Adventures in Eating & Cooking
After our last final previous term, I celebrated with some of my friends by going to a Japanese restaurant in Philly. During my California trip, I went to a chain sushi restaurant that Pri told me was gaining fame on the West Coast. This past weekend I went back to NYC and shared a platter with my friends in Flushing. Question is, which one was best? Well, let’s have a look.
The restaurant in University City was called Nara. I first heard of it from some friends who were in love with its cheap sake, so I figured it might have cheap decent sushi too. I ordered the Crunchy Spicy Kani, under the recommendation of the waitress. My impression was that it would be like a spiced-up version of a spider roll.
It turned out to be a rip-off though. First of all, it tasted bland. Second of all it only came with six pieces. Third of all, it contained only pieces of flaky panko and some crab meat that was probably imitation. Oh, and there was a bit of roe topping… Sadly that was probably the best part. The rice was plain, lacking stickiness and vinegar; the lightly drizzled spicy sauce was barely noticeable; and the panko was flavorless. Now not only do I have to find a decent bubble tea place in Philly, but a decent sushi place as well!
The place Pri took me to in Cali was called Little Mad Fish, which serves a wide array of traditional and specialty rolls. Most of the rolls I didn’t recognize, probably due to differences in the West, or just restaurant exceptions. Based on their descriptions, the specialty rolls seemed designed to appeal to more American tastes, using ingredients like mayo and fried fillings. I personally prefer a more raw, clean Japanese taste, so I ordered a Half-Rainbow, Half-Dragon Roll.
The roll was pretty good, but tasted somewhat whitewashed. I really liked the raw fish and eel toppings, but did not like what was wrapped within the seaweed as much. The Rainbow Roll was basically a California Roll topped with raw salmon or tuna. I didn’t like California roll part because it was too heavy. Avocado itself is a creamy fruit and the crab was chopped up and mixed with some creamy mayo sauce. The Dragon Roll consisted of yummy eel, but the tempura innards were more crunchy and oily than true tempura. But Little Mad Fish was definitely a huge step up from Nara.
The gold goes to Flushing, which gratefully is close to home. When I went back this past weekend, my friends and I celebrated at Sushi Family Express. We ordered a lovely party platter consisting of California rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls (both normal tuna and white tuna), Tempura rolls, Dragon Rolls, and Eel Rolls. Feast your eyes on this!
Everything was great! Whereas I usually hate mayo, I loved the spicy mayo sauce drizzled on the spicy tuna, especially the white tuna. Regular red tuna tends to be a bit too fishy-tasting for me. But the white tuna was amazing melt-in-your-mouth blended with a viscous spicy sauce that left your tongue tingling for more.
I think my favorite roll was the tempura one, lathered in the delicious eel sauce. The tempura was crispy and fried with just the right amount of oil. Loved it!
Sushi Family also makes pretty good California Rolls. The crab is styled similar to the ones at Little Mad Fish, with the crab meat mashed up and mixed with some creamy sauce. The only difference is, Sushi Family’s is less whitewashed. It does get sort of pasty over time, but does not get too heavy. I still prefer the crab without the cream though.
My only complaint about the Eel Roll was that the eel wrapped on top was too thin!! The fatty skin was peeled off, which is probably healthier for you but takes away from the flavor. To make up for lack of skin, they should be generous and add a layer of eel. But for $60 split amongst 4 people for the amount of sushi we got, they were generous enough.
Plus, we got salad, miso soup, and edamame appetizers and green tea ice cream for dessert! All of this was free of charge. It was an extremely satisfying meal. You can’t beat Flushing’s prices because after all it’s like Asian Central!
1st- Sushi Family Express representing NYC
2nd- Little Mad Fish representing CA
3rd- Nara representing Philly