18 Jun 2010 @ 7:13 PM 

Okinawa sushi, at 124th & L. (I can’t find a website for them – sorry!)
As you may or may not have noticed, we’re big sushi fans. Omaha Critic is more about the sashimi/nigiri, while I am definitely more about the maki rolls. But when there’s a new sushi place opening, you can bet it’s on our radar. I hit up Okinawa early in the evening on their grand opening weekend. Now – I will admit, I expected there to possibly be some bumps, given that it was their opening weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. We tried the Gyoza appetizer, which was pretty good. We also tried the california roll (if a sushi place can’t do a cali roll, they need to close up!), a tempura shrimp and crab roll (I think it’s called a rocky roll), the shrimp naruto roll, and the “Golden Eagle”.

The sushi, overall, was good. It doesn’t compete with my favorite sushi place, but it was good, and better than some of the other places locally. The service was fairly good, if not really communicative. The cali, rocky roll, and naruto roll all came out together, and we had quite a while to finish them before the Golden Eagle came out. The Eagle, which we ordered on the recommendation of the server, is a tempura roll with tempura banana and a special sauce. Unfortunately, because that came out quite awhile after our other rolls, we were too full to really enjoy it, and took the majority of it home. (Cold – not so great.)

The restaurant, being brand new, was clean and nice, if a little small. The food was good, and the service fairly decent. My only complaint about this restuarant was that they charged us for refills on our drinks. Normally, this wouldn’t annoy me because most places tell you they charge – but Okinawa didn’t. Also, the server started asking if we wanted refills before we were even half way through the drinks, and did refill them far before they were empty. SO – it was just a minor annoyance, but it bugged me.

I’m feeling 3 stars on this one. Some room for improvement, but not bad overall. We’ll definitely give this one a try another time, and see if that moves up!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 18 Jun 2010 @ 07:14 PM

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 04 May 2010 @ 7:47 PM 
There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.
A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.
The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)
I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.
The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location
The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.
The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)
~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.

A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.

The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)

I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.

The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location

The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.

The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)

~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 04 May 2010 @ 07:49 PM

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 11 Nov 2007 @ 7:26 AM 

I would like to say that I have made the rounds of all the “Sushi” places in Omaha.  I am sorry to say that Matsu may never make it on the list.  I  dragged the family out for a “Friday Night” dinner and went from West Omaha, getting ready to head into Tanduri Fusion, to thinking that I needed to review something Italian.  I took the family to Lo Sole Mio and tried to get a table.  It was a 90 minute wait.

As if it were on queue, the oldest son suggested that we do Sushi.  Being as I did not want to drive out to the northwest corner of Omaha after driving from southwest Omaha, I figured we would try and subsequently review Matsu Sushi down in the “Old Market”.

I have a little hint for the management of Matsu.  If a couple bring their kids in and there are tables everywhere, don’t tell us that it’s going to be at least 10 to 15 minutes because you have to “clean tables” and then disappear to back of the restaurant leaving us to stand there.  We’ll leave and spend our $175 someplace else.

Overall impression:  Your service stinks, your wait-staff were aloof to people waiting, and I was completely unimpressed with all the dirty tables that were just left there as we waited for you to “clean one off” for us, which you never did.  After standing there for 20 minutes we got angry and left.

Pluses: It’s in the old market? (None really, I had to find something good about it)

Minuses: Enough room for 3 people to stand and wait.  Nobody to buss tables, dirty tables, and a bad sense of “you don’t matter”.  You should also watch out for the low hanging door chime.  I hit my head on it 3 times waiting with my back pressed against the door. 

(You’re wondering why I didn’t rag on Lo Sole Mio.  Because they were swamped, with a line out the door, the hostesses were attentive and tried to accommodate the 40 people waiting in line.  An attempt at service will bring understanding, ignoring me or blowing me off just tends to make me rant.)

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 11 Nov 2007 @ 07:29 AM

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 28 Sep 2007 @ 8:00 PM 

Blue Sushi 144th and Maple(ish)

Here I am again, writing about a Sushi place.  I love Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!  I can’t get enough.  Well.. Ok, perhaps I can, but don’t tell anyone.

