Small is an understatement at this tiny little restaurant tucked at the end of a strip plaza in Dr. Phillips. Minimal square footage does not mean small on flavors. Bonsai Sushi delivers on service and flavors is a big way.
Rarely do you see tables of two in any restaurant these days. Most are four tops with a sprinkling of two tops and some even have 4-6 top booths and family tables for larger parties. The intimacy of a two top with ample space between tables creates the perfect setting for privacy. There are seats at the sushi bar and along a glass window facing the front. Surely, this is a place that welcomes single diners. You know those places that cater for the big groups only? Well, this is not that place. Decor is very Asian with nods to Japanese. The feel is somewhere between modern and traditional. Top 40s music pipe from a speaker somewhere in the back and everyone we encountered spoke perfect English.
The menu is typical of older sushi restaurants. There are the usual suspects in cooked food, gyoza, deep fried stuff and what not. There is the proverbial sushi list and a list of sushi on the menu that would take a whole hour just to read through them all. With a little guidance and navigation, or being quick to figure out what you like you might make a quick selection. Or you can let the server guide you.
Roasted Brown Rice and Green Tea – what an amazing combination. The sweet nuttiness was very pronounce and lend a distinct long lasting finish. Rather remarkably.
Miso Soup – A little salty for me, but had the correct composition.
Soy Sauce Dispenser – This is one of the best dispensers I’ve come across in my foray at sushi restaurants. No drip! Not a single drip, straight pour and that’s it. This should be the gold standard of any sushi restaurant.
Bonsai Popcorn Chicken – Crunchy on the outside, soft and supple on the inside. Mild marination of the meat allowed the chicken flavor to shine through. A nice delightful snack, just like it’s namesake popcorn.
Sashimi Appetizer – Temperature, hints of cold; Texture, smooth and silky. Good quality.
Robin’s Nest – A tower of tuna, avocado and albacore with spicy mayo and ponzu sauce. Albacore was thin, flavorful, but had tiny bits of bones at the end. Fishes have bones right, no surprise there. We are not talking giant throat sticking, choking variety, we talking itsy bitsy bits that are there. Could be swallowed with no effects. The total composition allowed for all the elements to shine individually.
Windermere Roll – Main ingredient inside was tempura shrimp, topped with spicy tuna. Nice crunch and ample spiciness.
Jackson 5 and Triple Delight – One had soft shell crab inside and the other was topped with imitation crab. Both rolls were wholesome and blended well together.
Every sushi chef has their own distinct rice flavor and texture. I find every diner has their own preference also. Like any taste we sometimes refer to our first experience or the experience we grow accustom to. No which way is either wrong nor right. It all boils down to preference. This sushi rice was on the softer and less acidic side for my palate. Does this slight deviation distract from all the other big wonderful flavors in this restaurant? I really don’t think so.
Service here is stop on. Friendly, cordial, charming, knowing when to hover and when to disappear are all the hallmarks of people who really know how to entertain. These servers walk the dining room with confidence and ownership. Overall, this is a great little spot for a date or if you want to sushi binge alone. Freshness of ingredients, attention to details, warm hospitality are all the more reasons why I would go back again.