Saturday, September 24, 2011

Katakana and Koko

I really like sushi but it isn't something that I usually think about when I go out. This is actually kind of funny because there are about 18 sushi places within a couple of miles of where I live. For whatever reason I awoke yesterday with an urge for sushi which is usually how I will end up going to a sushi place. I decided to go to a place that I pass by every day on my way to work, Katakana and Koko Sushi Lounge. Located in a space that was previously occupied by a Mexican restaurant, and also located in a largely Hispanic neighborhood, it still has a tropical festival vibe to it (despite the fact that it is a BYOB). The space is very large and open with a high unfinished ceiling, track lighting, and a large ventilation duct running overhead. There are also lighting strips above the windows that alternate in color between red, yellow, blue, and green. The floor is hardwood as are the tables and chairs. The sushi bar itself looks a little out of place, a mass of metal and glass in the center of the room and like every sushi bar I have been to in recent years, the background music is downtempo electronic or electronic lounge music. It's provides for a very nice and welcoming vibe. The menu has a wide variety of Japanese cuisine but focuses on Maki (rolls) of which there are many. It is possible and actually fairly easy to come here and have a nice dinner without having anything raw but in my opinion I don't know why you would. I started my dinner with something that wasn't raw or even sushi for that matter. Steamed rolls are fairly common in Japanese and Pan-Asian restaurants because they are pretty accessible. I had steamed pork rolls which were firm enough to handle with chopsticks and tasted really good with or without the spiced soy sauce that was served with it.
For my entree portion of the meal, I ordered a couple of Maki rolls that were fairly standard in many sushi restaurants. While Katakana and Koko does have a large list of Maki rolls, there really isn't anything groundbreaking here but that was fine because I really wasn't looking for anything that would challenge my palette. Both rolls came on one plate. The Godzilla Roll came with 10 pieces and contained smoked salmon, crab meat, eel, cucumber, shitake, kampho, cream cheese, tobiko, crunchy tempura, wasabi mayo, and eel sauce and was on the outside part of the plate. It was pretty big and tasted good but it didn't pack well and was hard to hold together. In order to prevent it from falling apart, I was having to eat each piece in one bite. I did try it with a soy and wasabi mixture but I thought that it tasted good enough without dipping it. My other roll was the Philadelphia Roll which I think I have seen at every sushi place that I have ever been to. It contains smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber and was really good. It was in the center of the plate surrounding some pickled ginger and was much easier to handle than the Godzilla Roll was. While it was good, the white rice on the outside was a little bland and it did benefit from a dip in the soy and wasabi.

While there really isn't anything on the menu that is exciting, it also isn't boring. It is also very accessible and the restaurant is welcoming. It isn't haute cuisine but it is a good place to take care of a sushi craving.

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