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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Place Report: Tenshi Sushi & Japanese Noodle

My favorite sushi experience was not my first sushi experience. Unfortunately for years my only brush with sushi was at Chinese buffets. I know what you are thinking ewwwww gross!! But please trust in my ability to not eat sushi that was disgusting. I only ate it at two or three places that I felt safe at, but I still didn't understand the difference of eating at a true sushi restaurant.

Knowing that my husband had no interest in trying sushi I went ahead and planned my birthday party at a sushi place! I know I'm a smart cookie aren't I? :o) I was just about to do or had just done a Palate Adventurers get together and I just didn't feel up to driving half way across the city for my birthday. I googled the top ten sushi restaurants and Tenshi was the only one on the north side. It is located near the intersection of Jones & Fallbrook on Jones Road.

I am going to admit to you that I was really nervous about trying raw fish for the first time. At the buffets where I felt comfortable enough to eat the sushi I still played it rather safe and did not eat anything I couldn't identify and stuck to the safer rolls such as the California Roll. After we had been seated my worry about the raw fish having a texture that I couldn't handle grew. I was making comments here and there mostly half under my breath of my worry. I finally vented my fears to my fifteen year old niece who is wise beyond her years and this is how the conversation that made my night progressed: Her: "Do you like boiled peanuts? Me: "No!" Her: "Exactly! If they were crunchy; everyone would like them. It is a texture issue. Get over it!" And folks that is just what I did.

I ended up ordering the chef's special which included a California Roll, two sushi's (raw fish on top of sticky white rice) including salmon and tuna, and two sashimi's (just plain raw fish) which was fatty tuna and yellow fin tuna. I have to say my favorite was the yellow fin tuna which was served with tiny slices of lemon that took the freshness to an even new level.

Speaking about the freshness I had mentioned before not realizing the difference between the buffet sushi and the restaurant sushi. The freshness is it. That is the difference. I have mentioned before the taste of the steam of Jason's Deli's steamed veggies. The freshness of sushi is the same; almost indescribable. The best way I can try to explain it would be to say it is literally the freshest tasting food you've ever tasted in your life. Freshness to the umpteen power!

I was also able to enjoy a friends Fried Shrimp Roll which I feel has to be American influence on sushi. We sure do like to fry things. I have to say it sure was delicious. I am sure I tried a few other's rolls, but after a certain point of everyone passing you a sample of their roll they ordered the names become fuzzy. Especially being my first time enjoying real sushi and as well being the birthday girl everyone wanted me to try everything. Which I happily obliged.

As far as beverages go I of course had to do a little Sake sipping. I would describe Sake as stronger, better tasting Vodka. I only had one tiny little cup, because if you are not careful you could find yourself very inebriated, very fast.

Tenshi happens to be a smaller restaurant. It is tucked onto the end of a small strip center. It is a very beautiful and comfortable place. They have two rooms enclosed by traditional Japanese doors you can reserve if you so choose, but me personally I always find myself wanting to be on the main floor. It makes the atmosphere of the meal for me. With my party of fifteen to twenty people we filled almost half of the restaurant, and again even though the place was on the smaller side I never felt cramped.

I tried my hardest to eat my food with the chopsticks, and every bit of me did not want to have to ask for a fork. I eventually however gave in. I have eaten sushi a few times with chopsticks since my birthday and have acquired better skill. There was just no sense at the time getting frustrated on my birthday because of two silly wooden sticks. Just as a credit to myself just the other day I had eaten almost an entire ginger salad with chopsticks alone! It was difficult, but definitely good practice.

One other thing I wanted to speak with y'all about is the to dip or not to dip question. Everyone obviously has their own palate. So when I was introduced to sushi the first time I was instructed on what to make to dip my sushi in. What I have always done is to gather about three or four pieces of ginger and place them in my sauce tray. Then I take a bee bee size of wasabi and set it on the ginger. Next I take the soy and pour a lake for the ginger and wasabi to live in. I commence mixing the things together really just to dissolve the wasabi into the soy. That is my happy mixture. I love salt therefore I love soy. I also love ginger especially as a dressing on a salad. Which I did order and enjoy.

So that evening I was told that the ginger is supposed to be used as a palate cleanser in between bites. Call me crazy and set in my ways, but I think I will be sticking to the way I've always done it. To each their own I say! One other way to eat the sushi is to not dip at all which is what I watched my niece mostly do. I did try it and the sushi doesn't necessarily need to be dipped, but like I said before I sure do like that salty, gingery, clean your sinsus' out hotness. Now I find myself doing both. Some rolls just don't pair well with my mixture and that's okay. I just try to stay open even if I am set with certain ways. I may really enjoy that, but it also won't stop me from having a few bites without.

So I have been saving the best part for last. My niece being an adventurous eater (a girl after my own heart) ordered a bite (I'm not sure what else to call it; it wasn't a whole roll) which consisted of raw fish eggs wrapped in sea weed topped with a raw quail egg. We all stared as it was brought to her, and she looked a little embarrassed with all eyes on her. I am sure she will soon learn if she has not already if you are the brave enough one to try something crazy you are most likely going to get everyone's full attention. As she placed it in her mouth and got the sushi puffy cheeks she just nodded at the fact that it was yummy and not scary or disgusting at all. What a brave one she is.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing my birthday dinning experience with you as much as I have!  Happy Reading & Eating!      <3

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