Last week Ian and I chose a random new restaurant to try, which happened to be in the same Chinatown strip mall as a few other places we like to go (Hue Thai, Penang, and Provence Bakery). The name of the Japanese restaurant is Shuseki (no website, 5115 Spring Mountain #117) and we were thrilled to make the discovery since from the street you wouldn't see it nestled in southwest corner of the first floor. Though the decor is unexciting and kind of tacky with amateur pictures of specials on the wall, our hostess/waitress was polite and efficient and we immediately felt comfortable. The first thing that appealed to me when we sat down was the layout of the menu, which has mini pictures of each dish so you know exactly what you're getting. I love to be adventurous in ordering, but it's always great to know you'll be spending money on something you'll enjoy. Also, because the pictures are small, it is easy enough to look at every dish so you can make your selection amongst the 179 items.
Since they have a sushi bar we decided to order hamachi sashimi to see how fresh their fish was. The sashimi ($7.99 for 5 pieces) was not the best I'd ever had, but it was certainly fresh and had a subtle but good flavor. The rolls all looked pretty drab and mainstream, so we decided against ordering any of them, even though the prices were reasonable. After the sashimi we had two dishes prepared in a way I had previously thought was only done at Raku, the authentic and superb Japanese restaurant down the street. These were what I like to call "Japanese tapas," or mini items that are cooked on a robata grill. We had the Bacon and Asparagus (#64, $1.50) and the Korobuta Sausage (#67, $1.50), both of which were excellent and a terrific value. Though the selection of items like these isn't as wide as it is at Raku, the prices are lower and the quality is comparable.
The real show stopper of the meal was the Spicy Pork Miso Ramen soup (#151, $7.99). This soup was so richly flavored and delicious (yet still light) that we found it nearly impossible to put down our spoons. The spicy ground pork, miso, and ample sprinkling of sesame seeds enhanced the broth tremendously, and the bean sprouts, scallions, and coddled egg gave added texture. The noodles added another dimension, and were fresh and chewy (not at all overcooked). Ramen noodles are wheat based noodles, which I personally prefer to rice noodles because they can stand up to the temperature of a big bowl of hot soup for a longer period of time. In my opinion, they also taste better. This soup was the best I've had in a long time, and ranks up there in comfort with my mom's chicken matzo ball soup. Unlike Jewish penicillin, however, this soup has some heat, which is great for clearing your nostrils of all the nasty pollen this time of year. If you are not a spice lover, they have seven other kinds of ramen to choose from, as well as four kinds of udon. I can't vouch for any of these, but based on what we had I'd be willing to try any of them.
Today's Dish Ratings:
Hamachi Sashimi: 7
Bacon and Asparagus: 9
Korobuta Sausage: 9
Spicy Pork Miso Ramen: 9.5
Restaurant Rating: 7.5
Would we go back?: I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT SOUP SO I'M SURPRISED I HAVEN'T BEEN BACK ALREADY
Korobuta Sausage (there was a third piece but Ian ate it before I took my picture)