Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
For a state that’s one of the most landlocked in the country, it’s amazing how many sushi places we have. I’m beginning to think that it’s a culinary sea change: what steaks, scotch and gin martinis were to our grandparents, sushi, saki bombs and tutti-frutti martinis are to this generation. Another sushi spot, Hoshi Sushi Lounge, recently opened in the Drake Area.
Who/what: The owner is Jeremy Toland. While this is his first experience owning a restaurant, he has worked in a number of eateries in Ames, Iowa City and Des Moines. Head sushi chef Swan Lo previously worked at the Waterfront, while another chef, Khamponh Prasasouk, worked at Waterfront and, before that, was a head sushi chef in L.A.
Ambiance: There’s a good groove going on at this spot, which formerly housed Frank’s Pizza, thanks to the stylish bar, with svelte brushed-nickel lamps and a promising array of handsome liquor bottles.
I could have lived without the radio chatter that interrupted an otherwise appropriate stream of contemporary music, and whether or not you want to dine in a place where 20-somethings pound on the bar and shout, “SA-KI-BOMB” is up to you. I will admit that some nights, that’s not a bad thing at all.
Menu: Sushi, Yakisoba (a Japanese egg noodle dish), tempura, and teriyaki anchor the menu, with a handful of salads and appetizers to choose from as well. A lengthy list of beer, plum wine and sake, specialty drinks and wine all offer compelling reasons why the word “lounge” deserves prominent placement in this restaurant’s name.
First sips: Though they could have been served much, much colder, the Orchid and Lemon Drop martini-style cocktails both offered sweet and cool ways to kick off dinner.
First bites: Thumbs up to the vegetable tempura, a good selection (sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, asparagus and more) swathed in a perfectly puffy, crisp, greaseless and hot coating. The sushi rolls mostly hit their mark, too. Tops was the Hoshi Roll, a busy and energetic cylinder of crunchy tempura and cucumber, slithery avocado and mango, and smooth cream cheese topped with a salty-sweet eel sauce. More signature combos are in the works, said manager Kimberly Patterson.
Bottom line: A casual, lively spot for sips and sushi.
Hoshi Sushi Lounge
ADDRESS: 2314 University Ave.
HOURS: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-
11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday,
11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
PHONE: (515) 369-7253
CUISINE: Sushi and other Japanese specialties
NOISE LEVEL: Good (except when radio ad chatter kicks in)
ALCOHOL SERVED: Most definitely
TAKEOUT MENU: Yes
DISABLED ACCESSIBILITY: Yes
FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Not especially
PARKING: On street