Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sushiya Review - Intended Audience: The Index

The fuschia clash of the Sushiya sign behind rust-colored supporting beams and glass panel windows features the label “asian fusion” under the black and white title of the restaurant.  The stark contrast of the white “ya” is reminiscent of the ambivalent statement one would give when asked, "Sushiya.  Should we go?"  

Entering the multi-business complex, a person would skirt to the left of a set of floating steps to enter the space and be greeted by a friendly waiter in blacks.  They typically won’t even need to ask “reservation?”, because there will be room.  Sushiya looks like the standard middle-class asian fusion/sushi restaurant: it has color hues of maroon, mint, and bamboo wallpaper, black lacquered furniture, silk screen motifs of Geishas, a box display of Japanese themed figurines, three televisions by a bar with a solitary figure looking over his work notes, and a bathroom hidden behind a partitioning curtain of the well known woodblock "The great wave at Kanagawa" by Katsushika Hokusai. The assorted fake plants complete the un-impressionable atmosphere.   Music from the ilk of The Beatles, The Doors, and The Who intermix with the low hum of electronics and patrons, so low you will barely notice the other three small gaggles of families with their children and the lack of couples.  

Sushiya’s menu can double as bar-bells for the sheer amount of pages.  The best way to navigate them and the over-loaded portions and prices of entrees and specials is to order a surplus of small dishes from the extensive appetizer menu and share with a large group. Order an entree individually and you’re looking at the price-range of 18.95-37.95 for just the main dish.  Order from multiple selections and for multiple people and you help cut down the portions and divert the cost by splitting the check evenly. Another tip: order a series of rolls and they’ll bring it to you on a wooden boat which is incredibly convenient for sharing.  If you’re in a group of 5 split evenly the cost will be closer to 15 per person, where in a group of two expect to spend around 25+ per.

One man tried to compensate for portions and cost by ordering off the children’s menu, but found out that Sushiya is not supposed to sell children bowl sizes to people that aren't of that age demographic.  With a smile the waiter then parried "but we don't have managers here on Sundays", and soon the customer received a Children's Menu Teriyaki Chicken.  It was deemed "actually a good size for what [he] wanted", and also "quite tasty".  This is one of many examples of the waiter’s personality.  Accommodating, giving space for customer’s indecisiveness,  and prompt.  They are fastidious in leaving a water venn diagram on the table to refill the green tea teapot.  Order one cup, and it’s free refills of the real stuff, complete 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 your insides and the standard clay tea-cups just-so in the ambivalent temperature of the space.  That being said, some patrons have experienced courteous staff that was too friendly, chatting so long with customers at the expense of a dishes’ heat.  Sushiya seems to be all about costs.

The asian fusion assortment  between Korean and Japanese features dishes ranging from  complicated and spicy to simple and familiar, from Egg Cake Sushi and Korean Kimchi to Oshinko Roll (pickled japanese radish) and the standard California Roll.  Each selection is wonderful to the tastebuds but a negative nelly can discern something to complain about.  The Egg Cake sushi is sweeter than usual, but still pleasant.  One order of two pieces of it costs three dollars, roughly the same as prices in New York City.   The kimchi leaves that twitch of spice in the corners of your smile, but spice-lovers will find themselves wanting. The vegetable udon has white radishes with dyed pink edges and a plethora of other pleasantries like cabbage and fried noodles.  The steamed gyoza may come closer to room-temperature then desired, but still have the desired texture for a dumpling.  The seaweed salad has a light dressing, with a hint of chili and lime amidst vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, complete with two lemon slices on the side.   The Kalamazoo Roll brilliantly combines elements like avocado and eel: a combination that always gives a pleasant reaction.   Most other things are tasty, but as expected.  They lack the wow factor. 

In the same menu, under dessert you can find multiple ice creams.  This is the closest to wow you’re going to find, with flavors ranging from Green Tea, Mango, Sesame, Red Bean and Ginger. The bowl comes with two scoops, which you can mix and match when you can’t decide. The joke is “if you want a Vegan dessert [here], you get alcohol", so you better like dairy or not be lactose intolerant.   There’s another downside.  Some flavors, like Plum Wine, are in high demand and therefore run out, even as early as 6 (two hours after they open for dinner) on a Sunday or Monday.  But don’t fret, instead order the Red Bean or Sesame Ice Cream.  The latter is nutty, and almost has a coffee feel to it, whereas the former is a favorite that replaces any craving for the vanilla bean.  If you really want a surprise, go for Ginger.  It is tart but subdued compared to the generous hunk that comes on the sushi boat, and has a pleasant way of tickling your nose.

Sushiya isn’t sensational, but it can satisfy the palate after a 4 minute drive through downtown from Kalamazoo College’s campus.  Nothing is atrocious or slimy or outstanding; it doesn’t leave much of an impression other than in your wallet.  The plates are square, the chopsticks are take-out style,  the wait staff is friendly, and the menu has variety.  Its selection is wider than Sakura, a farther but similarly priced Japanese Hibachi restaurant in Portage, and can help fix your sushi hankering with less travel time, for a price.  The quickest way to describe Sushiya’s selection is crisp, convenient, and coin.

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