, Wasabi also offers other Japanese and Asian dishes such as yakisoba noodles, bul go gi, bi bim bab, and teriyaki plates. I was feeling adventurous and decided to order the 10 Piece Chef’s Choice Sushi and California Roll dinner. Steph decided to try a non-sushi dish and ordered the Tempura Shrimp Udon Noodles. My meal came out with a wide variety of sushi present. I had crab, salmon, tuna, and halibut pieces that were all rather tasty. My Cali roll was served with shredded crab meat, instead of the typical chunks, and was equally delicious. Steph and I both enjoyed her large-portioned shrimp and noodle bowl, although the shrimp were a touch overdone. It had a good mix of veggies and shrimp with the right amount of sauce. The portions at Wasabi are large, which enabled me to sample some other rolls that our party had ordered. By far the best one I had was the Stone Henge, a giant roll stuffed with crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, and cream cheese. If that weren’t enough it was deep fried and topped with a sweet masago sauce. This is definitely a roll you can’t miss when paying a visit to Wasabi. Toward the end of our meal the waiter brought out two dishes that were compliments of the chef. He gave us a raw tuna salad and a beautifully crafted ball of thinly sliced avocado that was stuffed with a crab mixture. I believe it was called an Avocado Ball and I highly recommend it.

Overall I was impressed with Wasabi. It is certainly a good value as far as sushi goes. Their rolls are large and reasonably priced. If you order a side salad and some miso soup you have a filling meal for around $15 dollars. While I still give the edge in Wichita sushi to Kanai, it is a good option for the eastside of town.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant - East on Urbanspoon

Sumo-Wichita KS (The best sushi in Wichita?)

19 Oct

Phil and I had a reason to celebrate recently and figured  lunch at the ever so trendy Sumo would be a good idea, plus we had a groupon.  Sumo is located at 13th and Webb and is a place where you have a choice of feasting on sushi or being entertained by knife juggling cooks at one of the several Habachi grill areas in the restaurant. Sumo has a very modern look to it with large glass windows, dim lighting, and odd chain curtains. As we walked in for lunch we quickly realized why Sumo was offering groupons for  weekday lunch. There were only three other tables in the entire restaurant. I know they attract a much larger crowd for dinner and lunch on the weekends. We were quickly seated and given a sushi menu to order from while we enjoyed the loud, angry rapping of Eminem. Certainly not the typical lunch background music, and bit too much for the delicate experience of eating sushi if you ask me.

On this occasion, Phil and I went with the Cali 10 Roll, Kansas Roll, Prosciutto Shrimp Roll,  Spider Roll and a side of brown rice for good measure. The Cali 10 is your basic California Roll that is then dipped in Tempura batter and fried. We ordered this one to give us comparison to Kanai’s Crunchy Cali Roll. Sumo’s was good, I enjoyed it, but Kanai has the leg up on this one. The Kansas Roll includes a piece of beef tenderloin, sprouts, and avocado. Kwan Court did a Kansas roll as well but served it with crab meat.  I prefer it with the crab but once again this roll was good. The Prosciutto Shrimp included prosciutto, shrimp, asparagus, and cream cheese. I was a bit leery of this one initially due to the flavor combinations. After a few more pieces, I realized it was a dang tasty roll. The last roll was the Spider Roll which has soft-shell crab tempura, masago, and avocado. This ended up being our favorite roll of the meal. The chunks of crab were large and fried nicely. I usually prefer rolls that don’t have too many ingredients so that I can enjoy each one. Overall, our sushi was very good and we enjoyed it, but we are going to have to say that we prefer Kanai’s sushi over Sumo both for taste and price. Our tab ended up being around $45 and I ordered water to drink. Sumo definitely deserves a nod in the honorable mentions, but we have to give the best sushi in ICT to Kanai.

Be prepared for long waits in the evenings and weekends if going during prime dining hours because Sumo can be a hot spot. If you are in a hurry and don’t mind some auditory abuse, we definitely suggest a weekday lunch. With the addition of Wasabi on the East side of town, Sumo has lost its top spot in my opinion.

<a href=”http://Sumo Japanese Grill on Urbanspoon“>

Hana Cafe-Wichita KS

13 Aug

To commiserate the last day of summer break Steph was in the mood for sushi, so we headed to Hana Cafe. Hana is located in Old Town Square which happens to be a great place for chain free restaurants. You have Hana, Imbiss, Sabor, Caffe Moderne, and Lucca all in one convenient  location. This was our first time visiting Hana since its recent renovation and we were impressed with the changes, although the entrance looks like you are going into a dance club.

As you enter the normal glass door from the sidewalk you find yourself in a small entry area with a windowless door that must be passed through in order to feast on Asian delights. Upon entering we were met with an upscale looking interior with a bar and divided dining area. They had clearly done quite a bit of expansion and renovation to the former space. We were seated in one of the oversized booths and began our menu deliberations.

