Yanagi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., June 4, 2010
Yanagi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar4404 W. William Cannon Ste. B, 891-0989
Monday-Thursday, 11am-2:30pm, 4-10pm; Friday, 11am-2:30pm & 4-11pm; Saturday, noon-11pm; Sunday, closed
Another sushi restaurant in the heart of a strip mall, this one is laid-back and cool, and neither too fancy nor "strip-mall-ish." Sushi is prominent, but other simple Japanese dishes such as udon noodles, teriyaki, donburi, and katsu are also on the menu, along with a small selection of Korean dishes. Appetizers range from the ubiquitous edamame ($3.95) and yakitori ($4.95) to house creations and salads. Business is brisk, especially at lunch, but the staff is very efficient and friendly, and a warm, polite welcome is the norm. Lunch specials are a good deal here, especially the ample bento boxes, which come with entrée of choice, miso soup, three generous pieces of vegetable tempura, four pieces of the standard California roll, a fresh salad with carrot-ginger dressing, and sticky steamed rice topped with sesame seeds and bonito powder. The tonkatsu ($8.95) was tender and golden, not greasy, served with the traditional sweet-savory-spicy tonkatsu sauce. The salmon teriyaki ($11.95) is a generous portion of lightly grilled, moist salmon fillet glazed with a savory teriyaki sause, which I usually shy away from as they tend to be too sweet.
Lunch specials also include sushi, of course. A variety of nigiri, sashimi, and roll combinations come with miso soup and range from $6.95 to $22.95 (this one includes a whole signature roll, four pieces of sashimi, and five nigiri). The fish is fresh and artfully presented, with the nigiri pieces just the right size. Another sashimi special, the tuna tataki ($13.95) was a hit, with barely seared tuna drizzled with ponzu and nestled in thin strands of daikon dressed with a spicy soy and chile oil sauce. The sushi bar produces a large quantity of signature rolls, including some of the standards that are found pretty much everywhere. But they also have some interesting and tasty originals, like the Hot Night Roll: crunchy shrimp tempura, crab, and cucumber topped with spicy tuna, eel sauce, and the spicy (indeed!) house sauce. I also liked the Sexy Roll – tuna, salmon, whitefish, crabmeat, and vegetables wrapped in thin ribbons of cucumber without rice – and the Green Land Roll: cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and other vegetables wrapped in soy paper, topped with ponzu and ginger sauce.
Overall, there's nothing especially outstanding about Yanagi, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Fresh sushi, friendly service, and a menu that includes something for everyone are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.