Dining out: Sushi Cafe

Sushi Cafe
4491 Freeport Blvd.
Monday to Thursday 11 am to 9:30 pm
Friday til 10 pm
Saturday noon to 10 pm

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, the old sitcom theme song goes. But what about when you go someplace where everybody else's seems to know each other's name-and what they don't like about each other?

We wondered that early on a Saturday night sitting at a table near the front of the Sushi Café on Freeport. We'd first sat down at the only empty table, right by the door. But it was a chilly night, and with people coming in and out, the cold was getting to us. Three folks waiting for a larger group sweetly offered to exchange tables with us so we could stay warm.

Then they started exchanging words with a woman at the sushi bar. It was one of those conversations where you, as an outsider, aren't quite sure if the hostility is joking or real. I do know that when she told one of the guys to "go home," it didn't sound fake.

But no one else seemed to care. College football was playing on two TVs, music pulsed in the background, and the sushi was flowing in the cozy environment. Much of the rest of the crowd seemed like regulars, exchanging greetings with the staff other customers, much like a neighborhood bar.

So we relaxed and settled into some good, very reasonably-priced sushi. The menu is substantial, with a full range of teriyaki, bento boxes and extensive vegetarian options. All things I rarely eat, not because I don't like them, but because if I'm in a Japanese restaurant, it's because I'm sushi-minded.

We had the USA roll, with shrimp tempura, crab, eel, avocado and masago. It might seem expensive at $11.50, but it was huge. So was the Land Park ($7.95), a roll which also included shrimp, snow crab, avocado and masago. While they seemed very similar on paper, one was more intense, the other more tangy. Though I can't remember which was which.

But my favorite was the far simpler eel roll ($5.95)-freshwater eel in a light barbecue sauce, avocado and cucumber. It was fresh, clean, crisp-and I saved it for last. We finished with some chocolate mochi ($1.25 each), a kind of ice cream with a creamy rice paste on the outside. We wanted green tea flavor, but they were out-something I'll go ahead an attribute to Sushi Café's evident local popularity.

In the end, we got out of there with two full stomachs for about $30-a nice savings for us (well, for the Capitol Weekly) over what you might normally pay for that amount of sushi. And no one said anything mean to us.

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