My general rule of thumb when it comes to Japanese restaurants: When you find a good one, stick with it.
Recently I discovered Mr. Wasabi in West Babylon, a small, discreet mom-and-pops sushi joint tucked away in a shopping center off Route 109. Mr. Wasabi serves generous portions of quality Japanese and sushi creations for very reasonable prices. They also honor all other Babylon Japanese restaurants’ coupons. The man himself is friendly and greets patrons with a big smile. I will be returning.
Mr. Wasabi, however, might want to consider changing his title to Dr. Wasabi, because a take-out order from his shop remedied what had been several days of excruciating pain leading up to the visit. My uvula had expanded in length three times its normal size. Eating a small piece of bread felt as though I was swallowing a handful of razorblades. I needed sushi.
My brother Al and sister Noreen, who had recommended the good doctor, joined the feast. We sat ’round a coffee table in their apartment in our socks, on the floor, just as we’d do in Japan.
First up, an order of Shumai ($4.95): six tender, sponge-ball scrunchies of steamed shrimp dumplings. I dunked one in a dish of soy, placed it upon my tongue, closed my eyes, bit down and swallowed. Oh, so good. Soft and gooey. Ms. Uvula approved. No pain. I had another.
The Beef Negimaki ($6.95) was intimidating: six thick shards of asparagus wrapped in tender meat blankets and soaked in thick brown sauce. As my incisors crushed the beef’s girth the hefty wad exploded with juices and meat, soothing my throat and esophagus on the way down. Once again, Ms. Uvula approved.
“Soft meat,” she whispered. “Feels good.”
I next tossed back a block of California Roll from the Salmon Bento Box ($12.95), which consisted of a hefty chunk of Salmon teriyaki, the roll, salad, shrimp tempura and gyoza—fried beef dumplings. The Calis were the size of half-dollars and swallowed like water.
Then I spooned some Miso Soup. Its warm, murky slather of seaweed and tofu cubes coated my throat and fueled the onslaught—greasing the tracks for the gorgeous Wasabi Trio Roll ($9.95): a weighty arch of deep-fried eel, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp and asparagus. Each piece was huge and made for a hefty weightlift of fish for my chopsticks. And it had a kick—as Ms. Uvula let out a sharp howl. It burned a bit, yet hurt so good. I had another.
The Alaska Roll ($4.50) was piled high with smoked salmon, cucumber and avocado and also swallowed smoothly. The Eel Avocado Roll ($4.50) was a dream. Oh, Avo.
Onto the sunshine prism fragments that make up the caterpillar-like Rainbow Roll ($8.95): crabmeat, avocado and cucumber draped in bright salmon, tuna and fluke. We deconstructed this rainbow, hue by hue. Thick and substantial, each shard was more than a mouthful, but not more than my jaw could mouth. The wiggly Ms. Uvula danced like a leprechaun.
Next came the Bento. We hit it hard, dissecting the large pink fish with haphazard precision. Its tender meat disappeared like oceanic chocolates, each chunk melting across our tongues.
More Miso; another Shumai. More Miso; another swath of salmon. Soy. More Trio fragments. More salmon. More R-squared. It was a massacre.
“Hat trick. Triple threat. Trifecta,” murmured my gut.
I then decapitated the salmon. Another eel roll, Alaskan roll, salad, some rice, shrimp tempura, the last of the salmon teriyaki. More clumps of soy-soaked rice, another chunk of Cali, more tempura. More Cali. Gyoza. Oova. Groovula.
Ms. Uvula was in heaven. So was my stomach. Yes, fellow food samurai, the good doctor, Mr. Wasabi, delivers.
74 Route 109
West Babylon, NY 11704