2830 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA
504 894 0033
The Sake Cafe. Yep, it's more sushi in New Orleans. I know you're shocked. The Sake Cafe seems to be pitching itself up as an upmarket date place, and that's reflected in the ultra-hip decor and the hordes of highly dressed thirty-somethings gazing into one another's eyes over plates of sashimi. (Yes, we CAN pretend we actually live in upper Manhattan instead of in a malarial but curiously delightful swamp! Joy!)
We checked out the Uptown Roll ($14.00) with spicy scallops and "crunchies" inside, and chopped tuna, salmon, and yellowtail on top with tobiko and scallions. I am not sure what the national fascination with tempura "crunchies" is- unless it is simply proving that Americans really dig deep fried things - but they have found their way into almost every sushi roll in this country. I've made my peace with them. Crunchy things aside, this was a pretty good roll - the combination of cool interior and hot, richly scallop-y topping was very good.
We tried the curiously titled Never Bored Tuna ($13.00) with sliced torched tuna, cucumber, and chili sauce with masago and scallions. This was a fairly pedestrian seared tuna - sorry bout' the name- but was composed of high quality fish and was a pleasant enough variant on the theme. How many ways can sushi restaurants think of to jazz up seared tuna?
We tried the assorted sashimi ($22.00) with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white fish, octopus, surf clam, and crabstick. Sashimi lives and dies by freshness, and this was certainly very fresh, and a nice combination of different fish varieties. The Sake Cafe has a bitching shaved ice (snoball) machine for this kind of stuff. It's behind the sushi bar. Sort of mesmerizing. (Why aren't there seafood flavored snoballs on the menu? Okay, don't answer that).
Last up were the Screamer Oysters ($7.00), fresh oysters sauteed with garlic chili sauce and served with warm bread. The buttery sauce had a good flavor with a boatload of chili sauce, but was actually too hot: made it difficult to taste the oyster. I am a bit of a stud about hot food so these guys are definitely stepping on it. Would be a real standout dish if they kicked it down just a teeny little notch or two.
Verdict: the Sake Cafe is New Orlean's most atmospheric choice for sushi, although the food isn't particularly superior to the other joints in town - in other words, it's pretty good. Keep it in mind for occasions when you want to dress up and eat raw fish like all good urbanites should.