Friday, February 17, 2012

There, at Sata Sushi, sat a carousel horse.

With the introduction of sushi to the Western market came the inception of a new style of sushi, known as fusion-style sushi. In contrast to the humbler traditional-style sushi, chefs that make fusion sushi are constantly looking for ways to create bolder and more innovative sushi, often adding ingredients that normally aren't paired with raw fish, such as fruits. Such is the case with Sata sushi, a caucasian-run fusion sushi restaurant in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

The carousel horse in question:

Remember how I was on a burger roll not too long ago? I seem to be on a sushi roll now. (Sushi roll, hahaha, I'm such a riot). I usually prefer traditional sushi restaurants, where the chefs are cheerful Japanese sushi veteran Masters, but I don't mind venturing into the more funky side of sushiville from time to time. However, there was that one traumatic experience at a certain restaurant, where they put soap bubbles on their soba, which was beyond over-the-top, IMO...

Anyway. So when I found these discount coupons on the internet for Sata sushi, and I figured 'why not'. The place had a pretty decent rating, and the coupons seemed like a good deal, so what had I to lose? Nothing, as it turns out. I know, anticlimactic, but hey, I'm just an anticlimactic sort of person.

Accessibility - Grade: B
It's a 10 minute walk from Joliette metro station, but you have to walk through some residential areas, which may seem a bit sketchy, especially when it's pitch dark outside. Also, there was this really confusing intersection where there were no stop signs or lights to allow the pedestrians to cross, so we basically had to dart across the street when there were no cars, WHICH YOU SHOULD NEVER DO AT HOME, KIDS. Ahem.

Service - Grade: A-
The waitress was very nice and accomodating, taking time to explain the ordering process, the menu and each dish as they came. Her attitude was pleasant despite the fact that we had discount coupons, which was nice. Service did become slow as the restaurant filled up, though.

Food - Grade: B-

Ehhhh. It's not that I don't like fusion sushi, because I do, if it's done right. I just found certain aspects of Sata's sushi a bit lacking.

To give you an idea of what the internet deal consisted of, we basically paid $29 for (apparently) a $72 value, with tax and tip not included in the $29. With it, we had two soups or salads, one specialty dish, one choice of hosomaki (8 pcs), two choices of nigiri (2 pcs/order) or sashimi and four choices of futomaki (5 pcs/order).

We ordered one wakame (seaweed) salad and one seafood miso soup to start.

Wakame salad
The wakame salad was pretty ordinary; it tasted like the stuff you get from AYCE sushi places, or even the seaweed salads you find at Asian supermarkets. It came with a small mound of lettuce and cabbage drizzled with mayo.

Seafood miso soup

The miso soup had the customary tofu and seaweed, and it also came with one shrimp, which was halved, and one crab stick. I'm not a big fan of miso to begin with, but this particular soup was very watery. The shrimp was limp (hah!) and the crabstick was starting to peel. Again, not very impressive.

At the recommendation of our waitress, we ordered the 'salmon gratiné' for the specialty dish. We were wary at first, since we thought that gratiné meant we were going to get raw fish topped with melted cheese, but nope. The dish consisted of four nigiri-like pieces, where the base is a maki stuffed with tempura shavings and the top is chopped salmon sashimi mixed with spicy mayo and chopped green onions. The top is then seared with a torched.

Salmon gratiné

I enjoyed this dish. The top part of the roll had the distinct taste of cooked salmon, but once you bit into it, the sweeter taste of the sashimi came through. The cooked and uncooked salmon also made for a nice textural contrast.

For the hosomaki, we ordered the Sake (salmon). We had one order of spicy scallop sashimi and one order of spicy salmon sashimi. For the futomaki, we got the Neige, Soleil, F1 and the Tango.


General comments:

One particular trend that I noticed in their rolls was the liberal use of tempura shavings and green onion, Practically every roll had a bit of each. Also, I had a few general complaints with their makis. First, they overcooked their rice. Instead of feeling the texture of each individual grain, you instead layer of mushy rice surround your roll. Second, they didn't vinegar the rice enough This resulted rather bland, ordinary white rice. Third, the seaweed that surrounded the rolls, though easier to bite through than the ones at AYCE places, was still a little tough, and required some sawing from my teeth before it broke. From what I ate, the raw fish and seafood tasted pretty fresh, but because they seem to love mixing everything with spicy mayo and green onions, the freshness was a little hard to gauge.

The hosomaki tasted a bit bland without the vinegared rice to accompany it. And since it didn't have the tempura shavings or the spicy mayo to fall back on for flavour, it made for a boring roll. I did find some green onions in the roll, though.

Salmon hosomaki and spicy salmon and spicy scallop sashimi

The salmon and scallop sashimi were mixed with spicy mayo and tempura shavings, and then plopped onto a cylinder of cucumber. I think this dish would have worked better if they used a thinner slice of cucumber. As it turned out, I had to eat the two seperately, since the cucumber was too big to eat with the sashimi. The sashimi itself was pretty good, but the spice was barely there, and they could have done without the tempura.

La neige

La Neige consisted of shrimp, coconut flakes, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo, with a drizzle of terriyaki sauce on the side. General complaints aside, I thought this roll was pretty good and innovative. The coconut taste isn't bold; rather, it lends a subtle sweetness to the roll, which works well with the natural sweetness of the shrimp and avocado. Since the coconut flakes are mixed with the tempura shavings, the distinct texture of the coconut flakes isn't obvious.

Soleil roll

The Soleil roll had salmon, pollock, caviar, mango, cucumber and mayo. The mango was nice and ripe, and its flavour was subtle when mixed with the other ingredients. Overall, it was pretty decent.

F1 roll

The F1 roll contained spicy white tuna, caviar, pollock, cucumber, tempura shavings and japanese radish. The highlight of the roll was pretty much the radish, which was sour and salty instead of the traditional sweet and sour. Personally, I liked it more than the sweet and sour ones. Other than that, the roll was quite ordinary.

Tango roll

And lastly, the Tango contained salmon, smoked salmon, caviar, cucumber, avocado, tempura and mayo. This was a rather plain roll too. I thought the smokey and sweet mix between the smoked and regular salmon would create an interesting taste, but as it turned out, I barely tasted the smoked salmon until I actually went looking for it.

Apple pecan dessert roll

Out of sheer curiosity, we also ordered one of their dessert makis, which wasn't included in the deal. This one contained apples, pecans, tempura shavings (again), and had a drizzle of honey on the plate. The different flavours came together nicely, but it didn't blow my mind or anything.

Price - $$$
If the regular price of what we ate was really around $80, then I would say that this place is way out of the price range for regular students. With the coupon, the price was a reasonable $50 after tax and tip (because you're supposed to tip on the regular price). They do seem to have some combos that are less expensive than ordering a la carte, so if you really feel the need to check this place out, then maybe go for one of those. Otherwise, for the fare they serve, I don't think this place is worth the hassle for students.

Final Grade: B-
I think people who fancy cocktails with their snazzy sushi will like this place. They do serve some pretty interesting rolls, and if they imrpove the quality of their rice, then I could even see myself returning (with a fresh coupon, of course). But until then, I think I will stick to my traditional sushi.

... I'm on a carousel horse.

Sata Sushi
3349 Rue Ontario E., Montreal
(514) 510-7282
Sata Sushi on Urbanspoon


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