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
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
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
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.