We decided to try one of their Korean specialties, Bi Bim Bap as well as  some maki sushi. Hana cafe offers a “bento box” lunch special which is like the Japanese version of a frozen dinner except that it’s not frozen and it doesn’t taste like steamed socks. You simply pick from one of several maki rolls and it comes served in a  partitioned box that includes and egg roll, salad, and steamed rice. We ordered a shrimp tempura roll with our bento box and tried a crunchy California roll as well. The shrimp  tempura roll was fine, but nothing spectacular. The crunchy Cali roll was very good served with a sweet sauce drizzled over the top. The best part of the meal was the Bi Bim Bap, which is a Korean dish with rice, eggs, spinach,  carrots, sprouts, and your choice of meat. It is also served with a bowl of moderately spicy sauce on the side. This sauce must be mixed in with the rest of the food to get the full experience. I really liked the Bi Bim Bap, but Steph thought it was a bit too spicy for her.

Wichita has an ever growing list of sushi places and I think that Hana is one of the better ones. They do not have as large a selection as other places, but their prices are reasonable and their proximity to delicious gelato at Caffe Moderne are big pluses. Don’t forget about their Korean dishes because they are solid choices as well. So the next time you are preparing for a wild night of clubbing, just head toward all the pretty lights of Old Town Square and check out one of the aforementioned chain free places.

Hana Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kanai-Wichita KS(A Near O.D. on Sushi)

9 Jul

We were looking for a special restaurant for our anniversary recently and had narrowed it down to two West side places. Unfortunately, our first choice must not have any working clocks in their establishment, because they were closed when we arrived 30 minutes before their listed closing time. Luckily we had Kanai as our back-up, a place we have been wanting to check out for a while. Kanai is a newer Japanese and Sushi restaurant located way out there at 119th and Maple. In its short time in Wichita, Kanai has quickly become one of the best places to get sushi and it is easy to see why.

As we walked into the nearly empty restaurant we were promptly greeted by the hostess as well as the Sushi chefs. The restaurant is nicely decorated on the interior with a small bar as well as a sushi bar on one side. The other side has a mix of tables and booths for your sitting pleasure. The only TV in the place was playing a soothing tropical fish DVD. That really set the mood. Our waitress brought out a sample of their Japanese version of chicken salad with fried tofu and sesame oil flavor. It was a nice start to our meal. Their menu covers a lot of bases as far as Japanese and sushi dishes are concerned. The sushi menu is rather expansive and has many unique maki rolls, including one that features a whole lobster tail. We had a difficult time deciding which maki rolls to go with, but soon narrowed it down to 4. We decided to try the crunchy California roll, a snowcrab and avocado roll(Dragon roll), a tempura shrimp and asparagus roll, and the snowball roll which featured asparagus and a crab mixture on top. We also ordered some tempura calamari because we were both pretty hungry.

While we sipped on $8 dollar cocktails our food was prepared by several sushi chefs. The calamari was brought out first in a large bowl. This was not your typical little rings of squid, there were nice thick strips that had been fried in a delicious tempura batter. A scallion sauce was drizzled over the tempura for added flavor. We both enjoyed the dish, but wished the sauce would have been served on the side because some the calamari got a bit soggy. Our sushi came out soon after we had finished the calamari. Two large platters were placed before us with 4 large rolls of unparalleled beauty begging us to devour them. I started off with the snowball roll and was impressed. The crunchiness of the asparagus complemented the creamy crab mixture which was elegantly placed on top of the roll. The tempura shrimp roll was very good as well with fresh asparagus balancing the fried shrimp nicely. Next was the Dragon roll which was excellent and good-sized. It was topped with a delicious sweet sauce with bits of what our server told us was Unagi. Unagi is freshwater eel, but don’t let that turn you off from this roll. With the sauce there is no real discernible flavor from the eel. Just think of it as a mushroom. The final roll was a colossal California roll that had been dipped in tempura batter to make it warm and crunchy. It came out as six huge pieces that required some fine skill to eat with chopsticks. It was wonderful of course. The most impressive part of our dinner was the sushi rice. Sometimes when attempting to dip the piece of sushi into soy sauce and shove in your mouth the piece has a tendency to fall apart. None of these rolls did that, because the rice was perfect. I have read that the real hardcore sushi chefs of Japan study for years to learn the art of making sticky sushi rice and I think the chef at Kanai has done that. His rice was perfection.

While consuming all this delightful food I became increasingly aware that my stomach was reaching capacity. I tried to wiggle into the corner of the booth in an effort to ease the pressure, but there was no denying the power of sushi. It has a way of sneaking up on you “like a thief in the night” so to speak. Thus, stuffed and satisfied Steph and I managed enough power to roll ourselves out of, in my opinion, the best place for sushi in Wichita.

Kanai on Urbanspoon

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