Yumi's Sushi Bar (Excelsior, MN)
We're sure it's a remark they've heard before, like asking the price of something in a dollar store. But, no: the fish served at Yumi's Sushi Bar -- "your quaint little sushi bar by the lake" -- doesn't come from Lake Minnetonka. Raw-fish sushi is not made with freshwater fish because of the risk of parasites. This is seafood, flown in fresh from the coasts.
And the sushi is the best thing on the menu. It's all very fresh, and it's all good. You can order both individual nigiri sushi and rolled sushi by the plate, or a variety of pieces served as a platter.
If you're new to sushi, we recommend asking what's freshest that day and trying it. Hamachi (yellowtail), maguro (tuna) and ebi (shrimp) are all easy to like and generally available. Branch out and try things.
Order nigiri sushi if you want to taste the fish, and a roll if the combination of flavors suits you better. Order a whole plate of stuff and share it. We've never met a variety of sushi we didn't like, although one of us isn't all that crazy about uni (sea urchin).
Sushi sounds like a good dinner to us, and that's a good thing. But while the sushi here is fresh and competent, we weren't as impressed with some of the other dishes on the menu.
The Kobe-style beef stir-fry is one example. The meat was good, although we don't swoon over Kobe-style beef. But the sesame soy sauce was too sweet. The teriyaki sauce, available on beef, chicken or salmon, was also much too sweet. On the plus side, these dishes come with really good fresh vegetables on the side.
Yumi's serves soba (buckwheat) and udon (wheat) noodles, both Japanese staples. If you know Japanese food and expect these on a plate with dipping sauce, you'll be disappointed. The noodles come in a hot soup, with various sides. We ordered it with tempura. While there was nothing wrong with the dish, we've had better.
Our advice is to ignore the entrees and order a selection of appetizers and sides to go with your sushi. We liked the sunomono cucumber salad, available with your choice of seafood. We also liked the ikasensai salad, made with thinly sliced squid.
For hot small plates, we recommend the hamachi kama (grilled yellowtail cheek), and also the gyoza (pan-fried pork dumplings) served with soy-vinegar dipping sauce.
Yumi's is small. There are eight tables, plus nine seats at the sushi bar. They don't take reservations, and on weekends you'll have to wait.
And sushi is never a cheap meal. A two-piece plate costs anywhere from $4 to $6, and you'll want eight or 10 pieces, or more. But the room is pleasant, the servers are efficient and kind, and the sushi is delicious. And it might be just the thing if the crappies aren't biting on the lake.
Yumi's Sushi Bar
Where: 28 Water St., Excelsior
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.
Sound level: Not too loud
Recommended dishes: Sushi
Prices: Dinners $15–$30
Children: No special kids' menu.
Contact: 952-474-1720 or www.yumissushibar.com