Wasabi Bistro - Japanese Fusion, Sushi (2.5 Stars)
It's interesting to me how most cuisines have a freebie food to help whet your appetite: chips and salsa, bread and butter, edamame, breadsticks, pita and garlic vinaigrette, etc. Depending on how delicious each of those are, it's almost easy to fill up before the appetizers even arrive. During this visit, it was apparent we should have done just that.
I like Edamame; most of the time. I've yet to figure out why the preparation is so hit-and-miss at restaurants offering this hands-on finger food. The beans have a tendency to either be mushy or completely underdone and I often have a pod split without notice and launch a bean across the table. That trend of mediocre edamame continued at Wasabi Bistro as the undercooked beans were so heavily salted, what's usually a completely empty bowl for just me at, say, Miyabi Sushi, was less than half eaten by the two of us. I can appreciate flaked salt, but a finely ground salt would have served them better and wouldn't have dominated the subtly sweet beans.
One thing Dan and I both agreed on wanting to try was the Spicy King Crab Soup. At $10 per small bowl, we definitely expected to be wowed. However, we found the broth completely lacked any real crab flavor and the "leg" wasn't cracked so extricating the two tiny bites of crab meat was nigh impossible. The slice of lemon riding the crab leg raft tricked me into believing there would be brightness with a citrus note to the soup. Instead, it was apparently just there for decoration as no amount of citrus could cut through the highly salted, raw onion flavor of the soup. There was also no notable "spicy" to the soup at all. Definitely two strikes in a row for Wasabi Bistro.
At least the Maguro (raw tuna on a finger of sushi rice with a tiny amount of wasabi) looked great. The amount of tuna and the texture of the rice was great. Unfortunately, the tuna had a slight fishy scent to me, so I forced Dan to smell. He said he couldn't really smell anything odd, so we went ahead and ate it. Apparently, all of the soup's missing spice ended up here as there was so much wasabi hidden under the tuna that I barely choked it down. As tears came to my eyes, I looked at Dan and said, "Okay, your turn!" He reluctantly attempted one of the ruby red fingers and said it was good, which of course shocked me. In trying a second piece for myself, the wasabi level was back to normal though I could still taste a bit of fishiness. Of the four pieces we ordered, the one in the picture was left orphaned.
The most ubiquitous roll at any sushi establishment in the US must be the California Roll. At most places, you can expect imitation crab meat, mayo, avocado, cucumber, and sometimes tobiko (flying fish roe). At Wasabi Bistro, you can expect real crab meat given the roll's price is much higher than at many other restaurants. In its favor, the avocado was plentiful and the crab salad inside was just right: slightly sweet and very creamy. The roll was plated on top of spicy mayo and garnished with a sweet brown (teriyaki?) sauce. It was a relatively average roll though beautifully presented in its caterpillar-esque goodness.
The Volcano Roll (pictured in front) featured a center of spicy tuna and asparagus, and was topped with a mouthwatering seven ingredients: ahi tuna and avocado, spicy mayo, tobiko, toasted macadamia nuts, and unagi and sriracha sauces. Despite the hefty price tag for this roll ($14), the textures were incredible. The sauces added depth and a creamy heat, the tuna and avocado added richness, and the macadamias offered a nutty warmth as well as some crunch and pop with the tobiko. This was definitely the best roll we ordered and I'd say it was actually worth the price. Plus, I do have a fondness for macadamias, especially in sushi rolls as I feel they offer something savory and unexpected.
The hidden roll just behind the Volcano was the 2nd Avenue Roll. Ironically, it's akin to being the love child of the first two rolls we had. It had cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo, and tobiko like the California Roll, but also spicy tuna and shrimp tempura. The roll didn't do much for either of us as somehow it was lacking even the average flavor of the California Roll. The shrimp tempura was hardly noticeable because the tempura was soggy so the crunch was completely missing. The rice was good and the spicy mayo and tobiko were par for the course.
The worst roll of the evening was definitely the Wasabi Roll. Apparently we have a thing for the California Roll because this one also offered crab, mayo, avocado, tobiko, and cucumber, but did included a spicy wasabi aioli and was wrapped with seared albacore. Dan said he felt the roll had too large a piece of albacore and he was stuck chewing far longer than he wanted to, resulting in an aftertaste that was too fishy for even two mayos to adequately cover. The chewing issue was exacerbated by the fact that this was a six-piece roll, not an eight-piece roll like the others. Unfortunately, this means a much larger bite per piece.
Over the past few years, I've eaten at Wasabi Bistro several times and usually came away thinking it was great sushi and a good price. However, when a mediocre dinner for two sans dessert and alcohol (because we didn't have any of either) ended up three figures after tip, it's time to rethink another visit. Wasabi Bistro unfortunately earned its 2.5 Stars this visit and is no longer a sushi restaurant I'm willing to recommend.