So the other day, I had decided to take my wife to a late lunch at a local sushi bar.  Unfortunately that sushi bar was closed from 2pm – 5pm.  No big deal, we have a few Sushi places in Omaha that I.. like. (I say that knowing darn well who my favorite is!)  So we decided that Blue would make a comparable substitute.. We were only going for lunch, it was 2:15 in the afternoon.. It should be fine right?  Not busy?  One would think; right?

So we pull up to Blue.  Blue has been the “Trendy” Sushi place in Omaha for the past few years.  I remember trying to get in and the wait was 2 hours.  People were lined up outside waiting to get in.  It had to be doing something right.  That being said, we went there.  As soon as we walk in, we notice that the place is empty, save for one table with a man that was finishing his food.  That was it.  So the hostess looks over at us, and walks to the bar and talks to the Sushi chef (I suspect she was putting in a to-go order.) and eventually came to seat us.  We took the table right behind the fountain and began to look over the menu.

There are few things about Blue that really stand out. The first thing you notice in the place is the fountain.  It’s predominate position as you walk in, tries to set the stage.  This place is crisp, trendy, and modern.  The shelves behind the sushi bar are huge and there is a saltwater tank where the fish swim behind (and above) the chefs.  The walls are bright and give the place a summer air to it.  I have yet to see a waitress that wasn’t “eye-candy”.  Come to think of it, I have never seen a waiter there; Just waitresses.

When I go to Blue, there are always 2 things that I get: The Crunchy Blue and an order of Blue Balls.  The Crunchy Blue is shredded crabmeat, cilantro, eel sauce (mixed up) and then wrapped in nori and rice and coated in sweet panko bread crumbs.  Top it off with a drizzle of more eel sauce.  *ping!* It’s very tasty.  Next is the Blue Balls:  The same crab, eel sauce, and cilantro mixture, wrapped in nori, (like a little happy burrito) then dipped in tempura batter and deep fried.  They cut it on a bias, stack 4 pieces on a plate, and drizzle the eel sauce again.  Darn it’s good! 

So I get my “usual”, an order of Tuna sashimi, my obligatory Mountain Dew, and an order of sweet chili prawns.  My wife orders a few different rolls as well and we begin the wait.  The wait for the prawns wasn’t too bad.  I was very impressed with the presentation.  There were 3 giant prawns that were battered and fried, then stacked and doused in sweet chili sauce.  This was the bomb.  I think my mouth did summersaults.  My wife and I really enjoyed it.  After a while, we had finished that off and I was debating licking the plate, when my wife and I noticed there were a few gnats flying around as well as some flies.  When our sushi came, it was followed by a swarm of insects.  Every few seconds I would either kill a gnat or shoo away flies.  My wife and I noticed that there were no less than 2 flies or gnats on every table.  The place isn’t that big.  You can see almost every table in the main dining area when you’re in there.

As my wife and I ate, we became more and more inundated with flies.  I bathe people!  My wife bathes!  Flies were everywhere.  One of the rolls that my wife had was sprinkled with black sesame seeds, and as the bugs swarmed us, she looked down and noticed that the sesame seeds looked like gnats.  She pushed her plate back and was done.  We had to call the waitress over so we could get our check and a to-go container and we high-tailed it out of there.  The dogs were happy when we got home.  They ate well that day.

Overall impression: I used to be a Blue fan until it became trendy and the sushi quality suffered.  I have yet to have speedy service by an intelligent person there.  I think the staff is hired by how tight their shirt is, not by the merit of their skills.  They always seem to be more interested in goofing off in back than getting my food to me.  Unfortunately, the whole fly thing threw me off.  When I left, my stomach turned thinking about it.  They would have had a much higher rating if there were no flies because the Sushi was really good this time.

Plusses:  The sushi was beautiful.  The Sweet Chili Prawns were to die for.  The Blue Balls and Crunchy blue was great!

