38° Good Afternoon
38° Good Afternoon

Osaka Japanese Restaurant review

Chirashi, assorted fish served atop sushi rice, at

Chirashi, assorted fish served atop sushi rice, at Osaka. (July 26, 2012) Credit: Jacqueline Connor

Osaka is Shoreham's newest Japanese restaurant -- and its only one. The crew easily shoulders such responsibility, covering all the requisites -- sushi, teriyaki, tempura and hibachi dishes -- with aplomb. The absence of much that's hip or fusion-y seems reason enough to give thanks.

Dark tiled walls and eerie blue lighting make the space seem even smaller than it is. The vibe, though, is sunny and upbeat, thanks to the friendliness of the servers.

One dinner begins with a spicy, crunchy scallop roll, simple and fresh. I prefer it to the ornate, rice-heavy Hawaii roll done with tuna, salmon and too many other ingredients. Another time, I find myself liking a tuna-mango roll that's light, fresh and harmonious.

The kitchen does well with such appetizers as skewered yakitori-style chicken and vegetable gyoza -- little spinach half-moons pan-fried to a delicate crisp.

Thai tom yum soup -- one of the few non-Japanese dishes on the menu -- is fiery-hot and sour, but the presence of both chicken and shrimp -- usually, such soup includes one or the other -- plus vegetables makes for lots going on in the bowl. A simple winner is the oniony clear soup made with beef broth and mushrooms, part of the hibachi dinner.

Hibachi salmon -- cooked in the kitchen without the typical knife-tossing hoopla -- wears a slightly sweet, burnished glaze that makes it seem almost candied. Yet, I like it, as well as the sauteed vegetables that share the plate, along with two nicely cooked pieces of "appetizer" shrimp. On the side: a bowl of fried rice.

Among the items in a pal's chicken teriyaki bento box are tender slices of sauce-coated poultry, plus a piece of crunchy, greaseless shrimp tempura. Like Osaka's vegetable tempura entree, it speaks of a chef who knows that frying is an art.

A sushi "regular" entree, while simple, is distinguished by the freshness and cut of the finfish overlaying ovals of rice. Beautifully arranged fish and pickled vegetables define a chirashi bowl. Ask for it without surimi; artificial crab has no place here.

Nor does fried cheesecake. So finish with green tea ice cream, a simple finale that -- like Osaka -- does Shoreham proud.

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