Purists will tell you the only two things truly necessary for delicious sushi are impeccably fresh fish and perfectly-cooked and seasoned sushi rice. Those simple foods are served with the strong and spicy flavors of soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi paste to add flavor. Tai is the co-owner and chief flavor magician at Samurai Noodle where she infuses Thai influence among traditional Japanese flavors. Her attention to detail is impeccable and oh-so-delicious. At Samurai Noodle, she and her husband, Ricky, now serve the sushi already perfected at their sister restaurants Pink Basil (Mystic) and Spice Club (Niantic). It was worth the wait.
On a cold evening, my dining companion and I dip into large, warming bowls of miso soup while awaiting the main attraction. Large pieces of tofu, vibrant baby bok choy and large mushroom slices add delicious substance to the miso broth.
Four white rectangular plates are placed between us. Each Special Roll is artistically displayed on a bamboo leaf. Individual pieces are beautiful. The Mystic Drawbridge Roll contains spicy tuna, crabmeat and cucumber, and is topped with salmon, tuna, avocado, tempura flakes and ponzu sauce. The result is creamy, spicy, crunchy and delicious.
Unicorn Roll contains shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, and is topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, tobiko, crunchy tempura flakes and an unexpected but tasty fried onion sauce.
Crunchy Tuna Roll has fresh spicy tuna, cucumber and tempura flakes that are topped with avocado, more tempura flakes, tobiko, and spicy mayo. The extra kick from the spicy mayo is scrumptious.
Samurai Roll with Soft Shell Crab, tempura, cucumber, & avocado is topped with spicy salmon, tempura flakes, tobiko, spicy mayo and eel sauce. Vibrant jalapeño and scallions pump up the flavor with great results.
Each of the Specialty Rolls is packed with premium ingredients and only the tiniest layer of rice, often only one or two grains thick. Tai shares how she re-trains new sushi chefs who are used to adding a bit of fish and flavor to a pile of rice. The level of skill required to slice and mold perfectly-ripe avocado onto the exterior of a roll without it becoming mushy borders on magical. The Unicorn Roll has beautiful alternating exteriors of salmon, tuna, and yellowfin so each bite looks and tastes deliciously different. Balanced, bold flavors in each roll need no soy sauce, ginger or wasabi. Simpler traditional sushi rolls include a larger percentage of rice along with Tuna, Yellow Tail, Asparagus, Spicy Crabmeat, Avocado, California Roll, Shrimp, Smoked Salmon, etc.
Tai grew up in Thailand eating only delicious homemade food, often home-grown and including a special rice they still grow today. Laborious kitchen chores established a lifelong standard of quality and flavor she describes as “picky.” When visiting family, Tai takes cooking classes from a Michelin Star chef in Thailand in order to keep up with what she calls her “couture taste.” Classic Japanese techniques are boosted by Tai’s personalized layers of flavor in all dishes. Everything is prepared from scratch just like mom taught her. Specialty spices and resources come directly from Japan. Even when details are not recognized separately the collective results are delicious and beautiful. Even the edible orchids are vibrantly fresh and mildly flavored. What a great addition to downtown Mystic!
Fresh fish is procured from Japanese specialty suppliers who import fish from the cleanest waters around the world. The importance of using only fish which has been tested for parasites and treated for safe, raw consumption cannot be overstated as poké and sushi grow in popularity. The fresh fish arrives every other day at Samurai Noodle and is a foundation for safety and flavor.
Sushi is served Mon.-Fri. 5:00 p.m. – close. Sat. & Sun. noon-close.
Happy Hour 3-6 p.m. DAILY includes $4 regular sushi rolls including our bartender Dennis’ favorites Spicy Crabmeat (regularly $6.95) and Spicy Tuna (regularly $6.96). On Super Bowl Sunday, the $4 sushi special will run until the end of the game.
Regular Happy Hour specials include $1 hot wings, $5 Gyozas (filled buns), $6 pork buns, and $6 hot chicken buns, $5 house wines and $4 domestic bottles of beer.
BIG NEWS! Samurai Noodle now delivers within three miles of them from 4-9 p.m. Start your order at samurainoodlemystic.com or text SAMURAIN to 33733. For a limited time get 10% off your first online order (pickup OR delivery). You may order days ahead, if desired, and a confirmation text will be sent to you. Type in your address to see if Samurai Noodle delivers to you. The delivery fee is $4 with a minimum order of $15.
Samurai Noodle Bar & Grill
27 West Main St., Mystic