Don’t let the name fool you, Café Sushi is much more than a sushi restaurant. Since ownership changed hands in April 2011, nearly everything at Café Sushi has changed. And in a good way, too.
It doesn’t take long to figure out there’s something different about this place. Everyone working there is incredibly happy. You’ll be greeted with lots of smiles and “how do you dos,” when you walk through the door. It’s as though you’re walking into a small family restaurant.
“At the beginning of every shift, the staff is offered a family meal,” says manager Cheri Worthen. I’m not sure if a lot of restaurants do this, but if not, they should. My waitress had an immense knowledge of each item served to me. A big part of that knowledge comes from first hand experience, hence the cool thing about staff meals.
Ever year the city of Troy puts on an event called Taste of Troy. At this event, Café Sushi took home a first place award for their Katsu Chicken, a tender boneless chicken breast rolled in panko breadcrumbs and then served with curry stew, rice and pickled vegetables. Much to my surprise, this is one of the best variations on fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. After my first bite of Katsu, any skepticism I may have had about Café Sushi went flying out the window. This place is for real.
With a name like Café Sushi, your sushi better be on point, too. Plenty of choices fill the sushi menu, but if you’re like me maybe thinking about your order is no fun. Allow the chef to choose your sushi according to the size of your party.
When the platter arrived at the table, my eyes nearly popped out of my skull. Its absolutely stunning presentation and obvious freshness was mystifying. My favorite piece on the platter was the aji (mackerel). Aji is a delicate and tender fish, so much in fact that it does not come in slices rather it should be served in chunks. Though the flavor may be mild, the texture and look are tremendous. As if the aji chunks weren’t enough, the presentation includes the fish head and body. Ask your server nicely and they’ll gladly deep fry the head and body for you. Once deep fried, the aji’s natural sweetness is accentuated.
For those not looking to devour fish heads (or even more delicious fried shrimp heads), try the walu a.k.a Hawaiian butterfish a.k.a. super white tuna. Scored and gently charred then topped with Sriracha and bonito flakes, walu melts in your mouth unlike any fish I’ve previously tasted. The bonito and Sriracha lend a salty spiciness making this as memorable a bite of fish that I can remember.
Possibly the most surprising thing about Café Sushi is their dessert menu. It’s been my experience that most sushi places have fairly similar desserts – you know, green tea ice cream and such. Café Sushi, however, has a classically trained pastry chef on staff that makes magical confectionary wonderments. There are five desserts on the menu. Sadly, I only tried one – frozen lemon yuzu soufflé. Light and refreshing, the more sweet than tart soufflé had an almost air-like mouthfeel.
If all of this hasn’t convinced you, there’s also a full bar with a nice selection of craft beers, sake and Shochu. If you think you know sushi, give Café Sushi a visit and let them blow your expectations out of the water.
Originally printed in Real Detroit Weekly