• Arizona (4)

Tucson, AZ — Sushi Garden

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Published on: November 16, 2012
Sushi Garden
3408 E Broadway
Tucson, AZ

This week in Tuscon, my colleagues recommended several restaurants. Yesterday, I took their recommendation and visited Guero Canelo and had an awesome Sonoran Hot Dog. During the week they suggested several sushi restaurants. Not knowing which one to choose I looked at some online reviews and saw that Sushi Garden was chosen best sushi byTucson Weekly. I had also been hearing radio ads for Sushi Garden all week.

So, when I went to Sushi Garden, my expectations were high. Sushi Garden is a large restaurant and on the radio they advertise their sushi buffet. Sushi Garden’s buffet is not a full Japanese buffet like Ichi Umi in New Jersey. It looked like Sushi Garden’s buffet is relatively small with only sushi items. I wouldn’t know because when I arrived, the first thing the hostess did, was rather rudely inform me that the buffet was closed.

Sushi garden has a large and innovative menu with a few non-sushi items. The menu has several images and it took me quite a while to decide. I finally decided to order some crab puffs (crab rangoons). The crab puffs were pretty good.

I decided to try some rolls. I ordered a Philadelphia Roll, a Scallop Roll and a Temptation Roll. The Temptation Roll was cooked lobster in a in a cucumber wrap. It tasted good but it was nearly impossible to eat. Even when I picked up the pieces by hand it fell apart. Each piece was too large to eat in one bite but no matter how you ate it — it fell apart. Nice idea but it didn’t quite cut it.

In the Philadelphia Roll the fish was warm and frankly, a bit slimy. Disappointing to say the least. The Scallop Roll was raw scallops with some kind of sauce wrapped in rice. I love scallops and the Scallop Roll was the high point of the meal.

In the end, Sushi Garden failed to live up to the hype.

Sushi Garden 2 rice bowls * * * * -

Phoenix, AZ — Hana Sushi

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Published on: November 3, 2012
Hana Sushi
5524 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ

The Valley of the Sun. Late October in Iowa and I got sent to Phoenix :) Had a good week with a client that I had not worked with before but during the week I felt the need to get out and try some sushi.

A scan of the Internet identified Hana Sushi as one of the top rated sushi places in the Phoenix are so I decided to give it a try. Hana is a small Japanese restaurant with an extensive menu. I came to Hana looking for sushi but the rest of the menu looked so good that I ended up ordering a noodle dish and a sushi roll. The noodle portion was huge and hit the spot. My sushi roll was very tasty.

I really couldn’t find anything wrong with Hana — next time I go, I’m having sushi :)

Hana Sushi 4 rice bowls * * * * -

Phoenix, AZ — Zen32

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Published on: January 19, 2007
3160 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ

When I got to Phoenix this week, I drove out to my hotel in Goodyear on the west side. I was dismayed when the car GPS said that the nearest sushi restaurant was over ten miles away.

At work the next day, I asked some of my colleagues about sushi. They  we no more encouraging. They said that I would have to drive about 30 minutes to find a decent sushi bar. As a group they also recommended Zen32. Therefore it was with high expectations that I made the 30 minute drive to Zen32.

Zen32 is in a trendy part of Phoenix among an array of chain and independent restaurants. It is in an outdoor mall located across the street from the Gelato Spot — the gelato was great. Zen32 is a trendy, dark restaurant. The restaurant design was noteworthy, the theme was carried out nicely from the sushi bar to the dining room to the bar area and even the bathrooms. The only problem I had was that the restaurant was very dark.

I started my meal with an order of ‘pot stickers’. They were absolutely perfect. The wrappers were delicate, neither too soft nor too hard. The sauce was just a little bit spicy adn absolutely delicious. They were the best part of my meal.

As for the fish, I ordered a selection of nigiri along with a Philly roll and a tuna and avocado roll.The fish was fresh but it kept falling off the sushi rice. My Philly roll was fine but the portion of the tuna and avocado roll was not as good. The diameter of the roll was huge and the avocado portion was so small that I could not even taste it. It looked like the avocado had been lightly brushed on.

All in all Zen32 failed to live up to its billing. Not a bad experience but not a great one either.

Zen32: 3 rice bowls * * * * -


Mesa, AZ — Sekai Sushi

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Published on: February 23, 2006
Sekai Sushi
1017 S. Gilbert Road
Mesa, AZ

When I asked my colleagues for sushi recommendations in the Mesa area one responded in spades with detailed personal reviews of five local places. He described Sekai Sushi, "as one of his favorites … with generous portions."

Sekai Sushi is a rather large Japanese restaurant located in a strip mall. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and a good sized sushi bar. As a solo business traveler, I vacillate between the sushi bar and a table where I can spread out and read my book. I was pleased to see that Sekai had both a dark dining area and a hand full of tables in a sort of indoor gazebo with excellent lighting. On this trip the book won so I sat under the gazebo.

On thing that impressed my right away was that I arrived near closing time but the service was still excellent. I was never made to feel unwelcome or rushed in any way. Both the sushi chef and waitress were friendly and attentive — a definite plus.

This trip I ordered sushi ala carte. I had maguro, sake, hokkigai, hamachi and hotatagai. (tuna, salmon, surf clam, yellowtail and scallops) I also ordered a Philadelphia roll. The tuna and salmon were of average quality and I was a little disappointed with the yellowtail. The surf clam was great, tasty and nicely presented. The scallops were wonderful, fresh and flavorful, really the highlight of the meal. Unfortunately my favorite (I know it’s not authentic but I like it!) Philadelphia Roll was a disappointment. In my opinion the chef used way too much cream cheese. Rather than providing a hint of sweetness and texture, it completely overpowered the fish.The roll was also topped with masago which I personally do not enjoy. The Miso soup was unusual in that it looked more like egg drop soup being yellow in color not clear.

So how to rate Sekai overall? Great service, awesome scallops. Too much cream cheese on the Philly roll and strange Miso (If I ever start a band I think I will call it Strange Miso). Overall the good things out weigh the bad and the next time business takes me to Mesa, I’ll be sure to stop in.

Sekai Sushi 3 rice bowls * * * - -
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