Serving up a solid selection of maki and more, this Panorama Mall sushi chain has us clicking our chopsticks for more.
Cravings should never be taken lightly. For avid foodies such as us, they’re our bodies’ ways of telling us to strap in and indulge in a little self-care (in moderation!). Some of us crave chocolate or pasta, pizza or fried chicken…but us? We crave sushi.
Sashimi-slice-it, nori-wrap-it, maki-roll-it, it’s our go-to comfort food. Filling, flavourful, fresh – (and mainly healthy) – it’s a treat we enjoy practically guilt-free. Always on the lookout for decent Japanese dining in the capital, on this particular weekend we were in the mood for something fast and filling but not up for super-fancy sit-down dining.
Instead we found ourselves heading back to Wasabi Sushi at Panorama Mall – a place we’d frequented on just one other occasion many months back. We were pleasantly surprised then at the value for money and wanted to see if it still held up to our original first impression.
Though we arrive around dinnertime on a Saturday evening there’s no peak rush to be found. One thing we’ve noticed about the restaurants located on the second floor of Panorama Mall is that they suffer from a lack of foot-traffic that can ultimately harm their bottom line. Which is a shame because there are some very unique offerings to be found here.
Located adjacent to the long-decommissioned The Yellow Chilli restaurant and across the upper level rotunda from Mooyah, Wasabi Sushi’s vibrant lime green interior is virtually unmissable. Sadly, it and Mooyah are the only two outlets on this top floor that remain open…with the Savannah BBQ outlet across from it also closing its doors – for what we hope is simply a renovation ahead of a revived comeback.
With one wait staff on-hand and two sushi chefs behind the central island kitchen, we’re the only customers in the place. Tucking into a comfortable booth in the back, we stare up at the TV screens around the restaurant – cameras trained on prep area where customers can watch their orders made freshly-rolled before their eyes.
Wasabi Sushi’s menu is fairly expansive and offers a good selection of special items and unique maki rolls – like their deep-fried volcano roll, and the Chef’s special which is a bit of a ‘kitchen-sink’ kind of catch-all roll. We know we’re here for maki though, and get directly down to it, ordering up a portion of their Spicy Maguro Futomaki – a spicy tuna roll with avocado, carrots and cucumber, their Black Puppies roll – an oddly-named selection of maki stuffed with crabstick, fresh veg, and Japanese mayo that gets it name from its topping of black fish roe, and their signature Dragon Roll – a perennial favourite packed with tempura prawns, avocado and veg, and topped with tun, salmon, and teriyaki unagi (eel).
We also order up a warming bowl of their vegetable Crispy Noodle Soup to get us started along with our soft drinks. The service is fast – as to be expected given we’re the only ones there. We settle in to wait for our order and take in our surroundings. Given its blazing lime-green interior you’d think the space would require a pair of sunglasses in order to dine in, but the interior is actually quite dimly lit in contrast. If it were a packed dining room, this would create a nice ambience…but when you’re the only table there it can feel a bit eery and cavernous.
Our Crispy Noodle Soup is first up to arrive, piled high with nest of delicately fried rice vermicelli submerged in a warming miso-based broth. There are silky pieces of tofu, plump shiitake mushrooms and delicate strips of nori that lend a delicious depth-of-flavour to the broth. Though, we would have preferred a wider selection of veg as essentially this is simply a miso soup topped with some noodles. But we’re not complaining…the flavour is strong and it warms us inside and out.
Up next our Dragon Roll and Black Puppies roll arrive to the table. Beautifully presented the dragon roll is a colourful swath of pink salmon and blushed tuna, with cucumber ‘horns’ and a prawn tempura ‘tail’. The delicate sweetness of the teriyaki unagi is moreish and each piece plump with delicious crispy tempura prawns offset by creamy avocado. With a little dollop of wasabi on top – these don’t last long.
It’s worth pointing out that for the price you’ll pay at some other mid-range sushi chains for a six-roll serving – at Wasabi Sushi they up the ante to eight rolls, making it a better value for money.
The Black Puppies rolls however leave us wanting more. A bit of a misnomer the only thing ‘black’ about them is a small dollop of black roe on top. We thought they would at least be rolled entirely in the small black pearls to warrant the gimmick. The crabstick and veg inside, while packed plentifully is a little dry for our taste and begs for a heftier dollop of Japanese mayo per bite.
However, the Spicy Maguro Futomaki makes up for it. Packed inside and out with deliciously fresh, perfectly sliced pieces of tuna offset again by creamy avocado it’s a winner – though spicy it’s not. Instead the spicy mayo is drizzled over the bottom of the plate which takes away somewhat from the full effect of the roll, but it still earns our favour for its amazing freshness and quantity of tuna it boasts for its price point.
Were there some hits and misses? Yes. But we still left feeling happy and full overall – taking our leftovers home for an evening snack later. Matters of seasoning can always be adjusted – but freshness? Not so easily… And here at Wasabi Sushi fresh fish is most certainly the hero of the menu – one that doesn’t need to be hidden under lashings of condiments.
Second floor, Panorama Mall, Bausher
Opening hours: 12 noon till 10:45 p.m., daily
Contact: (+968) 2459-3385
Dinner for two: RO18.7
Filling and fast sushi at exceptional price points with enough array of other Japanese offerings to easily satisfy the picky
eater in your bunch.
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