Minuses: Slow service, dirty silverware, the sashimi was small, and I can not even begin to say how grossed out I was by the flies.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 29 Sep 2007 @ 05:51 AM

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 31 Aug 2007 @ 1:58 AM 

After much begging by my friends and co-workers: Hiro Sushi (130th & Maple) 

Sushi or not Sushi…..


That is the typical question that we ask ourselves every Friday and Saturday night.  Hiro Sushi and Sake or Hiro and Mountain Dew….

Normally, one would have a white wine or sake with Sushi.  I have found this to be problematic as I don’t think that I’m a big white wine fan. (Unless I have a nice cheese, pate, and a big ice cold bottle of Piesporter Michelsberg.)  I like the occasional “Kita” before I have my sushi, but for during the meal, it just doesn’t work for me.  Ok, you hard core sushi fans, have you ever HAD Dew with your sushi?  Try it after having a heavily “wasabi’d” piece with a little soy; The flavors just kind of meld together.  It’s wonderful.

That being said, I tend to drag the family along so I can stuff my face with various forms of fish.  I have been to most every other Sushi place in town.  I have never been as happy with them as I am with Hiro.  The overall consistency of flavor, quality, atmosphere, and fish have been solid every time I have been there.  Ok, well, during that last heat wave the AC couldn’t keep up, but past that it has been solid.  Today I again indulged in my favorite thing on the standard menu: White tuna sashimi.  Yes kiddies, that is raw fish for the sake of raw fish.  Understand something: It has a very delicate texture but is backed with flavor.  When white tuna is coupled with soy and some wasabi, the flavor just… it… It is a nice salty experience.  Can you tell I like white tuna?

My favorite above all others is the “white salmon”.  They get it in very rarely.  The owners like to bring in new and interesting fish to see how it sells.  They had a load of this in and I swear I could have eaten the whole shipment. 

Now when it comes to service, I am very picky.  I have my tastes and expectations of what service should be.  My glass should never be empty of whatever it is I am drinking, I don’t want to sit around looking at dirty dishes, I don’t want to sit and wait forever for you to come and greet me and get me my drink order, and most of all, I don’t want to sit around waiting for my flipping check.  Nothing makes a tip go down faster than me sitting waiting for you to either bring me my bill or return with my credit card.

.

*plays sound of a toilet flushing*

.

I am happy to say that I have really never had that problem at Hiro.  Has it taken longer than I’d like?  Yes, but it has never taken way too long.  (Since I typically go during happy hour, the waiters are working their rear ends off so I understand.)  Now none of the wait staff is bad.  No matter who you have, the owners will still come by and check on you and make sure that they are taking care of you.  I have my favorites however.  If you go, you should find one waiter you are fond of and stick with them.  It would also be good to find a backup.  Whenever I go, Sammy’s the guy.  We walk in and immediately see who is working.  If Sammy’s there we wave him down. Sometimes our drink order is to the table before we are.  He knows us very well. There is other wait staff of fantastic quality; they are “Rusty” and “John” who I would honestly put on par with Sammy, I have had A+ service out of them both.  I have just been doing business with Sammy for so long… he’s just “got it”.  The waitress I had today was good.  She’s new and if she keeps it up will be very good.  My drink was never empty, she was prompt with the check, and made sure to check on us regularly. GREAT JOB!


Overall impression:  Hiro is consistent.  Top quality food, great atmosphere, traditional sushi, they let the fish speak for its self.  They have a Chinese kitchen as well that makes the best peanut butter chicken on the planet.  It is an Omaha “Must Have”.

Plusses: Freshest fish in town.  One of the owners picks it up from the airport himself and will refuse it if it’s not just right. The service is “fabu”!  The décor is simple yet elegant.  I really enjoy myself.  HAPPY HOUR! (Half price rolls!)

Minuses: Happy hour has been invaded!  It’s PACKED from 10PM – 12PM.  On hot days, the AC can’t keep up.  They need more tables (Or just one for us!)

~The Omaha Critic


P.s. Hey parents, the rocks are cool, but keep your kids out of them! It’s a decoration, not a sand box. (Oops, was that in my out loud voice?)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 31 Aug 2007 @ 02:11 AM

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