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Restaurant Review: 40 Tempura

June 13, 2011

After our disastrous visit to Kamei Sushi, a friend of ours recommended that we give 40 Tempura a shot.

On first entering 40 Tempura, we knew it was going to be a higher class of restaurant. The decor was very minimalistic, but with bold colors, and the sorts of small details that make a really cohesive decor theme. I was especially tickled by the star-shaped chopstick rests and real wooden chopsticks. Those who have seen my bento box lunches know that I’m a sucker for a cute detail element.

The server was quite willing to talk to us about my allergies, and went to go check with the sushi chef on the various things we asked him about, especially the sesame seeds. He assured us that he would keep an eye out for any stray seeds.

We ordered wasabi tobiko for an appetizer while we looked over the extensive menu. The pieces that came were a little smaller than I’m used to, but the layer of rice on the bottom was just enough to give the piece stability, and all the rest was wasabi tobiko, making it an almost delicate appetizer. It was a nice balanced wasabi tobiko, with a sweet base and a strong wasabi flavor, but not too overwhelming. A very good start to the meal.

Our fancy rolls were a cucumber roll called the Black Diamond and a Dragon roll. The knife work on the cucumber was very good, and the tuna filling was almost buttery. Moose was not a fan of the cucumber roll itself, but I kind of figured he wouldn’t be. A cucumber roll isn’t exactly his thing, but I really enjoyed it. The Dragon roll was very nicely rolled, with a good tight blend of the pieces across the rolls, and the pieces of fish used for the outer layer were all nice and mild.

Our choices for the basic rolls were the shrimp tempura and the California roll. The shrimp tempura sauce was almost like a mole sauce, a little spicy, a little chocolatey. Moose didn’t like it much, but I’m a fan of mole sauce, so I didn’t find it quite as off-putting as he did. It was definitely different, but not a bad thing. The California roll was very good. I’m not sure what was in the crab mix they were using, but it was quite tasty.

Lastly, we tried one of 40 Tempura’s signature rolls, a tempura roll called the Maui roll. Unfortunately, we realized that there was sesame on the spicy tuna only after I had a piece. Whoops. Moose has decided that we have a new rule for sushi eating. To wit: “No more spicy tuna for you. If you want spicy tuna, put some damn wasabi on it.” The piece I had was very good, though. The tempura coating was not too heavy, and the spicy tuna had a nice bite to it. Moose didn’t like this much for the same reason that he didn’t like the shrimp tempura. The Maui roll had the same sauce as the shrimp tempura, and that combined with the spicy mayo gave it a flavor that Moose called “muddled.”

All things considered, 40 Tempura is quite good. And my little misadventure aside, we’ll probably put 40 Tempura in our regular sushi rotation. We’ll just make sure not to order the spicy tuna next time.

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