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Sushi lovers. What's the consensus on Kenichi at the W?

masnole Jan 14, 2011 06:14 AM

Just trying to set expectations for it, group outing that I can't change or re-direct.

That said, I tried Tei-An aroud the holidays for lunch. Nice place, had the Green Soba noodles with Duck for lunch.

Thinking of dropping in for lunch again today....


1722 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201

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  1. s
    sass RE: masnole Jan 14, 2011 07:06 AM

    Expensive, but I loved everything I had there. And branch out from the sushi - their menu has plenty of other good things on it as well.

    1. g
      gavlist RE: masnole Jan 14, 2011 08:26 AM

      I'm a fairly regular customer, and friends with some of the staff there - but here's my objective opinion:

      I believe that Kenichi mainly caters to hotel guests and AAC attendees - so there's a lot of non-serious stuff on the menu (chicken teriyaki, etc.). That said, I have had outstanding food (including sushi) there - and out easily rank it in the top 3 or 4 places in Dallas. I attribute my positive experience to (1) an open and adventurous palate, (2) making the sushi chef aware of this, and (3) giving the chefs feedback about the things I like. Some of this might be difficult to accomplish with a single meal, and in a group setting (presumably not at the sushi counter) but if you approach the meal this way I think it will turn out well.

      I'd also recommend that you drink sake while you're there. Kenichi has an outstanding selection of sake (unmatched in Dallas for sure) and well-trained staff. If you can, speak with the sake sommelier about your choices... but a number of the wait staff are also quite knowledgeable.

      1. ShanghaiSam RE: masnole Jan 15, 2011 09:26 AM

        Kenichi has an unimaginative menu that caters to the palate of Americanized Japanese food eaters.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ShanghaiSam
          sass RE: ShanghaiSam Jan 15, 2011 02:06 PM

          Not if you do omakase.

          1. re: sass
            masnole RE: sass Jan 15, 2011 04:21 PM

            Ok, went to Tei-An agan for lunch. Place is beautiful. Had the Udon noodles with Duck Meatballs (came with some spicy tuna nigiri). Last visit had the Green Soba with duck.

            2nd trip. Noodles both times.

            Let me preface my next comments by saying I'm a huge sushi fan, and asian food fan in general...I tend towards Sashimi and adventurism in willing to try all sorts of fish and seafood. Shoot I've done unidentifiable street food in the markets of small cities in Taiwan....

            Nevertheless, my comment is about the noodles. They're good, but dont "knock my socks off" like I was hoping they would.

            That said, I guess I don't get all the love professed for ths aspect of Japanese cuisine.

            I have had great Sushi iin Japan, and in the best places in NYC and LA - (once was served personally at a private event by Nobu Matshuhisa in LA - Eons before the first Nobu was opened.....it was at the Matsuhisa, upstairs room about 1993). Am new to the noodle side, just not getting it......

            This is no slam at Tei-An by any means. I need to find time to do the Omakase....and will go back to experience more sushi/sashimi of theirs.

            Nobu Restaurant
            Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

            1722 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201

            1. re: masnole
              amokscience RE: masnole Jan 15, 2011 08:06 PM

              Noodle soups are generally comfort food. I've had some incredible noodles in Japan but very few in America, especially in these parts. At the highest levels of obsession noodlery rivals sushi craft but you'd also require a restaurant that specialized in that type of noodle dish, which is rare/non-existent here.

              1. re: amokscience
                air RE: amokscience Jan 16, 2011 08:16 AM

                Yeah, that's the special part about Tei An. I can't think of any other places in the entire state (that is, if there are any) that also do housemade soba.

        2. j
          JonFromTJs RE: masnole Jan 26, 2011 10:38 AM

          i typed a detailed response on vacation and it didn't load! gggrrr.

          We all know the common complaints about dining in Dallas, but you simply cannot overstate how fantastic our Japanese food is. Both authentic and creative, excellent sourcing, fantastic chefs. i haven't done much international traveling but i have eaten all over tokyo. i came home thinking "wow, i can't believe how great the top level of sushi is in dallas freaking texas!"

          Kenichi is definitely in the top tier of Dallas sushi.

          First off is Hung, the sake sommelier. Having a sake sommelier elevates the experience immensely. We've learned so much about sake and how to pair it with japanese dishes. Just tell him what you are ordering and he'll pick great sake for your meal, or even a flight of several. And like any good sommelier he is respectful of your budget.

