Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yasu's Asian Bistro - Phoenix/PV

I love sushi. It's almost a sickness. When I was still single, I'd have at it least weekly, if not more often. I was a regular at a place in Addison, TX, called Kampai Sushi and Grill. No relation to the restaurant on Bell here in Phoenix. All the chefs there knew me and the waitresses would bring me my Coke without needing to ask. I miss the perks of being a regular. Free samples, the chefs offering to make me a special roll if they were bored, and being able to get one of the nightly specials even after they were "all out". I still wake up jonesing for their crunchy spicy tuna roll some nights.
When Tara and I first started going out, we'd go for sushi every Sunday and she got burnt out. She likes sushi, but once a month or so is enough for her. I usually can do lunch on a weekday to get my fix if necessary. Last Friday I was in a fishy mood, and with Tara's blessing, we decided to try Yasu's Asian Bistro. It got a glowing review in the New Times and is pretty close to where we live. We hopped into the car and headed down.
Yasu's is located just west of the Paradise Valley Mall on Cactus. It's on the south side of the strip mall that has the Half-priced Books, Voodoo Daddy's and Target. We got a parking spot right out front and went it. The interior is very nice. It certainly belies the older mallish neighborhood outside. There is a waiting area with 4 or 6 comfy chairs and love seats behind the hostess stand. If you walk straight through the waiting area towards the back, there is a small bar with an LCD tv above it. To the right of the waiting area is the main dining room. One large table takes up the center of the room, with a bunch of two/four tops along the front side and a small sushi bar with two benches along the back. We were seated at a round four-top by the kitchen and the door to the patio. The restaurant was full the whole time we were there, except for a tiny round table next to the sushi bar.
One very funny thing, at least to us, happened. Over the past year or two, we've gone to restaurants and have run across the same server named Brian. The first time was at 33 in Scottsdale. Then we had him at Celsius in Desert Ridge. Last Thanksgiving, we went to Shogun (just down the road from Yasu's in PV) and had him as well. As we were looking over the menu here, someone behind me said "Hi" and Tara looked up and started laughing. It turns out Brian is the GM at Yasu's. Small culinary world in North Phoenix, apparently.
Anyways, back to the food. Yasu's has a tapas-like menu. Lots of small. Their specialty is items grilled over specially imported woods. After taking a long time to look over the menu and asking questions about the items, we made our choices. We both got Cokes.
We started with some edamame. They came out nice and hot, but weren't salted enough for us. Tara asked and got a small dish of sea salt on the side with no problems.
The first thing to arrive was the Red roll I ordered. It was a long roll with two shrimp tempura end-to-end with a spicy tuna mixture on top. It was good, but the spicy was very strong and seemed to focus on the top front of my tongue. It almost felt like I'd burned my tongue. It eventually subsided, but somewhat hindered my taste buds for the meal. The roll came out so fast I thought it was pre-fab, but the shrimp was still hot, so it was fresh made.
Next came a King Mushroom dish. The description on the menu was very tempting, but the execution wasn't what we expected. Some long fibrous mushrooms were quartered and covered with some fried shrimp and some other things. It was very hard to eat with only chopsticks. It was ok, but we're not sure we are the intended audience. It wasn't bad, just not what we expected.
I ordered a bowl of miso soup. It came in a large wooden cup/bowl with a wooden spoon. It was an excellent miso. Lots of seaweed and tofu floated in a very flavorful broth. I could have finished another couple servings of this no problem.
Tara got a shrimp tempura roll. It was pretty much like my Red roll without the spicy tuna topper and only one shrimp. They don't put eel sauce on their roll, unlike most places I'm used to. Tara still enjoyed it though.
Next up was the tempura yellow tail. Yellow tail meat was rolled into a seaweed wrapper, lightly batterred, and fried. Three pieces about the size of a small egg roll came on the plate along with a small bowl of dipping sauce. I liked it and so did Tara.
The last item to arrive was from the grill side of the menu. The tukune is a ground chicken mixture formed into a sausage-sized log and grilled. It was very good. I think there was a sweet sauce over it as well. This was probably my favorite of the night.
Overall we enjoyed Yasu's. All of our dishes were excellently prepared. Any issues we had were probably just personal tastes and expectations. It wasn't quite what we expected, but we still enjoyed it and there are lots of other items we are curious to try. The grilled items are very interesting and they do have a full nigiri/maki menu. The specialty rolls are limited, so if that's what you are looking for, I'd suggest another restaurant. If you are looking for an interesting mix of Japanese grilled items and sushi, this is definitely worth a try. They also have quite a few daily specials as well.
For an idea on pricing, here's the rundown of what we got:
King Mushroom 8.00
Tempura Yellow Tail 7.50
Tukune 4.50
Edamame 3.50
Miso soup 3.00
Shrimp Tempura roll 6.50
Red roll 12.00

No comments: