- 1315 31st St., Des Moines, IA, 50311
- Overall User Rating:
- (3 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
In this town, some sushi restaurants are more about the scene than the sushi, while others are all about the food. After one very successful preview visit to Haiku, I’m thinking this new venue might just become a place to revel in both.
Who/What: Ken Lin, who also owns Appare Japanese Steakhouse in Urbandale, recently opened the venue in the Drake West Village, a handsome new development combining housing on upper floors with restaurants and services at the street level.
Décor: The “Bulldog-blue” light panels cast a glow over the black wooden banquettes and angular chairs. A sushi bar and a cocktail bar line two separate walls; overall there’s an energetic nightclub-esque appeal to the place.
Menu: Sushi stars most prominently, though the extensive menu also covers Asian and Southeast Asian bases, with noodle dishes and stir-fry options, including popular Chinese favorites (e.g. Mongolian Beef, General Tao’s Chicken) and Thai classics (e.g. Pad Thai, Thai curry). An extensive selection of soups, salads and appetizers should make this an especially good choice for small-plates-style dining.
Specialty martinis start at $5.50 and include many sweet options (Toffee Bux, Caramel Apple), making me think this spot will especially be a hit with young hipsters.
Food — first Impressions: We kicked off with shrimp Shumai, soft steamed shrimp dumplings that are delightfully delicate in both flavor and texture.
Because the sushi chef fell a little behind, our server sent out a complimentary Haiku salad to keep us busy while we waited. What a discovery! This lovely plate brought a beautifully balanced mix of sweet squid and crabmeat, nubbly toasted panko crumbs, salty fish roe, seaweed, and a fiery chile-sparked dressing and just enough lettuce for texture. It was the most lively and interesting salad I’ve had in ages.
The sushi proved admirable, too, with Spider Net Roll bringing a crunch-fest of soft-shell crab, irresistibly spiced tuna and a rim of sweet mango atop the entire roll. Equally enjoyed was the mango lover roll — more mango, but this time with shrimp, avocado, flavorful salmon and tuna.
The colorful Mongolian chicken brought a bonus of sautéed red, yellow and green sweet peppers in addition to the usual white onions and scallions. It was fresh, colorful and satisfying, but not as intriguingly spiced as the best I’ve had.
Also of note: Though the place had been open less than a week, glitches were few; both our server and the hostesses possessed the polish and poise of pros.