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A trip to Little Tokyo

Executive Dining

Little Tokyo II, Ridgeland

When the original Little Tokyo opened its doors nearly a dozen years ago, many of our local nay-sayers gave it less than a year`s duration. Happily, and contrary to that particular passel of prognosticators, Little Tokyo is not only rapidly advancing towards its twelfth anniversary, but Little Tokyo II has just celebrated its first.

If you`re not familiar with the cuisine, Little Tokyo and Little Tokyo II provide the Capitol City with its only sushi bar.

Little Tokyo offers a myriad of appetizers that have nothing to do with sushi. There are gyoza (fried dumplings), shumai (steamed dumplings), teriyaki dishes, tempura dishes, negima (melted cheese rolls), soft-shell crab, etc. We, however, usually opt for the sushi and for seating at the sushi bar where we can watch the artists at work. Our favorites are from the Nigiri sushi (two pieces per order) and include tuna, smoked salmon, abalone, scallop (which is cooked, by the way) and shrimp. Maki rolls (six per serving) include cucumber, California, soft-shell crab, shrimp tempura, etc. These are priced from $2.50 to $9.75, while the former run from $2 to $4.25. Several of these dishes are cooked so one doesn`t have to eat raw seafood if one is partaking of sushi.

Sushi also comes in various combinations. The sushi dinner includes six pieces of California roll (for which the asparagus roll may be substituted) together with one piece each of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, octopus, shrimp, crab, whitefish and smelt roe.

Any meal begins with miso (Japanese soybean-curd soup) and an iceberg salad with bean-curd dressing. The soup is light and quite excellent while the salad is as mundane as it is foreign to a truly authentic Japanese restaurant.

Dishes vary from teriyaki (chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon, swordfish and tuna broiled in teriyaki sauce) to tempura (a lightly battered and fried mixture of chicken or seafood mixed with a variety of vegetables, in specie), sukiyaki (a type of Japanese stew), chicken or pork cutlets and several other choices. These are priced from a low of $7.50 for vegetable tempura to a high of $16 for a deluxe dinner of tempura, California roll and beef teriyaki along with soup, salad, rice and ice cream.

One interesting option for the gustatory adventuresome is the una-juy – broiled eel served over rice with a special sauce. We enjoyed it but, admittedly, it`s not for everyone.

My companion and I usually opt for a sushi combination plate and the seafood tempura, which we halve between us. This gives us a good sampling of two primary types of Japanese cuisine. It includes five types of seafood plus veggies. The shrimp are large, butterfliied and fried to a perfect turn. Scallops are the same. Only the “krab” leaves something to be desired. We have enjoyed fried sweet potatoes, summer squash, zucchini, red bell pepper and various other selections.

Pass on the green-tea ice cream. It is seriously lacking in taste. If you need a dessert, try the ice cream tempura or the banana tempura.

Lunch for children includes tempura fruit and rice, sans soup and salad, and is priced at $4.45. Dinner is $6 and includes chicken teriyaki, tempura, fruit and rice.

Lunch may include sushi if you so desire but there are several other choices. Our favorite from the lunch menu is the katsu-don, a pork cutlet laid atop a bowl of rice and egg in a sauce. We only wish the folks at Little Tokyo would relent and offer this on the evening menu.

Both restaurants work off the same menu. Only the hours differ. Be assured that both restaurants use “krab” in lieu of crab meat. This tasteless and odorless piece of stringy pollock fish adds nothing to the dinner. Be assured also that the soft-shell crab is the real thing.

The food is healthy, low-cal, good and good for you. If you choose to sit at the sushi bar, there is a free floor show to boot. What more can one ask?

Little Tokyo II is located at 876 Avery Blvd. (in the Promenade Shopping Center) in Ridgeland. Hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon. through Fri.; from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mon. through Thurs., until 10:30 p.m. on Fri.; and, from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sat. Closed on Sun. Evening reservations are available and suggested. No non-smoking section. Visa, Mastercard and American Express accepted. Telephone: (601) 991-3800.

Little Tokyo is located at 4800 I-55 North (Lefleur`s Gallery), Jackson. It is open from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mon. through Fri.; from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tues. through Thurs. and Sunday; and, until 10:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat. It`s closed on Mon. Telephone: (601) 982-3035.

Bill Patrick`s column appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. He has written extensively about restaurants for more than a dozen years and has served in the kitchen, behind the bar and as a food service inspector.


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