Sushi purists usually turn their noses up at the thought of ordering a California roll, mostly because there’s no raw fish in this sushi-joint offering.
No doubt, California rolls are a logical choice for the raw-seafood squeamish — due to their swirl of cooked crab, avocado and cucumber — not to mention a tasty bento-box option for those who don’t want to commit to sashimi and nigiri during a quick lunch break. Plus, these ubiquitous fusion rolls are a great way to introduce kids to sushi.
California rolls — a kind of inside-out uramaki — were invented by sushi chefs on the West Coast back in the ‘80s. They soon became commonplace on sushi menus all the way from San Diego to Vancouver B.C. These days, diners can find California rolls at most sushi joints anywhere in the U.S., and even abroad.
A good place to munch on California rolls (and quaff Japanese rice lager and sake) is at Shogun Sushi, a bustling sushi joint that debuted a few years ago in a strip mall next to Fred Meyer — just off Federal Way in East Boise.
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The centerpiece of the décor at this diminutive eatery is the wrap-around sushi bar, where you can sit and watch the young sushi chefs working the bamboo mats behind glass cases packed with shimmering fish.
The menu keeps the focus on contemporary-leaning sushi offerings, Japanese dishes and a few Korean mainstays. This makes sense considering owner Joseph Park hails from South Korea. He picked up skills working at various sushi joints around Boise over the last eight years. His parents own and operate a Korean barbecue restaurant back home, so you could say that he has the restaurant industry in his blood.
In terms of sushi, there’s a litany of fanciful fusion rolls, cone-shaped hand rolls, traditional nigiri and freshly sliced sashimi — using a variety of fresh-as-can-be Pacific finfish. Of course you will find a California roll and some hybrid versions that come with raw fish on top.
Ordering a California roll ($5.99) will get you standard pinwheels of imitation crabstick (minced whitefish that resembles crab), avocado and cucumber — with sticky rice on the outside and a thin band of nori on the inside — served with a dab of nose-clearing wasabi and pale pickled ginger. If fake crab isn’t your thing, the restaurant offers substitutions of rock crab or deep-fried soft shell crab at an additional cost.
Many of Park’s house-made sauces for the specialty rolls borrow influence from Korea and other parts of the Pacific Rim.
For instance, the Pacific roll ($10.99) is essentially a California roll covered with thin slices of white tuna and yellowtail, finished with shaved onion, tiny pearls of masago (smelt roe), tangy ponzu sauce and pepper-kicked vinaigrette.
Or go for a Hawaiian-inspired Boise roll ($14.99), a California roll crowned with piquant poke (raw tuna tossed with spices), fiery mayonnaise and thick and dark eel sauce.
Those of you who prefer hot Nipponese offerings can choose from a lineup that includes ramen, ropy udon noodles, tempura and grilled teriyaki bowls. And let’s not forget Korean dishes such as beef bulgogi and hot-stone bibimbap.
“Dishin’ it” is an occasional visit to a local restaurant in which we focus on one dish.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: scene@ idahostatesman.com
Address: 3640 S. Findley Ave., Boise
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch) Monday-Thursday; 5 to 9 p.m. (dinner) Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday.
Menu price range: appetizers, soups and salads $1.50-$7.50; sushi items and entrées $2.50-$19.99.
Opened: November 2016