Oyama Sushi           Restaurant Spotlight

Article by Cindy Hadish
Photography by Justin Fox

There are two sides to Oyama Sushi Japanese Steak House, both equally popular with connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine and newcomers, alike.

Step into the restaurant – conveniently located near the Wehrenberg Galaxy 16 Cine – and find tables to the left, oftentimes full of diners stopping by for lunch or dinner, while to the right are the hibachi tables, a hot spot especially on weekends, with groups of people out for family meals and parties.

Skilled chefs demonstrate their culinary showmanship on the hibachi side, creating steak, vegetable, chicken and seafood meals over the hot iron grills, while putting on a show with their flashing knives; tossing food into customers’ mouths and other tricks of the trade.

Owner Henry Liu is in his ninth year of business at Oyama Sushi, whose mission is to provide fresh, healthy and delicious food in a friendly atmosphere. Tangerine orange walls offer a warm background for the spotless wooden tables and chairs, with a soothing fountain just inside the door, and decorative fans, vases and more providing touches of Japanese decor.

Customers rave about the excellent service, often attributed to Liu’s presence on a regular basis at the restaurant.

Liu pointed out that several new varieties of sake are becoming popular, including a coconut flavored variety and one with a hint of peach. The restaurant offers full bar service, with imported and domestic beer, wine and specialty cocktails, such as the Banzai, with Grey Goose vodka, Midori, pineapple and orange juice, and the Oyama Tini, with Malibu Rum, raspberry liqueur, sake and pineapple juice.

We started our lunch with shrimp tempura, a batter-fried shrimp that also included sections of fried zucchini and sweet potatoes, all made with a delicate batter that didn’t overpower the shrimp and veggies, and served with a homemade tempura sauce. The dish, as are all of the menu items at Oyama Sushi, was beautifully prepared; in this case, stacked to a peak and adorned with an edible flower.

Next up, a large pot of kimchi udon noodle soup – one of several hot pots at Oyama Sushi – proved to be the perfect dish for a cold day. The kimchi udon includes pea pods, carrots and other vegetables, cooked just slightly to stay crunchy, and shrimp, clams, squid and fish cake, as well as thick, homemade-style noodles. The soup has the spiciness of kimchi, packing a punch of heat.

Oyama Sushi offers more than 50 rolls and our table was treated to one of the most popular: the Cedar Rapids roll, along with a newcomer, called Poker Face. Especially for those of us with less experience in the sushi world, it’s easy to see why the Cedar Rapids roll is so well-liked. With lobster meat, avocado, cream cheese and crab meat crunch, spicy mayo and masago, (an orange-red smelt roe, or fish eggs) the roll is lightly fried and had no “fishy” aftertaste.

The Poker Face, too, was not overpoweringly fishy, even though its main ingredients are seared white tuna and pepper tuna, along with avocado, Dutch’s mustard sauce and tobiko (flying fish roe.) With the wide range of roll options available at Oyama Sushi, the Dinner Maki special makes it easier to choose, offering soup and salad, along with any three rolls.

For those new to Japanese cuisine, Oyama Sushi points out that in Japan, sushi is vinegared rice, usually topped with other ingredients, including fish, various meats and vegetables. Outside of Japan, sushi is sometimes misunderstood to mean the raw fish itself. In Japan, sliced raw fish alone is called sashimi. Fans of both can choose a variety in the sushi appetizer, with five assorted pieces of sushi, or and sashimi appetizer, which includes seven pieces of sashimi. Sushi also is offered a la carte, and numerous other seafood, meat and vegetable appetizers are available, as well as a variety of entrees, such as shrimp teriyaki and the teppanyaki options, ranging from vegetable all the way to the Lover’s Dinner for Two, featuring lobster tail, scallops, shrimp and filet mignon.

Kid friendly meals also are available and the Lunch Box is a popular menu item offered during lunch, which includes a combination of items, along with miso soup, a salad, California roll and more.

Oyama Sushi has been honored by Urbanspoon, the KCRG A-List and other awards; a testament to the skilled chefs, staff and food, which brings loyal fans back to the restaurant and is inviting for newcomers, as well. The restaurant is open daily, including Christmas and New Year’s.

Oyama Sushi Japanese Steak House, 5350 Council St. NE, is open daily for dine-in or takeout. Lunch hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays. Call (319) 832-1800 and see: www.oyamasushi.com

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