Spring is something I had never truly experienced before I moved to Akron. Having lived in northeastern Massachusetts and up, up, upstate New York (we’re talking twenty minutes from the Canadian border), Spring is basically nothing more than mud and rain and dirty snow and one day in May, something like summer shows up.
Spring is easily one of my favorite things about Akron: blooming magnolias, chartreuse buds that pompom from every tree. This is before the humidity hits, and while there’s still certainly rain, it falls with the knowledge that it’s necessary for the coolness in the breeze and the color all around us.
When it comes to beautiful food, there’s nothing that pops on a plate quite like sushi. Between the seaweed exterior, the white rice, the wasabi and the ginger alone, there’s a feast for the eyes. Sushi is almost as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. And so, on a warm-ish April evening, I decided to mirror my surroundings with my dinner and pay a visit to Sushi Katsu.
After coming upon a sizeable patio under construction (future perk for summer visits!), we entered through a side door and came upon one of my favorite restaurant interiors to date. Small enough to be intimate but large enough to seat quite a few different groups (especially when the seats at the sushi bar are taken into consideration) it was both classy and casual with many diners knowing the sushi chefs by name. You could also watch the chefs make your sushi right there in front of you! Talk about instant visual satisfaction. There was a stellar playlist with everything from Bill Withers to the Beatles to the Marshall Tucker Band to Jackie Wilson. I was into it.
Predictably, I struggled to decide what to order, though I did know two things: I wanted sake and I wanted miso soup. The sake was warm and therefore great. But the miso soup. That. Miso. Soup. I try to order miso soup as often as I can because it’s the perfect way to start any meal (i.e. light, warm, and flavorful without filling you up). Miso soup is truly an appetizer in that it genuinely primes your appetite. While I have rarely had a miso soup I didn’t like, this miso soup was the best I have ever had.
The broth was rich without being overbearing: flavorful but never sacrificing the lightness or brightness of the dish. The tofu, scallions, and wakame were plentiful and all of it steeped together in that steaming bowl was everything I’d ever hoped for in a soup. Seriously, it was incredible.
In the wake of delirious soup and sake happiness, I began to get truly excited for the main event: the sushi. Ryan and I decided to try four rolls, splitting them between us. We deliberated extensively and decided upon: the Spiderman, the Kent, the Crunch, and one of their nightly specials called the Cavalier roll, which for obvious reasons already was hard to pass up.
The Spiderman is a large, 5-piece roll with tempura soft-shell crab, cream cheese, cucumber, and eel sauce. My personal favorite piece was the one that had the crab legs clawing out of the rice. Absolutely delicious, especially when topped with ginger (I’m not a wasabi person, myself). Sushi + cream cheese is always a good call, but with that rich and savory eel sauce, it had me from the beginning.
We decided on the Kent roll because it incorporated mackerel and bonito which neither of us had in sushi before. It also showcased the ponzu sauce which is light and citrusy. This roll really allowed the fish to shine and, for that, I was happy. The fish was fresh and bright and was complemented by the slight tang in the ponzu sauce.
The Crunch was unlike any sushi roll I had eaten before. Inside was crab sticks topped with a dollop of spicy mayonnaise. It came out warm. As in I literally watched one of the chefs take it out of the pan and slice it up moments before it reached our table. Sushi fresh out of the pan and gently coated in crunchy goodness is not something I was used to, but something I could definitely get used to.
The Cavalier Roll was a smorgasbord of sushi. With tempura shrimp and spicy tuna on the inside and delicious slices of pepper seared tuna on the top along with sesame seeds and scallions, the sushi roll was just the right amount of everything: crunch, spice, density and lightness. The flavor changed with every bite. Be sure to keep an eye on the specials board for this guy!
To me, the mark of great sushi is finding a roll tastes better without soy sauce purely because the flavors are allowed to stand on their own. I can confidently say that this was the case for everything I tried at Sushi Katsu. I am already planning my next trip back.