          Where Kenichi excels in my mind is their creativity with raw dishes. Taste, texture, presentation...my favorite dishes are the ones that i order blindly from the specials menu. They take very fresh ingredients and combine them with interesting sauces.

          also excellent is the more traditional nigiri. but even here there is a great blend of "authentic creativity"...if you request, you can get other dipping sauces like white soy sauce, pickled wasabi and fresh grated wasabi. and ask your server if they have anything special off the menu. this was the first place i had yellowtail belly, and now its one of my favorite nigiri.

          speaking of which, the servers we've had have all been very knowledgeable and good at guiding us through the menu to things we'd like given what else we've ordered.

          the ambiance can be a little lacking, but honestly that's a Victory problem as much as anything else.

          and other disagree, but i dont' love the hot savory dishes at Kenichi as much as the raw dishes. we'll get the pork belly and maybe something else hot, but mostly stick to nigiri, rolls and the raw specials.

          in my best forrest gump, "and that's all i've got to say about that"

          6 Replies
          1. re: JonFromTJs
            DallasDude RE: JonFromTJs Jan 26, 2011 12:11 PM

            I think I first met you in person, Jon, at Kenichi's Sake Festival. I saw Hung last week and he said that is coming up again real soon. Looking forward to it once again. Hung is a Dallas treasure, to be sure.

            1. re: DallasDude
              twinwillow RE: DallasDude Jan 26, 2011 12:57 PM

              Hung knows his stuff. I've been to a couple of "Meetup" dinners he organized.

              1. re: DallasDude
                pgwiz1 RE: DallasDude Jan 31, 2011 06:24 AM

                Waaaa??? Sake Festival??? Tell me more!!

                1. re: pgwiz1
                  air RE: pgwiz1 Jan 31, 2011 06:50 AM

                  Hung collaborated with distrubutors, purveyors, and sake experts/sommeliers when Kenichi hosted a tasting of 40-50 sakes last April. If I recall right, I'm pretty sure details were posted in various blogs and media outlets.

                  Many members of this board (including myself) attended the sake festival last year. Initially, I got the same feeling as the first time I ever set foot in a Flying Saucer. The selection was daunting and I had no clue where to start as the format involved moving around from table to table, tasting at your own pace. However, there were many sake experts on hand who were amiable and provided plenty of guidance, and the tasting ended up being quite an educational experience. Based on the turnout and extremely positive response, I think there are many folks who are excited to have another sake festival this year. I'm eagerly anticipating details for the next one.

                  1. re: air
                    DallasDude RE: air Jan 31, 2011 10:56 AM

                    Last year they had a pre-tasting seminar. If Hung adds this feature again it would behoove us to check that out.

                    1. re: DallasDude
                      pgwiz1 RE: DallasDude Feb 14, 2011 06:39 AM

                      Finally went yesterday and did the Omakase w/ Sake pairing. AWESOME! Hung mentioned they'd be doing the Sake festival again, tho didn't say anything about the pre-tasting seminar (ofcourse that doesn't mean he isn't going to do it). It was just fabulous!

            2. t
              TexasAggieMama RE: masnole Jan 28, 2011 12:17 PM

              Very good sushi, but not the most creative at Kenichi unless you spend ooodles of dollars for the omakase. Generally very expensive. My favorite for sushi in Dallas is probably still Tei Tei.

              1. t
                tonybites RE: masnole Jan 30, 2011 09:07 AM

                I, personally, can't break myself away from Mr. Sushi in Addison. Been going there for 17 years and, having tried many many top tier sushi joints, I can safely say that Mr. Sushi beats them all with one exception: Sasabune in Honolulu. You can keep Kenichi, Nobu, Tei Tei, and the rest. And Tei-An is a SOBA HOUSE, not a sushi restaurant. Yes they have very good sushi, but it's not fair to judge the place on that portion of the menu.

                Tei Tei Restaurant
                2906 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                Nobu Restaurant
                Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

                1722 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201

                11 Replies
                1. re: tonybites
                  ShanghaiSam RE: tonybites Feb 11, 2011 01:05 AM

                  I have to second tony's recommendation of Mr. Sushi....I've been posting about them for years on Chowhound. Owner Ben-san and Mr. Sushi have been around far longer than any of the other top tier places in town and Mr. Sushi still delivers on the highest quality both in food and creativity. One of my favorite anecdotes from the early days is about Ben-san growing shiso plants in his backyard because no one sold them in Dallas. That is the type of dedication to the food that you want in a sushi chef.

                  For those of you that have never been, it's a horrible name and bad location (in a strip mall in Addison) for one of the best sushi experiences you will ever have. Obviously, omakase with Ben-san at the front of the sushi bar is the preferred experience, but they have a large staff of excellent chefs and even table service will provide wonderful, quality Japanese food.

                  Definitely a must try for any sushi lover in Dallas.

                  1. re: ShanghaiSam
                    air RE: ShanghaiSam Feb 11, 2011 07:04 AM

                    All good to now, so could you please post more detail about how the rice is prepared at Mr. Sushi?

