January 11th, 2011 by Jihye Chang
Samurai Japanese Cuisine in Fargo has been open for only a few weeks, but it has already generated a lot of buzz. (Last week I got 2 emails from my friends urging me to check it out!)
I have so far tasted their Chirashi, Mackerel (saba) sushi, Ikura (salmon roe) sushi, spider roll, volcano roll, green curry with tofu, shrimp and vegetable tempura and tempura ice cream. I was skeptical at first as they have such a huge menu that ranges from nigiri sushi to Singapore noodle and general Tso’s chicken, but everything I had was surprisingly good.
First of all their fish quality is probably the best in town. The white tuna and salmon on my chirashi were of very good quality. (although it did not have a lot of fish considering the price at $17.95) Many new restaurants tend to put out their best in the first few weeks and then eventually downgrade. But I hope the ingredient quality at Samurai will continue to be good.
I also liked the way they cook their sushi rice. (In my humble opinion, sushi is as much about rice as it is about fish.) Of course you can’t compare it to the sushi you eat at great restaurants in Japan, where the sushi master takes amazing amount of care for their vinegar, rice, particular kind of salt, etc. But at least it was not sticky or gummy or too sweet as some of other sushi places in town, and the rice-other ingredients ratio was very good as well.
Ikura sushi was good enough, but the seaweed outside was a bit dried out. Probably it would be better if I sit at the sushi dai and eat the sushi as soon as it’s made. Spider roll and saba sushi were good, too. Volcano roll was tasty but probably won’t order again as it’s a bit too big and on the pricey side without being special.
Shrimp tempura was very good. Japanese tempura is not made with panko, and it should have light and crispy texture to it. The tempura at Samurai was better than any other tempura that I had in town. To my taste it had a bit too much little “tempura flowers,” but still very crispy and light. The shrimp quality was good, and the oil was drained very well. Tempura sauce was also good.
Thai green curry was tasty, too. Unusual to have fried potato pieces in Thai curry, but everything else was well balanced and it was made with good ingredients. Salad and miso soup are OK. I looked at other tables, and all the food looked good. (Pad Thai, Crab cake, tuna dumpling, etc.)
I talked to the manager, John, for a little bit. I asked him how he manages to have such a big menu, and he told me that there is a “master top chef” who knows everything in the kitchen, and there is also a chef only dedicated to doing teriyaki stuff. There are also 2 sushi chefs at the sushi dai. Interior is very modern and minimal, (the blue light makes you feel like you are in the Tron: Legacy!) and the service is good. Since my husband liked eating at Samurai and won’t refuse to go, I think I will be back for sure. At least it’s worth trying for more than once, just to check out the menu.
They don’t have a website up yet, so here are a few essential information:
Address & Phone number: 1775 45th Street South, Suite B/ 701-356-8882
Open hour: Monday-Thursday 11am till 10pm (11am – 3pm, lunch hour)/ Friday and Saturday 11am till 10:30pm/ Sunday noon till 9pm
Miso soup $2.5, Tom Yum Soup with shrimp $3.95
Samurai seafood salad $10.50
Gyoza $4.95, Beef negimaki $7.50, Crab cake with pineapple salsa $6.95, Shrimp tempura $7.50
Usual items for nigiri sushi and sashimi from $4.50-$7.95
Many choices for special rolls and what they call “sashimi roll” $4.95 – $19.50/ Chirashi $17.95/ Unagi-don $15.95
Fusion Asian entrees such as lychee duck, grand manier shrimp, soft shell crab Thai style
Other items include Thai curry and basil sauce stir fries/ Japanese noodle soup (Udon)/ Chinese items such as eggplant with garlic sauce and Genera Tso’s chicken, Japanese teriyaki, etc.
UPDATE (as of February 10, 2011) - I have visited three more times after this initial review and tried many other dishes. I think sushi is still OK, and some Thai dishes (green curry and pad Thai). Udon was not good at all (broth was salty and not flavorful/ had same vegetables as the Tom Yum), and the tempura had an odd detergent (?) taste.
Still a very nice service, good sushi rice, and variety that a lot of my friends liked. Not sure if I want to keep this in “Good eats in America” category, but it’s the best Asian/Japanese restaurant in FM area in my opinion.