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Something’s Fishy at Samurai -- and That's Great!

The Strongsville Gourmet samples sushi, but sticks with cooked fish

It’s funny how you can be with someone for a long time and still discover something you didn’t know about them. This happened recently between my wife and me.

Last year, she was quite surprised to discover that I enjoy whiskey. It’s not too surprising that this remained unknown to her since I rarely drink and when I do, it’s usually a glass of wine or beer. But, yes, I can enjoy doing a shot of strong spirits when the occasion arises.

I have literally just found out that the Mrs. greatly enjoys sushi. This has come out of left field for me, as I would never picture her eating raw fish, though I knew she loves seafood. She goes on a lot of business trips and apparently has tried sushi several times and loves it.

Well, I’m a good husband and thought, who am I to deny my other half raw fish? With that, I decided a trip to was in order.

The Samurai has recently opened in the Plaza at SouthPark, 16670 Royalton Road. It’s in the strip where Best Buy is, only on the other end.

It’s a fairly large place, divided in two: One half is a sushi bar filled with booths; the other is a hibachi steakhouse.

Normally, I’d be running into the steakhouse half (and will one day) but this evening it was about fish. Raw fish.

Now, I have had visited sushi bars in the past, but I have no doubt I would have enjoyed those visits a lot more if the bar also served those shots of whiskey with the fish. (Now, that’s a sushi bar!) I just get the heebie-jeebies at the thought of eating raw fish.

My wife was kind enough to offer to share some of her sushi with me, with allowed me to order some “cooked” fish for my meal. Yay!

Looking over the menu, we decided to share an appetizer and ordered the Samurai Roll under the Chef’s Special Roll section of their impressive and very large menu. As sushi rolls go, this one is a little bit of a cheat as it is deep fried and filled with cream cheese, salmon, avocado and spicy sauce.

Let me say that it was fantastic. I really enjoyed the crispiness of the light coating of tempura on the outer layer with the softness of the filling. It looked beautiful and it tasted as good as it looked. I also really enjoyed the wasabi and I never say no to pickled ginger. (My wife hates ginger.) This was a very satisfying dish.

We tried two of their soups, the Miso and the Clear. It was interesting comparing the two, The clear soup really is clear and is the typical onion, mushroom soup that most hibachi restaurants serve. The Miso was cloudy, with small cubes of tofu, scallions and seaweed all flavored with soybean paste. Both were terrific and I couldn’t pick a favorite.

I was also happy that neither soup was piping hot. I usually have to steal a couple of cubes of ice from my water to cool down my broth. Not a problem here.

The salads were simple, lettuce with ginger dressing, but what more do you really need? I love the flavor of ginger, as I mentioned before, and was quite pleased. My only complaint would be that the lettuce could have been a bit drier.

For my dinner, the waitress recommended the Salmon Teriyaki served with vegetables and white rice. Wow! This was delicious. My plate came with two large pieces salmon that were nicely grilled and topped with a tasty teriyaki sauce. The top of the salmon had a nice crispness to it while the inside was still silky.

I was very impressed with the vegetable side dish, which at a lot of places is often prepared in shippable fashion. Here thin slices of mushrooms, carrots, onions, broccoli and chunks of zucchini are nicely presented together. The veggies still have a bit of crunch to them, just the way I like them.

The Samurai certainly knows how to cook fish, but do they know how to not cook fish? Well, you know what I mean.

That answer arrived the moment my wife’s dinner did. She ordered the Sushi Dinner Deluxe, which comes with ten pieces of sushi, and a California Roll. Ah, the California Roll. That was my fallback in my youthful days of doing the sushi bars. Happily, my memories held true and I really enjoyed my bite. It’s hard to go wrong with crab, avocado and cucumbers, especially with a dab of wasabi. This is a fusion of flavors that I can get used to.

The menu didn’t state what sushi you would get with this meal so we were more than a little curious at what would be still swimming on the plate. In this case, we were served two pieces each of tuna, white tuna, salmon, red snapper and yellow tail. I have to say that was rather an impressive line up of fish. (Thank goodness there was no eel or sea urchin. Ew!)

My wife gave me a bite of each and to be honest, I really couldn’t taste too much of difference between each. I even closed my eyes when chewing on the salmon to see if I could actually taste, you know, salmon. I couldn’t. Each piece pretty much tasted -- and felt like -- the same raw piece of fish wrapped around rice.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like it, because I did. Now, excuse me as I go wash my hands to get the fishy smell off of them. I kid, of course. I will say, that we decided that the yellow tail was the best.

Now, I think it’s time for my wife and me to go to another bar and do a few shots of whiskey. Fair is fair. Plus, I've got to kill all that raw fishy bacteria I have floating around in my stomach.

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