I recently realized that my trend of reviewing sushi restaurants for derryX.com couldn’t be complete without a proper sushi evaluation at my favorite sushi restaurant, Sushi Tei. I wrote a review last year, but it was during a time when I wasn’t eating rice, and, after all, the name “sushi” really refers to rice anyway.
I mentioned that Sushi Tei is my favorite sushi restaurant in the area. It’s a humble, average-costing, and top quality establishment. Those three attributes really set it apart from all other restaurants in the area.
So on the evening I decided to showcase the sushi, I actually started my dinner with an appetizer. It was a pork belly and kim chee stir fry ($8). It was a special of the day and was actually spelled with the Japanese spelling, “kimuchi,” which confused me for a little while.
This dish was very interesting. The flavor and heat from the chile was very prominent in every bite, but the pickling from the cabbage didn’t permeate the pork belly. The pork belly was sliced thinly and wok fried along with the kimchi. It was a little tough, but that’s because the quick heat of the wok isn’t optimal for pork belly, which has distinct regions of fatty and lean meats. It was fun to pick through and basically see pieces of pork that looked like shriveled bacon slices. Even though the meat was tough, I enjoyed this, mainly because I love kimchi.
My sushi deluxe dinner ($18) came with either soup or salad. I opted for the salad which is usually the whitest part of iceberg lettuce with some cucumber, tomato, and a ginger dressing.
You’ve seen that 100 times.
What I really like about Sushi Tei is that you never have to wait long for your sushi!
The platter came with a tuna roll, and 10 pieces of nigiri (fish on top) sushi. Mackarel, red snapper, salmon, yellowtail, white tuna, and regular tuna. The fish is all served slightly chilled with the rice very close to room temperature.
The rolls have the right balance of rice to fish. They’re also packed just right so that they don’t fall apart as you pick them up.
The nigiri are also formed so that each piece can withstand a little jostling. And that’s good, because each piece gets picked up, by hand, and grazed upside down in derryX sauce (all of the wasabi on the plate thinned out with just enough soy sauce to barely make it fluid). The reason for the upside down graze is so that the rice doesn’t pick up the soy sauce and wasabi; it can pick up too much. The intent is to flavor the fish slightly in the soy sauce and wasabi.
Where Sushi Tei stands out is in the seasoning of the rice. Eaten alone, it has a balance of sweet from the sugar and sour from the rice vinegar that are added to the special sticky rice used for sushi. Eaten with the fish, the pickled rice helps to flavor the fish. All of the fish have their own taste, texture, and character, and the key is that all are served at the height of freshness.
If you have not yet tried Sushi Tei, and you enjoy sushi and don’t appreciate the over-the-top, expensive, and mediocre places in the area, it’s probably time you check it out.