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.
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.