Sushi and Sake brings the flavor closer

<>by Clare Batty
Gone are the pastas and pizzas of the old Tomato Cafe, which has moved to a new site.  Sushi and Sake has moved in and, in place of the buffet line, there's a dazzling workspace for three sushi chefs.  At Sushi and Sake, sushi is more than just morsels of fish - it is an edible masterpiece.
  Before visiting Sushi and Sake, I initially assumed that it would just be another typical sushi restaurant for adults with the usual rice and fish rolls and sake on the side.  Instead, the restaurant exceeded my expectations with its diverse menu and family-friendly atmosphere.  When I went with my family on a Saturday night, most of the patrons were young families; parents nibbled on sushi pieces while their kids slurped up the noodles and used conjoined chopsticks.
  We sipped our complementary miso soup while reviewing the list of sushi offerings. The "Regular Rolls" category had 30 different options, including standards (like the Spicy Tuna Roll) and some oddities (such as the Pizza Roll).  From that section, we ordered a savory Spider Roll($7.99) and a classic California Roll ($4.50). From the nigiri sushi section (carefully shaved slices of raw fish on a finger-sized bed of rice), we chose mackerel, yellowtail and tuna (each selection included two pieces and cost $4). One of the unique specialties that we ordered was the Love Love Jalapino (5.99), a deep-fried crunchy jalapeno, stuffed with cream cheese and spicy tuna tempura.  However, another roll enticed me:  the Mango Tango ($9.50). Stuffed with mango and shrimp, it had a slightly sweet taste that complimented the wasabi citrus dressing. The mango and fish eggs on top provided an eye appealing array of bright sunshine colors. Who would've thought that fruit and sushi would make
such a delectable combination?
   After our round of sushi, we shared a yellowtail salad($5.99).  The tender, marinated fish was mixed with crunchy seaweed and crisp onion and tossed in light sesame oil.
   Although the restaurant does offer other Japanese dishes, such as teriyaki, uron noodles and tempura, we decided to order two Korean entrees.  First, we started with a healthy portion of bibimbob with pork ($11.99). The most unusual aspect of the dish is the vessel that it is cooked in: a stone bowl heated to 400 degrees. Inside the bowl, the chef arranged the marinated pork, vegetables, rice and fried egg in layers.  At our table, the dish sizzled as the restaurant owner mixed the ingredients in the bowl to cook it evenly.
  Next, we tried a huge bowl of yookyejang ($10.99): a bright red flavorful beef stew mixed with clear vermicelli noodles and vegetables.  The fragrant stew was so exotic, we couldn't even recognize the ingredients.  Since it was served with white rice, we assumed that we should pour the stew over a mound of rice.   The rice absorbed the spicy liquid and made a savory combo.
  Our feast concluded with a light confection of fresh oranges, strawberry mochi balls and whipped cream.
  I would recommend visiting Sushi and Sake for lunch (Monday through Saturday), where you can choose from a variety of bento boxes, or for dinner to sample the restaurant's extensive sushi and Korean specialties.

     Address: 5901-L Wyming Blvd.
     Phone:(505) 797-8000
     Closed on Sunday