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Thursday, January 24,2013

Don’t give this grocery sushi short shrift

By Clay Fong

Winter had finally arrived with a vengeance, and single-digit temperatures prompted me to investigate eateries offering warming soups that could serve as a satisfying one-dish meal. It was Sunday, and I remembered this is the day that Sachi Sushi, nestled in the Niwot Market grocery, dishes out authentic bowls of restorative Japanese ramen.

While some may be rightfully skeptical of a sushi spot nestled in a grocery, Sachi handily distinguishes itself from chain supermarket operations that truck in fare from afar. First of all, few other venues boast a chef with the pedigree of Tsukasa-san, born and raised in Osaka, and an alum of Boulder’s Sushi Tora. As I walked into this spot at the tail end of lunch hour, I noted that the customer base mostly consisted of Asian families. Each table had ordered at least one bowl of noodle soup, and for my money, these observations boded well for the ramen.

There are three distinct varieties of noodle soup on tap. For $9 you can get a bowl with salt (shio) or soy sauce (shoyu) broth. A dollar more buys you a spicy miso base. The regular menu features multiple donburi rice bowls topped with items like baked salmon, teriyaki chicken and Korean barbecue beef. Curries freighted with chicken or beef over rice are also among the non-sushi choices. Sushi consists of reasonably simple rolls and individual nigiri anchored by such standby fish as salmon, tuna and yellowtail. I helped myself to a welcome cup of piping hot green tea, while the low-key sushi chef crafted a roll stuffed with spicy yellowtail, avocado and cucumber. While such a choice may be skirting the edge of what would be authentic fare in Japan, it was an appealing choice for $6.25. What I got was a more than fair helping of eight pieces of sushi, ringed by expertly prepared rice, lightly dusted with toasted sesame seeds.

The fish was better then one would expect at this price, featuring a fresh oceanic flavor. Crisp cucumber and buttery avocado provided a cooling counterpoint to the red pepper-based spicing. In retrospect, I might have been better off getting the non-spicy version, as the peppery seasoning detracted a bit from the subtler tones of the clean-tasting seafood.

My main course of shoyu ramen was a far cry from the dime-a-pack stuff favored by starving students. While ramen noodles of all sorts share similar size and texture, it was the adornments and broth that made this preparation stand out. The pleasantly textured noodles were adorned with a colorful mix of sweet corn kernels, ringlets of scallion and strips of pickled red ginger. Slices of roast pork, a morsel of white fish cake set off by a curlicue of red, and half a hard-boiled egg contributed additional heft. A meaty richness permeated the soup, with a hint of saltiness lightened by the flavorful vegetables. For a second, I imagined myself as a Kurosawa warrior hero, fed this hearty soup as a reward for protecting hapless villagers.

Perhaps that’s the most you can ask for from a family-friendly Japanese joint in Niwot. While Sachi Sushi eschews trendy presentation and ambience, it never fails to deliver unpretentious fare that leaves the diner more than content.

Sachi Sushi is located at 7980 Niwot Road in Niwot. Call 303-652-0238.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com


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