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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contrary to the rumors I have not been spending the last couple of few weeks in a Turkish prison. A large home tiling project has taken up a majority of my time and energy over the last two weeks, leaving the blog to its own demise. I am back now and ready to get my review on. To celebrate the last day of school for Steph we went with my Mom and sister to a newer Sushi restaurant for lunch. Getting to Sakura is actually quite a challenge with all the road construction at Rock and Harry. Left hand turns in and out of the parking lot are rather hazardous.
Sakura does not meet your stereotypical Sushi environment. It is located in an old strip mall (the restaurant itself is in the building that once housed the original Felipe’s Jr), there are no fancy water features or sleek modern furniture inside, but you don’t really need all that junk when you serve great sushi. Sakura has ample seating inside, but during our visit only 3 tables were occupied by patrons. Our waitress quickly brought us menus and listed several new sushi options not on the menu. Their menu is rather expansive with an impressive list of sushi, traditional Japanese noodle dishes, and other Asian favorites. As far as maki rolls go, Sakura has all the typical varieties and since the chef once worked at Kwan court he offers his variation of the Kansas Beef roll. They also offer some different choices such as sweet potato tempura, baked scallop, octopus, and red clam. Steph and I decided to go with the California, sweet potato, baked scallop, and the special crunchy shrimp tempura. My mom and sister went with the California, sweet potato, and salmon with avocado. We also ordered a tasty bowl of edamame(boiled and salted soy beans). Everyone at the table enjoyed their sushi choices. Steph and I especially loved the shrimp tempura with spicy mayo, scallions, and lettuce. My sister was a bit intimidated by the elegantly wrapped salmon and avocado roll, but we managed to help her finish it off.
We were all impressed with the quality of Sakura’s sushi and I would say that the shrimp tempura roll is one of the best sushi rolls I have ever had. When talking about good places to get sushi in Wichita this place should certainly get some consideration, it is easily as good as Kwan Court or Sumo.