Tag Archives: Sushi

Mark Pi’s China Gate

14 Feb

To recognize the Chinese New Year, I wanted to celebrate with food. A quick shake of the Urbanspoon app had us standing outside Mark Pi’s China Gate. Located off North Meridian, hidden in a strip mall like so many Indy restaurants, I hadn’t noticed it despite living close. From outside, it looked like it was busy, so I was excited to give it a try.

We were greeted with a warm smile and friendly service. However, rather than being seated, we opted to order take out from the bar. Along one side of the restaurant, we found that though the tables were full, the bar was empty. Overall, the atmosphere is comfortable yet slightly upscale. It isn’t your basic take out Asian, but fresher, more inviting. We decided to grab a seat and order a roll to share while enjoying a beer and waiting for our food.

With only two beers on draft, we each ordered one to compliment our rainbow roll. After watching the sushi chef at the end of the bar (behind the sushi counter), we were presented with a beautiful plate. It was a bit more jazzed up than a normal plate, adding a bit of flair. I haven’t seen lemon served on top of sushi before, but I liked that just by touch alone it helped freshen up the fish even though it wasn’t needed. The fish was fresh and vibrant in taste. The rice was clean in flavor, sticky in texture and a great vehicle for the avocado, crab, and crisp cucumber. It was quite a large portion as rainbow rolls normally are, so I was happy that we split it. As we wrapped up our appetizer, our entrees were delivered. We paid our bill and made our way home.

I didn’t get to try hubs entree, but he enjoyed his pepper chicken saying it had a nice kick without being an overkill in spice. I opted for the classic hunan prepared with scallops. The gentlemen who took our order gave us a great piece of information – they use fresh peppers. So when you ask for spicy, or for them to hold off, it isn’t quite something they are able to do. It all depends on the peppers that they have, rather than creating different levels of spice with prepared peppers. I liked the fresh approach and was hoping to have some spice to the hunan. Success  – with my first bite there was some heat, but not overwhelming. The mushrooms, baby corn, and broccoli were cooked perfectly, crunching with crispness and vibrant in color. There was great flavor to the hunan sauce without a hint of being overly salty, which I sometimes get. The scallops, bay scallops, were small but tender, cooked well. I would have liked a bit more out of the seafood option, but appreciated that it was at least an option rather than the standard chicken or shrimp. I substituted brown rice, and was disappointed it was an extra charge, but still was cooked properly.

Serving size was large, as I expected, and made great leftovers the next day. It was a bit more pricey than I was anticipating for the evening, but they are going for an above average Asian concept. The service – all friendly and personable. I enjoyed speaking to the owner while we enjoyed our sushi and waited for our dinner. I also appreciated that he was honest in that they haven’t advertised too much, because he wants his staff to really understand the food as they continue to build their menu. There were flairs of Korean food, and I could tell how passionate the food and culture. He doesn’t just want his guests to enjoy the food, but understand the flavors. I’d return to continue to sample items off the quite extensive menu and the sushi they continue to develop.

Mark Pi’s China Gate * 12297 N. Meridian St. * Carmel, 46032 * 317.848.1888

Mark Pi's China Gate on Urbanspoon


3 Oct

Sushi.  Something that many people don’t trust here in the Midwest.  After all, we are landlocked so people often question the freshness and quality, thus the taste and dependability to find consistency in the area.  I’m quite a fan of sushi.  But I really don’t have a ‘favorite’ in the city. But that doesn’t stop me from noshing.

I enjoy a few sushi restaurants I’ve reviewed or dined at in the past, one being Sakura.  It doesn’t look like much on the outside, or even in the inside.  If you don’t know about the restaurant, you may have passed it numerous times while driving on Keystone.  I hadn’t been for years – literally – and then a friend asked to meet up for lunch there.  I quickly remembered really enjoying it and asked myself “why haven’t I returned?” as I drove there to meet up with her.

When I walked in, I wasn’t surprised to see it busy.  This place is always busy, which to me, is a good sign.  That means you are going to get some great food.  And when I say busy, don’t expect the service to be slow.  I only have to wait for a table, not my food, as they are always on top of things.  My friend and her colleague had already sat down which meant I didn’t have to wait for a table.  Fine by me as I slide into the booth and started to drool looking at the sushi bar.  They had already ordered, so I quickly made the decision to go with a basic lunch special. Sushi lunch #1 to be exact.

