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Where Y’Eat: Rolling In A Golden Age of Sushi

A selection of chef style sushi at Shogun.
Photo by Ian McNulty
A selection of chef style sushi at Shogun.

A chorus of exclamations and laughter rose from the hibachi tables as the presiding chefs completed some stunt over the grills. But across the room, at the corner of the sushi bar, there was a more hushed but consistent swoon going down.

We had stopped at Shogun the long-running Japanese restaurant in Metairie, for lunch one sweltering Saturday. We focused on the specials board. The more we tasted, the more we wanted.

Salmon belly nigiri had the color and fat ratio of bacon cut off the slab. A single raw oyster was augmented by sea urchin and salmon roe – a flavor bombshell on the half shell.

Part of the delight came through the unheralded nature of it all, for finding top flight sushi at a large suburban restaurant that’s been around forever (or at least since the ‘80s).

This was an everyday meal built around the ever-changing specials, and a highlight of a sushi safari I’ve been directing for myself through the summer. New players have created captivating niches for raw seafood hounds.

Sukeban, the 16-seat bar on Oak Street, has specials that have made me scramble my calendar to get a taste, like razor clams.

And Metairie has become an especially rich sushi grounds. Right now there’s nothing better than Yakuza House. This started out as a sushi bar of just six seats but last year made the leap to a much larger location, still in Metairie, where the care, flair and flavor of the sushi just cannot be beat.

We also have a number of omakase parlors now serving that chef tasting menu approach to sushi.

And the latest is in, that’s right, Metairie. Seiji’s Omakase is a restaurant within a restaurant, found inside the Little Tokyo on Causeway. A meal here means you are not just in the chef’s hands, but also in his embrace of big hearted hospitality.

Surprises abound on the sushi safari, from new finds to a classic revealing itself to be in fine form after all this time at Shogun.

This is a golden age for sushi in New Orleans people, long may it roll.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.