Little Sushi on the Prairie (Eden Prairie, MN)

By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Star Tribune West
December 14, 2005

Eden Prairie is shaping up to be the west metro's best dining destination. One of the delights of the area is Little Sushi on the Prairie.

Even though Minnesota has a saltwater port, we cannot be said to be anywhere near the ocean. Happily, air freight from the coasts provides us with fresh fish on a daily basis, and sushi on the prairie isn't an incongruity at all.

The menu lists 21 different rolled maki sushi, ranging from the familiar to the exotic. Everything we tried was fresh and good. We appreciated that the nigiri sushi was carved generously, and that we got a good thick hunk of fish on the rice.

Individual sushi orders of two pieces cost $4 to $6, hand rolls are $5.25, and more complicated rolls range from $6 to $16. The "Little Sushi" plate offers seven pieces and a California roll for $15; the "Big Sushi" plate has 12 pieces and a California roll for $23. Sushi requires a skilled chef and is time-intensive to make. Add in expensive ingredients and this is not a cheap meal.

As for the rest of the menu, well -- stray from sushi or sashimi, and you're likely to be disappointed

The tempura is the best of the lot. The vegetables are fresh, and not greasy. We liked the shrimp, too. But the dipping sauce wasn't quite right, and lacked grated daikon radish.

Chicken, beef, and salmon teriyaki are available both as an appetizer and as an entree. These are grilled skewers with onion and bell pepper, and served covered in teriyaki sauce. While there was nothing bad about the dish, it wasn't good enough to order again.

On the other end of the spectrum, the yaki soba was dreadful. The noodles were cooked beyond reason. No one at our table was able to eat it, and the waitress -- bless her -- deducted the cost from our bill unprompted.

Tempura udon is a buckwheat noodle soup with tempura pieces. We missed the depth of flavor we'd had elsewhere.

Tonkatsu, breaded pork cutlet, is tricky to get right, and LSOTP failed. The meat was too greasy, and the sauce was aggressively sweet and lacked sesame.

Appetizers are sometimes better. We liked the gyoza. These meat balls in a dumpling wrapper included lots of minced green onion. It was different and quite good. The seafood salads, basically seafood and cucumber in a vinegary brine, were okay. The hamachi kama -- that's yellowtail cheek -- was piping hot, and quite a large piece. It was delicious.

LSOTP serves the usual array of Asian-inspired ice creams: green tea, ginger, and mango. We tried the tempura ice cream. Next time, we'll ask for it without the sticky sweet red sauce.

But even with all the problems, we would gladly return to LSOTP. It's a nice looking place, and the whole staff was warm and friendly, even when we wandered in through the kitchen door by mistake. The sushi chefs are fun. We like sitting at the eight-seat sushi bar and eating whatever's fresh. If we could change one thing, though: please turn that television off.

Location:
8353 Crystal View Dr
Phone: (952) 944-0962
http://www.littlesushiontheprairie.com

Hours:
Sun–Fri : 11am–9pm
Sat: 11am–10pm

Atmosphere: Fun and lively
Service: Friendly
Sound level: Not too loud, but there's a television
Recommended dishes: Sushi and sashimi
Prices: Appetizers $5–$8, entrees $9–$22, sushi $4–$6 for two pieces
Children: No special children's menu

earlier review: Panino's (North Oaks, MN)
later review: Granite City Food & Brewery (Eagan, MN)
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