Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review (draft): Sushiya. Intended Audience: The Index

After popping onto I-94-BR E for a 4 minute drive from Kalamazoo's Campus, one is greeted by the fuschia clash of a Sushiya sign behind rust-colored supporting beams and glass panel windows.  The cheery white "ya" of the title pops out at you in juxtaposition to the black of "sushi", as if foreshadowing to a skeptic how enthusiastic you should actually be. It cheerfully comments in the same white color that it is an asian fusion cuisine, even if the modern-styling of the multi-business building doesn't seem to agree.  Entering the building you skirt to the left of hovered carpeted steps to maneuver to the entrance door to Sushiya.  
Entering, the first impression of the glassed-in restaurant is Japanese themed highlights of black lacquered furniture, silk screen motifs of Geisha's and bamboo (with the occasional fake canvas painting) in the expected tan, red, and natural toned hues, displays of Japanese themed figurines in a boxed display case near the kitchen, the bathroom hidden behind a partitioning curtain of the well known woodblock "The great wave at Kanagawa" by Katsushika HOKUSAI, and fake blossoming plants.  Lots of fake plants.  Seeing as it is near to Halloween there is also a few chintzy decorations of ghouls and fall leaves in the front near the check-in station.  The walls have similar themes to the artwork of yellows, greens, and maroon accents.  The three televisions over the bar to the left of the entrance sport the NFL recap of the Ohio State and MSU football game,  TBS featuring Faceoff with John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, and the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.  The room is near empty at 5:00 pm, and we're greeted by a relaxed waiter.  "Three?" he asks, picking up the same number of menues and ushering us towards the best tables close to the open glass windows.  My counterpart notes the Bill and Ted movie, and the waiter changes his trajectory to make sure to seat us where my friend can watch and talk to the group comfortably at the same time, while the rest of the group still has a pleasant view of outside.  The sound levels of both electronics and patrons were low enough I hardly even noticed the other three small groups like our own.  The space was large enough for reservation-less groups, but relaxed enough for children. The soft toned colors of the space and Japanese-Korean infusion food seem to almost absorb all negative energies, leaving you sated and warm like the free refills of green tea: the real stuff, with the cloud at the bottom that tells you they used a tea acorn instead of a bag.  It may come in a plastic teapot with a bamboo stalk painted on, but it's warm, and heats the standard clay tea-cups just-so in the ambivalent temperature of the space.
We talk, taking our time to pick out entrees, the vegan of the group hunting for something compatible with her dietary restrictions.  "Secret to ordering vegan?  Don't necessarily look at the entrees."  The waiter came back a comfortable three times to take our order, and was patient with our indecisiveness.   When one of us tried to order from the children's menue, we found out that Sushiya is not supposed to sell children bowl sizes to people that aren't children, but the customer's friendly argument was "but it's my money" and with a returned smile the waiter parried "we don't have managers here on Sundays", and that was that.  When the Children's Menue Teriyaki Chicken came, it was deemed "actually a good size for what I wanted", and also "quite tasty".
We started with an appetizer of Edamame  in the shells on a square plate.  Often considered "Vegan bar food", these beans easily pop into your mouth with the tangy seasoning of salt that makes you want to re-lick your fingers.  The waiter came back to calmly check if se had asked for tempura Udon (an appetizer) or Vegetable Udon.  With a reassured "Vegetable", muttering about how tempura has egg in it, that was yet another "and that ways that" moment.  Our main courses came, and we did our best with take-out style chopsticks that came complete with paper wrapping featuring their separate locations at 242 East Kalamazoo Ave. #101, and their second location in East Lansing at 529 East Grand River Ave.   The seaweed salad had a light dressing, with a hint of chili and lime amidst vinegar  soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, with 2 lemon slices on the side.  It wasn't slimy, but with a crunch to it, just like the cucumber rolls.  There came a point where we got tired at unsuccessfully stabbing at fried tofu in broth with scallions.  After joking "We are civilized, we do not carve our meat at the table", we caved and asked for soup spoons.  We received smaller table spoons, and continued to carve and wiggle away.  Difficult, but delicious.  As music from The Beatles, The Doors, and The Who, tied the dishes together, we joyfully slurped away at our vegetable udon (sans tempura) with fried noodles, udon noodles, cabbage, celery, onion, carrot, more scallions, and large slices of white radish in unpickled form with expected dyed pink edges.    My favorite roll was the pickled radish.  It came presented on the same plate as the cucumber rolls, with fresh ginger and a leafy garnish.  The yellow of the radish looked almost like mango, but had the texture of boiled carrots with a little crunchiness left in them.  Crisp was the theme of that plate.
As the waiter set down the same menues, now open to the dessert section featuring multiple ice creams, he left a ven-diagram of water on the table to refill our tea-pot yet again.  My companion joked, "If you want a Vegan dessert [here], you get alcohol".  After skimming, the other two at the table made up our minds.  Our tight schedule helped us to discover you can get takeout, even if it's dessert.  You can even order half of one type and half of the other, that is if Sushiya keeps themselves stocked.  So at 6 in the evening, without a crowd, my order of half plum red wine and half red bean ice cream became just a full serving of red bean in a styrofoam container with a spoon for the road.  After leaving a 20% tip of 5 dollars, my grand total of cost reaching 31.24, I re-entered the car.   We hit the highway for another four minutes to return to campus, my tastebuds experiencing the red-bean ice cream as the period to the meal that would end the agreeable "ya" statement when someone would ask me, "Sushiya.  Should we go?"


  1. Nice overall look at Sushiya, but I would love to hear more about the food and the variety of sushi and types of dishes they have or lack of. Overall, good job.

  2. You do a nice job describing how you see the restaurant. Like Kelsey, I think this is a nice all-encompassing view. I love that you mention the green tea cloud. I also like the "crisp" theme you give the ginger. The vegan theme is nice and I think you'll be able to work with it really well. Can't wait to hear more about the food!

  3. I would also like to hear about the food a little more. And also like we discussed in class, get out of the idea of one night when you talk about the restaurant. Great job!

  4. You have a few really bright details, and clever perspective points. I agree! More sushi description! I love the atmosphere bits in the beginning. Thanks for sharing.

  5. There's a lot of good, original description in this piece. You always do a great job of that in your writing--setting the scene and tone. The thing I want more of is the description of the food. I want to see more of the red bean ice cream or what the tempura looks like. Great work.

  6. I love Sushiya, what a great choice. Nice job describing the ambience and such, it thought it was very spot on. Thanks for sharing this great critique, nice job!