                    As far as sushi in Dallas goes here would be my view:
                    Top tier (if price is no object, definitely go to these places. would be quite helpful if you know how to talk to an itamae too): Keiichi (personal favorite), Yutaka, Kenichi, Nobu

                    Second string (aka good, reliable places in your neighborhood): Teppo (severely underrated and constantly overlooked imo), Sushi Robata, Sushi Sake, Masami, Kazy's (if you're a DIY kinda person). At one point Genroku was my go-to neighborhood spot, but the chef I really liked has been long gone.

                    Everything else is on the next level down are about the same as grocery store grade stuff: the buffets (Osaka, Tokyo One), kaiten places, your places like Blue Fish, Chaucer's, or Ra.

                    And then there's Otaru, but I'd still rather have the grocery store stuff than eat their abominable sushi.

                    1. re: air
                      Scagnetti RE: air Feb 11, 2011 07:25 AM

                      You should try Shinsei. Good sushi and you can view the Park City hotties.

                      Several years ago I was with a date sitting at the sushi bar at Mr Sushi and attempted to place an order with one of the sushi chefs. He became very irate and started barking at us in Japanese to the point that people began staring at him. We got up and left and the hostess at the front and asked us what happened as the chef was still muttering loudly in Japanese. We explained what happened but she just shrugged.

                      I'll never ever go back.

                      Shinsei Restaurant
                      7713 Inwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75209

                      1. re: Scagnetti
                        gavlist RE: Scagnetti Feb 11, 2011 08:20 AM

                        I haven't been in a couple of years - but from my past experience, I'd put Shinsei in the second tier, at least from the perspective of traditional nigiri sushi. Their composed "new style" sushi (ala Nobu) was pretty good - but not what I typically use to judge a sushi bar. The standards (for me, akami, hamachi, saba) were weak (happy to provide specifics if desired) and the variety was unimpressive. Again - 2 years ago... so things may have changed. have they?

                        there were things I liked about Shinsei, but the sushi was not one of them. I preferred it when it was Yamaguchi - the quality wasn't that much lower, and the restaurant had more of a traditional and neighborhoody feel without the pretense and price of Shinsei.

                        Shinsei Restaurant
                        7713 Inwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75209

                        Nobu Restaurant
                        Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

                        1. re: gavlist
                          JonFromTJs RE: gavlist Feb 11, 2011 12:07 PM

                          i tend to agree with this on shinsei. they order top quality fish (some of the same vendors as TJ's) and they have great people working in the kitchen. but for some reason it all hasn't added up to the quality of meal we expected. Maybe we ordered wrong, maybe we hit an off night.

                          HOWEVER, i'll put that sake sangria up with any light fruity cocktail i've ever had. and its easy to make at home:


                      2. re: air
                        tonybites RE: air Feb 11, 2011 08:37 AM

                        What, specifically, do you want to know about the rice?

                        1. re: tonybites
                          luniz RE: tonybites Feb 11, 2011 12:39 PM

                          The preparation of sushi rice can have a tremendous effect on the pleasure experience while eating nigiri. The ideal is a high quality short grain rice that is sticky and holds together well in the hand, seasoned with vinegar (uncommon in American sushi places), and packed as loosely as possible while still holding together when dipped (by hand, not American-wielded chopsticks) into soy sauce (the topping, not the rice). It should have a mild sweetness that enhances seafood (not sugariness) and spread evenly across the tongue in order to carry the flavors of the fish or vegetable across the entire palate, without adding unpleasant chewiness or aftertaste. Generally you don't find this type of sushi rice anywhere in Dallas, or in much of the US.

                          1. re: luniz
                            air RE: luniz Feb 11, 2011 12:50 PM

                            To add, the temperature should be as close to room temperature as possible; not warm nor frigid cold (what you'll most commonly encounter).

                            1. re: luniz
                              JonFromTJs RE: luniz Feb 11, 2011 03:01 PM

                              do you know who had pretty good sushi rice? the sushi bar at the clarion hotel at 75 and 635, which now just moved way up north in plano. i was shocked. it wasn't tokyo (you know what i'm talking about, luniz) but it was surprisingly good for a moderately priced place in dallas.

                          2. re: air
                            ShanghaiSam RE: air Feb 11, 2011 09:09 AM

                            mixed in a hangiri and hand-fanned to cool....why?

                            1. re: ShanghaiSam
                              air RE: ShanghaiSam Feb 11, 2011 12:17 PM

                              All the other information in the thread doesn't mean a thing without any discussion of rice texture/flavor at a given sushi restaurant. The bottom of the barrel places pay virtually no attention to this crucial detail.

                      3. j
                        JonFromTJs RE: masnole Feb 11, 2011 12:04 PM

                        if we are doing tiers, my top tier is Yutaka, Teppo, Tei Tei, Nobu and Kenichi. Tei An is remarkable but i don't go there for sushi.

                        Tei Tei Restaurant
                        2906 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                        Nobu Restaurant
                        Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

                        1. air RE: masnole Apr 29, 2011 10:55 AM

                          Details on this year's sake fest for whomever's interested...

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