It isn’t often enough I get the chance to bromance it up with local restaurateur David Rasp, but when I do it’s pretty darn good. As the owner of three restaurants (Royal Scam and two Heroes locations), Rasp has a nose for good food and his finger pretty much on the pulse of our dining scene.
Recent months have seen our friend on a health kick, leaving him fit and trim, but don’t be confused. Even with limitations on carbs, red meat and other wonderful hazards, if a man is closer to 7 feet tall than I am to 6, he can still put away some groceries.
Rasp has been singing the praises of Wasabi, his latest sushi craze located in the same parcel of land as Babies“R”Us and Half Shell. It really is a daunting parking lot to venture in and out of, but for this kind of grub he readily braves the traffic at Interstate 65 and Airport Boulevard.
I ate at Wasabi long ago for lunch and was very satisfied, but dinner is a much more elegant experience. He actually beat me to the restaurant for our meetup, which is rare. The little fellow must have been hungry. Before him, untouched, was a salad of sorts and he patiently stared at it as I walked in.
Now, to know Rasp is to know when he frequents a place he gets to know the staff. I have since been unable to find this salad on the menu and we weren’t charged for it, so I have to wonder if this was something they threw together for him because of his frequent flyer miles. Either way, we dug in four sticks deep, savoring bits of tuna (and salmon, if memory serves) with tobiko and sesame seeds with matchstick veggies over lettuce. A dollop or two of Sriracha had us reaching for the hot sake. I’ll ask for this again.
Of all the sushi joint appetizers out there, the Tuna Tataki ($11) is always worth a shot. This seared tuna dish was better than most examples, rare as can be and with a tasty Ponzu sauce. We acted as if we were not keeping score of how many slices each of us had taken but he knew. I knew, too. Even though dinner was on me, he was offered the last piece.
We weren’t about to get into the hibachi or fried rice. Noodles or steak or dumplings were not on our radar. Not tonight, anyway. We were here for the sushi. Since this is really his find, I bowed out and encouraged him to order the rolls. The one he recommended was the Beauty Devil ($14). It lives up to its name with beautiful yellow color topped with jalapeño rings and dots of Sriracha suggesting the latter half of its name. It’s another item not found on the menu, so we have put our heads together to guess that inside the golden soy paper we have scallop, crab, tuna and avocado. We could be wrong, but we also don’t care. Once it touched my tongue my eyes glazed over. Rasp eats this one biweekly at least and still doesn’t know, so I believe his reaction is the same.
The Kamakazi Roll ($14) was another excellent choice. This was our one stab at trying something tempura, in this case shrimp, with spicy tuna wrapped inside soy paper. It was topped with tuna, salmon and avocado and, I believe, eel sauce. You wouldn’t say no to this one, I assure you.
For a different take (outside of the fact everything we’ve eaten so far contained tuna), the Suzuki Roll ($14) fit the bill. With tuna, salmon and yellowtail on the inside, this hearty roll was topped with crunchy crab, avocado and tobiko. I had a hard time not declaring it my favorite.
So here we were, a couple of old friends yakking on about Mobile’s restaurant scene, trying to pretend to be on a moderately strict diet of apparently rice and fish, when it hit us. What kind of review would this be without ordering dessert? It looked relatively inexpensive. We must give readers a glimpse at what Wasabi offers in their postgame.
Basically they have tempura fried banana, ice cream, cheesecake or tempura fried ice cream or cheesecake ($4.50 each). For less than five bucks you know what we ordered. He got the fried ice cream and I had the fried cheesecake. Or was it the other way around?
I was expecting maybe cheesecake bites. What I got was a wedge the size of a smaller piece of pizza but maybe 2 inches thick. This monster was covered in whipped cream and chocolate syrup and was bad to the bone. Maybe it could be the dessert of decadence in these parts. Of course we both gnawed on this before our attention turned to the ice cream.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the scoop of ice cream was nearly the size of a softball. I didn’t have one on me to compare it side by side, but it was big enough that we left half of each dessert on the table, warning the two girls at the spot next to ours that if they feel like dessert they should only order one. Amid the gasps and giggles we made our exit.
I don’t think of Wasabi as a “something for everyone” place. The menu is just about the right size. I am certain there is another area they excel at, but we just needed the sushi fix. It is a place where one can satisfy those cravings with another in tow who doesn’t touch the stuff. It was also nice to see that should I bring my kids they do have the option of nuggets, fries or tempura sweet potatoes. The MacDonald boys will be there soon.
A great find, worth the trip over the interstate. Wasabi was just right. What other gems are you hiding from me, David Rasp?
Wasabi Sushi & Noodles
3654 Airport Blvd., #C