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Sushi and Green Chile Cheeseburgers and Ryan Parrott -- Oh my!

by Dave Cathey Published: November 8, 2013
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The sushi-sashimi lunch combo at Tabashi includes one California Roll and chef's choice of sashimi and nigiri.
The sushi-sashimi lunch combo at Tabashi includes one California Roll and chef's choice of sashimi and nigiri.

“Is this Jason’s Deli?” asked the 55ish gentlemen standing in the middle of a sushi restaurant next door to a Jimmy John’s.

It wasn’t. The restaurant in which he stood, Tsubaki Sushi and Hibachi, could have hardly been further from Jason’s Deli culinarily and geographically. Alas, this poor man awaited an answer.  One of the sushi chefs behind the counter, who took a break from arranging nigiri and hand-grating horseradish to make wasabi, said to the man, “Next door?”

Though his English wasn’t precision, the chef was able to discern this confused gent sought a sandwich and Jimmy John’s was as close as he was going to get on the corner of N MacArthur Blvd. and West Memorial Rd. — a  corner that not too long ago was a remote, desert wasteland for sushi lovers that is now a verdant land of plenty.

For those of us who live in far, far northwest Oklahoma City, aka east Yukon-Piedmont, sushi first arrived in September with the opening of the third Nhinja Sushi and Wok. Nhinja is a venerable fast-casual concept that serves quality, value-rich rolls and noodle bowls. Now Tsubashi has opened next to the aforementioned, misunderstood Jimmy John’s and an Orange Leaf Yogurt at 5900 W. Memorial Rd.

I witnessed the failed search for Jason’s Deli from a stool at the sushi bar inside Tsubaki, and was still basking in the afterglow of a new find. Truth is, my expectations for Tsubashi weren’t too far from the man seeking Jason’s Deli. Located in a small strip with a Valero gas station with quick-hitters like Orange Leaf and Jimmy John’s led me to expect a concept closer to Nhinja but what I found was closer to The Sushi Bar or Sushi Neko.

The miso soup packed umami by the mouthful. The salad with gingery pink dressing was bright and palate-waking. The Sushi-Sashimi sampler chosen by the chef and was as lovely to look at as eat. Nevertheless, eat it I did. Yes, it came with an obligatory California roll, but the sashimi was clean, fresh and luscious. The platter included nigiri-style versions of the sashimi, which were draped over beautifully vinagered rice.

Yes, yes, this was only my first trip and the element of surprise might’ve (probably) affected my reaction. But I did like what I ate enough to notice the restaurant sits directly between my house and my bank, which turned my elation into cautious optimism.  Tsubaki is a full-service restaurant with full-service sushi prices, which has never stopped me from indulging at the previously mentioned haunts or Tokyo Restaurant.

Next trip into Tsubaki will include the Beef Negimaki and Yellowtail Jalapeno, which sounds suspiciously like my absolute favorite sushi dish, the Yellowtail special from Sushi Neko. Tsubaki has only been open a few days, so staffing was light and ticket times were longer than expected for a sushi bar but not outrageous. This place doesn’t have a webpage, Facebook account or Twitter page, so you’ll have to discover it the old-fashioned way.

Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, among the other notable nuggets I’ve learned this week,  I found yet another thing to love about

last, is taking call-in orders. I remember when the original opened, I asked A Good Egg Dining Group president Keith Paul about the idea and he said it had been discussed but it was decided to do without it because a second register and pick-up point would be needed to accommodate phone orders. Fast forward to the present and Tucker’s is now two concepts strong, and both are accepting your call-in orders. The number for the 23rd Street location is 609-2333 and Classen Curve is 286-3331. I recommend the double with cheese and fried jalapenos…Whatever happened to chef Ryan Parrott? Well, after weathering the Tamazul fiasco, Ryan has joined Ed Lynn at Garbanzo’s, which has two are locations. Garbanzo’s is a fast-casual Mediterranean cuisine, including hummus, falafel, shawarma, kabobs and salads. Think Chipotle meets Mediterranean Deli. Ryan will try to bring his years of kitchen expertise and understanding of the Oklahoma City dining market to bolster the concept. Drop by say hi, try the falafel, I think you’ll find its worthy of finding a place on your dining rotation.

by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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