While they nibbled on some squid, my miso soup and salad came out.  I love ginger dressing, and this was the expected ginger dressing that you get on your crisp iceberg lettuce.  I didn’t expect anything less and I didn’t need anything more.  It was simple, expected, and standard.  The miso was the same – chunks of tofu, mushrooms and kale floating in the dashi (miso broth).  Once again, expected.  No complaints, but nothing to rave about.

But let’s be honest.  Normally, you don’t go to sushi restaurants for their salad and soup.  You go for the sushi – which is why I ordered a variety of nigiri and a handroll.  The nigiri consisted of tuna, yellow tail, shrimp, krab and eel.  All were delightfully fresh tasting, without any fishy smell or taste.  I could have done without the krab as it wasn’t in line with my sushi fish needs at that time.  Don’t get me wrong, I have this guilty pleasure with sitting down with a package of ‘krab’ from the grocery store.  Yes, I’m talking about the bright orange strips.  Hand raised and guilty – I love the stuff.  But when I go out for sushi, I’m not really wanting that.  I really enjoyed the yellow tail – it was probably my favorite.  Well, other than the handroll.

There is something I love about handrolls.  They are messy to eat, but there is something about their design in structure that makes me love them.  And Sakura’s softshell crab is divine.  Yes, it is covered in a spicy mayo based sauce, but this is the exception I make for this roll.  I love the crispness of the crab, mixed with the rice and seaweed wrap. It is probably the reason I’ll continue to return to Sakura – it was after all, the first thing I ever ate there.  And you can judge and say “eating fried crab with a mayo based sauce isn’t liking sushi.”  I know it isn’t your standard sushi – like the eel or squid that I also snacked on – but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good my friends!

With all of this, I’m curious.  What do you think is the best place for sushi?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sakura * 7201 N. Keystone * Indy, 46240 * 317.259.4171

Sakura Japanese on Urbanspoon

Naked Tchopstix

19 Apr

Every year for my birthday, I must have sushi.  This birthday was no different as hubs and I found ourselves in Broad Ripple for an early dinner at Naked Tchopstix.  We had dined at the 96th Street location previously, but never at this location.  The restaurant was empty and the weather was beautiful; we were quickly sat outside in the sunshine.

We started off with an order of steamed potstickers.  These weren’t anything special – a blend of finely chopped vegetables (carrots, celery, etc.) steamed in a thick wonton.  They were bland and unfortunately, there was also a hair on the plate.  Our server was utterly apologetic and the manager addressed the situation and removed it from our bill, which was a nice gesture.  We weren’t planning on finishing them either way because we ordered three rolls and though they handled the situation fantastically, I was surprised that our server didn’t remove the plate.  But honestly, we weren’t even planning on ordering them, so I chalk it up as a wash.

The first roll we received was the fire roll.  Wrapped up in sushi rice was cream cheese, crab, unagi (freshwater eel), avocado and masago (roe).  I love the sweet crunch of the masago, and the subtle creamy texture from the cream cheese.  I didn’t really taste too much of the crab, to me it was too subtle and got lost in all the other flavors.

The second roll was my least favorite out of the three: crunch munch.  A slight spice due to the spicy mayo, the roll was very creamy, maybe even too creamy with the mayo.  Crab and shrimp were the main ingredients, but the one ingredient that made it the crunch munch were the tempura flakes.  I wasn’t extremely happy with the texture of the flakes, which ruined the roll for me.  It wasn’t an exciting bite for me, just standard (this roll is pictured to the right below, while the fire is on the left side.)

My favorite out of the three was the Playboy roll.  Wrapped up in aluminum foil, I was surprised to see all the components of the roll when it was served.  I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting the warm temperature (after all, the description did say cooked shrimp), but I wasn’t.  Though present in this roll, tempura chips didn’t ruin the texture for me.  I think they were not as noticeable because inside the roll was also shrimp tempura, crisp asparagus and spicy tuna.  I loved the creaminess of the tuna – it was my favorite of the inside portion.  Outside was a spicy & sweet sauce, which really tasted like a sweet barbecue sauce if anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a kick of spice in the yellow colored sauce.  I would have preferred it to have a little kick, but I added some wasabi and I was good to go.

A bottle of birthday wine later, hubs and I were on our way home with a full tummy.  I loved sitting outside, and the service was pleasant.  But I know I can get the same quality of sushi at the 96th Street location (which is closer to my home), as well as other places in the city.

Naked Tchopstix * 6253 N. College Dr., Indy *317.252.5555

Naked Tchopstix on Urbanspoon