Friday, April 16, 2010

Sekisui (Midtown)

25 S. Belvedere

It's been nearly four years since I reviewed Sekisui Midtown. Based on my last review (which is one of my favorites), you might be surprised to learn that we eat there ALL OF THE TIME. I wanted to come back and say that a lot has changed in four years. First off, the "mean" waitress/manager is gone--so are the sushi boats, which were very distracting to the monkeys. Second, Sekisui has added a kids' menu that has great food and fun activities.

Photo by Justin Fox Burks

When the monkeys (Satchel, 7, and Jiro, 5) were small, I used to look longingly at the people who sat at the sushi bar with their (older) kids. I dreamed of the day that I too would be able to do that. Warren and I always sit at the sushi bar when we go to Sekisui on date nights, but I didn't have the guts to sit there with the kids until a couple of weeks ago.

We went on a Monday evening, 6ish, when the restaurant was not too busy. The kids were so excited to sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs in action that they barely even touched their kids' menus. (We usually have to play several rounds of Tic Tac Toe.)

We are also big fans of the actual food on the kids' menu. There's not a chicken nugget or a French fry to be found at Sekisui. They offer three choices for kids: chicken teriyaki, shrimp and vegetable tempura, and a sushi combination (California roll, shrimp nigiri, and crab nigiri). The first two meals come with steamed rice, and all three come with a choice of clear soup, miso soup, or house salad. What I like best about these offerings is the presentation and the feeling of excitement the kids get from having their own fancy dinner. The portions are hearty, and each costs just $6.95.

Satchel almost always gets the teriyaki dinner, but Jiro prefers ordering a la carte off of the larger menu. Let's talk about the nuts and bolts of the menu--it's a re-usable master piece that Sekisui created themselves after getting certified by Project Green Fork. Wet-erase markers plus laminated menus equals an annual savings of 60 reams of paper!

Okay back to the ordering. I somehow goofed and ordered Satchel the tempura dinner (probably because it's my favorite) with a tempura tofu appetizer. Jiro opted for miso soup, tempura tofu, and a crunchy shrimp roll. Warren ordered the teriyaki early bird special and I got a few sushi rolls, including the House Cucumber.

The monkeys' miso soup came right out and they started slurping. These days I remember to order it without green onion, so they have no problem getting down to business. We talked about how fun it used to be when the sushi boats used to go around the sushi bar. (Fun for them, not us!) And we talked about how nice it was that there was a whole container of kids' chopsticks by the bar. (Kids' chopsticks=adult chopsticks with a piece of paper balled up and rubber banded at the ends to make them easier to use.)

Next up was the tempura tofu which the monkeys also love. (There's a great a la carte tempura menu--check it out.) While they worked on that, Warren and I started on our House Cucumber roll. Because of the way we were sitting--Jiro, me, Satchel, and Warren in a row--I think Satchel noticed the House Cucumber roll for the first time. He likes sushi, but not all the time, and rarely orders it. Noticing the way he was looking at the cucumber roll, I offered him a piece.

"What's in it?" he asked.

"Crabstick, mayo, and roe are rolled inside a cucumber," I replied. "And it has that yummy sauce," I added motioning to the sweet, dark liquid floating underneath (a.k.a. Ponzu soy sauce).

He cautiously licked the top of the piece, then stuck his finger in the sauce. "Just pop it in your mouth and chew it up," I instructed.

He did and then I watched as his eyes lit up. "Yum!" he exclaimed. Then he went on to eat two more pieces, which made me wish I hadn't been so encouraging. Well, truthfully Warren should have regreted my generosity because he's the one who only got one piece. Come to think of it, Warren was probably even sadder when Satchel ate most of his teriyaki too.

I happily ate my spicy tuna and spicy crawfish roll and watched as Jiro snarfed down his crunchy shrimp roll. I love watching that kid eat sushi. When he was done, he went back to his kid's menu activities while Warren and I polished off the remaining tempura. We've been to Sekisui enough times now that the kids know to behave. Good behavior equals a trip next door to Baskin Robbins, and if they're lucky, a quick trip to Game Stop to fondle the merchandise. Sometimes we skip Baskin Robbins in favor of Sekisui's mochi ice cream. It's really good and quite a treat if you've never tried it.

The most awesome thing about sitting at the sushi bar? When the kids needed to go to the bathroom and wash their hands we sent them by themselves since they are just a few feet away.

The one downside of dining at Sekisui is that it does cost a little more than a standard casual dining restaurant. But it is worth every penny. All of the Sekisui restaurants participate in the coupons, so that's a great way to save money. Also, regulars can get a "club card" that gives you a credit for a small percentage of every meal. If you eat there as often as we do, that small amount adds up!

Project Green Fork Certified Restaurant
Sekisui (Midtown) on Urbanspoon

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