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Friday, August 23, 2013

A birthday dinner at Ege Sushi

My friend Bette Harrison's birthday was last week, so Wayne and I took her to dinner at Ege Sushi and Japanese Cuisine. The restaurant, on Roswell Road in Marietta, is around the corner from Bette's home and she said it's constantly crowded.

Critics and Yelp reviewers almost unanimously adore the place. They love it so much that, according to one Yelper, the owners' website once asked people to keep the 29-seat restaurant secret. Maybe. I doubt it. Then again, the voice mail message there is static.

I didn't have the same apocalyptic experience many of the Yelpers did. My resistance was due, in part, to the look of the place. It's pretty ramshackle and needs sprucing up. The service, however, was top-notch, if a little rushed.

Udon with tempura veggies
My favorite was a dish I've never had before - chicken gizzards fried in potato starch and served with a light ponzu sauce. I've had gizzards grilled on skewers yakitori-style, but this was new and addictive. I also ordered my usual spider roll and salmon-skin roll. The spider roll's soft-shell crab tasted like it had been fried sometime earlier and totally lacked that burst of juicy saltiness one expects. The other roll's crispy salmon skin was better. I've eaten plenty of these where the skin was anything but crispy, so I give Ege props. I do usually prefer the skin in a hand roll with a dollop of super-rich Japanese mayo.

Wayne ordered another dish I've never seen before - uni tororo. It's made with shredded Japanese yams into which blobs of uni are deposited. Wayne liked it, but the slimy texture put me off. He also got a plate of sashimi that he totally liked until I pressed him to tell me what was so good about it. He amended his evaluation to "OK."

Bette ordered a bowl of udon noodles cooked with some pretty strong fish broth. She chose tempura-fried vegetables to top the bowl. While she found the broth too fishy, I thought it was quite tasty. She took most of it home to her two cats. (Fang loved it. Katie passed.)

Obviously, we didn't focus on sushi during our meal. I did ask the chef at the sushi bar what was good that day. He said, "It's all good."

I reframed my question: "Okay, but what do you recommend?"

He again assured me everything was worth trying. I gave up and ordered my gizzards.

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