Origami West (Minnetonka, MN)
Let's be upfront about this: Japan is arguably the world's most expensive country, and their cuisine is delicate and fussy. Thus, even in America, Japanese food is expensive. We were never able to get out of Origami West for less than $40.
But there are times when sushi is just exactly what you want. And, with the opening of Origami West in Ridgedale, good sushi doesn't mean a trip to the city.
Raw fish is a Japanese staple, and at Origami the fish is fresh and well-prepared. You can order sushi individually, or together with soup and salad as a dinner. Nigiri sushi are pieces of raw fish on pillows of rice. The rolled sushi (maki) is often better for the squeamish, and best for sharing among friends. Even the kids at our table liked California rolls.
If you're cool with the concept but new to sushi, try hamachi. That's yellowtail. Or maguro: tuna. They are mild and delicious. The sashimi platter of raw fish (without rice) is perfect for low-carb high-protein dieters.
Besides raw fish, Origami offers a range of interesting but variable dishes. We've best liked the most traditional Japanese fare. Some of the experimental dishes didn't work so well, we thought.
Try the tempura, a huge mound of batter-fried shrimp and vegetables, served with a dipping sauce, rice, and soup. The batter is feather-light and crispy: it's a treat.
More adventurous diners love the grilled eel. If you like fish even a little bit, order this. The classic preparation is eel brushed with a sweet wine-soy sauce. Origami serves it in traditional Japanese style, in a box on a bed of rice, with soup and Japanese pickles.
The more complicated dishes don't succeed nearly as well. The yose-nabe is their rendition of a traditional Japanese dish: seafood, chicken, vegetables, tofu, and noodles cooked in a broth and served in a hot pot. The shrimp, scallops, and mussels were fine, but the chicken was overcooked and there was too much cabbage in the dish. The result was boring.
We also didn't like a dish called "Encounter." It's a large sushi roll deep-fried in tempura batter and served in slices. This peculiar idea sounded like it had possibilities, but this flavors don't meld and it falls apart when you try to eat it.
For appetizers, we liked the crab sunomono, crab meat served with marinated cucumbers. We also liked the ahi poki: raw tuna marinated in fresh ginger, scallions, and garlic. Hotate katagai is grilled scallops: mellow and delicious.
Many westerners know little about the complexities of sake. Just remember that good sake is served cold. We liked all the sakes at Origami, so sample at will.
Confusingly, Origami offers some very large appetizers and some fairly small small entrees. Just order dishes a few at a time. The kitchen is fast enough, and you'll have a more traditional meal with a series of dishes. It is perfectly acceptable to have a couple of appetizers and a few pieces of sushi for dinner. And that's much less expensive, too.
12401 Wayzata Blvd
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Open for lunch and dinner; call for hours
Atmosphere: Bright and funky
Sound level: Not too noisy
Recommended dishes: Sushi, tempura, unagi
Prices: $5–$10 small plates, $18–$22 entrees
Smoking: Not allowed
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes
Children: No special children's menu