Cleveland - Sasa Matsu (new Japanese restaurant)
Tonight I went to Sasa Matsu, a new Japanese restaurant that opened this week at Shaker Square (replacing Sushi on the Square, which went out of business, and which I never liked anyway).
Sasa is run by Scott Kim and his wife, who owned the former Matsu in Shaker Heights. If you liked Matsu, you'll like Sasa. But Sasa is more upscale and has a slightly more creative menu.
We tried 7 or 8 dishes, including an ishiyaki-style "hot rock" on which you cook thin slices of beef, a lobster and shrimp egg roll, and a seared ahi tuna dish. For sushi, we sampled 2 "everything but the kitchen sink" uramaki rolls, and several types of nigiri.
The highlights, for me, were the "snow mountain roll" (containing shrimp, crab, and masago), a really excellent bluefin o-toro nigiri, and a surprisingly flavorful escolar nigiri. The "hot rock" was fun (and different--I can't think of another restaurant in Cleveland that does this); the beef was very flavorful.
For dessert, we ordered the banana tempura and the poached pear. Both were amazing--the pear especially.
The restaurant is brand new, and they're obviously still working on the decor and training the staff, but I thought the food was wonderful. I will most definitely be back.
I was unfamiliar with the term until yesterday, but yes, the restaurant does claim to be izakaya style. I took this to mean they have a "small plates" menu (?). I did not sample anything from the beverage menu, but it looked pretty extensive. The people at the next table had each ordered a "sampler" of four or five varieties of sake. At one point, the chef was visiting with them, offering his opnions on the various types. It looked like fun.
good news about the japanese booze too thx. yes w/o having been to japan and as far as i know from the very popular ny versions a japanese izakaya is kind of a cross between a traditonal spanish tapas place and an american tavern (drinks/food).
some wiki info about them: