Eye on the sharp knife
Tsuki Sushi2210 Lake Washington Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Unlike Oshima Sushi in Natomas, the luster of Tsuki Sushi wanes when measured against commuting there, unless one is a West Sacramento resident. Its faults are sandpapered somewhat by its proximity in a tasteful tilt-up, Grand Empire-evoking strip mall containing both a Lowe’s to facilitate the hungry home builder and a Streets of London Pub to wash down any woes.
Tsuki is clean and comfortable. The service is attentive and, at least in the case of Quang’s Salad, stunningly speedy. The almost-an-entree dish is a poor man’s Tony Salad at Nishiki in Midtown—the mound of slender cucumber curls and sprouts is smaller, as is the assortment of seafood, although the jalapeños are better disguised engendering more than a few startling dining moments.
The sushi scores higher than the other offerings, as it should since it’s part of Tsuki’s name. There’s a certain amount of prejudice in this pronouncement because of palate predilection to raw-fish bits.
But, prejudice aside, the assessment is buttressed by a cauldron of the house specialty udon noodles. The dashi bonito broth is the real deal, as are the halyard-girth noodles. Then things start to go awry. Going from most to least, the dish is profaned by an overabundance of broccoli, which, although defined in this space as one, in the case of the house specialty, is a plethora by any objective yardstick. There’s a lifetime supply of zucchini half-moons as well.
The primary meat, of which there is plenty, is chicken liver. The beef slices trend strongly toward fatty, the shrimp buried beneath the reef of noodles are added to the broth too early and the faux crab is aptly named. One half-circle of fish cake seems skimpy. Much would be improved by a generous portion of white onion paddles and a fleet of scallions.
So while a tier or two below Taka’s and the guys at Sapporo Grill, Nishiki and Momiji, the sushi at Tsuki certainly compares quite favorably when measured against several of the menu’s other options. This is not to say there is a lack of creativity behind the counter.
The St. Patrick’s Day special, still special in April, is an appealing amalgam of tempura shrimp, maguro, salmon, hamachi and sprouts in a soy wrap set off by a smoky teriyaki sauce. The maestro has a gift with spice—never overbearing but eventually obvious. A case in point is the Dynamite Roll that initially elicits one of those “This is how you define spicy, buckwheat?” pronouncements. The words are eaten as a sneaky, slow-fused after-burn shifts smoothly into first gear and quickly ascends to fifth. No eye-watering or astonished gasps occur. It’s a precision strike, like when America’s smart bombs don’t do something stupid like land on a hospital or an orphanage.
The mix of spicy tuna, cucumber, maguro, green onion and masago, while not arid, could benefit from a tad more spicy mayonnaise and chili sauce. Not drenched, Mikuni-like, just ratcheted up a skosh.
There’s some red chunks of something that, while edible, should not be lurking in the wakame, which also doesn’t seem as fresh as it might be. There’s been some fun had naming the chef’s creations—the River Cat and Harbor rolls, for example.
In the baked roll category, the Enchilada is a well-balanced mix of ebi, crab salad, scallop and green onion enlivened by barbecue and garlic sauces. And since Tsuki is near the corner of Jefferson and Lake Washington boulevards, there’s a Jefferson roll, consisting mainly of tempura shrimp, crab salad and avocado. An interesting appetizer proves to be gobo chips, flat rectangles of burdock root, which is also prized for its medicinal value, although not likely in the form of chips. While a little greasy and blandish, the root rectangles provide a stunning counterpoint to an Antarctic chilled Sapporo.
While there are some flaws at Tsuki, among them being it seems a bit pricey for what is delivered, there are more good moments than bad—just stay close to the man with the sharp knife behind the counter.