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Sushi Sake in Richardson - Decent fish, Atrocious prep skills.

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After several days of meat heavy meals, I decided to take a break and opt for some lighter fare during a recent business trip to Dallas.

I didn't do much research before my trip but happened on several previous threads on the Dallas board recommending Sushi Sake as one of the top contenders in town for authentic sushi. This decision was supported by a strong Yelp rating and hey even a 27 for food with Zagat (not that I cared). Coming from LA, I tempered my expectations, but felt confident it would at least be a decent meal if not great.

The interior was tastefully decorated and almost full around 6:30pm on a midweek. I scanned the specials board, nothing unique other than the sea snail/conch for the day. At this point I was still generally feeling good about my decision.

Unfortunately things began going downhill after being seated at the sushi bar. Not all the chefs were Japanese, generally not a good sign. About half of them had plastic gloves on, another concerning sign. Just some background, LA sushi bars successfully repealed a law to mandate gloves for sushi chefs recently.

My cook (unfortunately he does not merit the title of a 'chef'
for reasons you will begin to appreciate shortly) did not acknowledge me upon my arrival. Waited for a bit for him to take my order but eventually a waitress came by to take my order - more of an Americanized oriented style of operation. Still not a deal killer by any measure.

The cook soon begins preparing my neighbor's food, he starts off by steeling a 6" Santoku against a ribbed steel. It looked like one of those really cheap, nasty, wood handled stainless steel Santokus one might find in the cooking equipment section at an Asian supermarket retailing for $10. I initially assumed that it would only be used as a deba to prep shellfish or a usuba for vegetables ... To my horror this will be his primary slicing knife (in lieu a traditional yanagiba). Felt a big knot form in my stomach; and knew I was now rolling quickly downhill and headed off a cliff.

As expected, the short knife did not have enough runway to cut a decent slice off a fish fillet for the sushi neta. For the rest of my time there I cringed and painfully watched his haphazard knife skills; sawing instead of slicing through everything (seafood, rolls etc) he prepared. Things did not improve when he formed the rice/shari. He basically rolled the rice in one hand and slapped on the neta unceremoniously on the rice. There was no usual 5-6 more swift hand movements to gently mold the rice and the neta if it had been executed by a properly trained chef.

It was obvious this guy had ZERO training or had any desire to learn his craft. Utterly shameful. Jeez even a 12yr old kid with any interest in preparing sushi could have cranked out a better product watching "Dreams of Jiro" than this moron.

Part of the joy of sitting at the few coveted counter seats at a sushi bar is to watch the artistry and killer knife skills of a master chef; this felt more like being bombarded visually with the goriest bits of the bedroom scene in the Exorcist repeated over and over again on an 3D IMAX screen sitting in the front row ... I could not wait for this nightmare to end, my half hour felt like an eternity in hell.

Ironically at the end of the meal the cook proceeds to whip out an 8" or 10" yanagiba which he subsequently uses to slice an orange for dessert.
SERIOUSLY ????????????? WTF ?!!!???!!?!??!??!!???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! W.... T..... F...... ?????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?????!!!!

In all fairness the quality of the fish was decent and the chef next to my cook seemed to know what he was doing. Unfortunately I got stuck with the worst cook working the bar that nite.

This ranks as my worst and most atrocious sushi experience EVER !!!!!!!!

I'll stick to Tex-Mex, Mexican or BBQ for my future visits.

Toyota folks relocating to Plano, you have been forewarned !!!!

Sorry for the long delirious rant.

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  1. eight paragraphs of gall because the least experienced chef didn't use the knife you prefer? Did you tell anyone at the restaurant about this horror?

    1 Reply
    1. re: sanderw

      My experience was akin to a vegetarian Yankee taking a piece of berkshire/iberico pig shoulder (or Prime Angus / A5 purebred Wagyu brisket) boiling it for a few hours and then baking it on high heat in an electric oven trying to pass it off as BBQ pulled pork in the Carolinas or BBQ brisket in Lockhart/Austin/Dallas. Good ingredients, horrible execution.

      The use of a proper knife was not based on my personal preference, it's a practical requirement to slice a pristine piece off with one fell swoop ....

      Frankly I don't it would have made any difference if I told anyone... I didn't have any faith in management if someone with that little /no training was allowed to work the floor. I recognized the cook in a yelp pic posted circa 2013. He's no new kid on the block...

    2. Are you sure you aren't Leslie Brenner?

      2 Replies
      1. re: twinwillow

        Her cousin :P

        I read about the recent controversy

        1. re: twinwillow

          If Chow ever needed a "Like" button...

        2. Well we can only wish for an Urasawa experience ala KevinEats level.

          http://www.kevineats.com/2009/03/uras...

          1 Reply
          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            LH, all I can say is, thanks for the link. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!