Tei Me Away

Fusion restaurants continue to trend in the U.S. Is this a new sign that we’re heading towards world peace? Maybe, if we can all satisfy our palettes together.

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Nippon Tei offers a Westernized vision of a Japanese bar, complete with your choice of a traditional sit-down area or a modern lounge. Jackie, who introduced the restaurant to me, regularly orders lobster rolls (for one reason or another, it’s not on the online menu).

I soon found out why. The chef stacked tempura sushi rolls into an elegant fountain-like display, drizzled in mayo, soy sauce and fish eggs. Tempura flakes were stuffed at the base of the glass.

The tempura appetizer (shrimp & veggies) included a whole broccoli– and when I mean whole, I mean like an entire stem was dipped in tempura and fried that way. There was no appropriate way to eat it without cutting into the broccoli itself.

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Overwhelmed with the amount of sushi selections, I chose katsu donbori off the regular menu. Katsu is taken from tonkatsu, meaning pork cutlet, and donbori translates into “bowl.” I usually see this dish listed as tonkatsu or katsudon.

The pork cutlets were probably pre-made and re-fried when ordered, which explains its dark brown color as opposed to the standard light brown. You can’t really go wrong when you mix pork cutlets, onions and rice– but the meat situation’s definitely a matter of quantity over quality. I don’t recall eating any scallions, though the menu’s description said the dish would be “topped” with them.

caterpillar crawlll

While the lobster roll’s appearance blows all other sushi out of the water, the sashimi could use some work. I didn’t even recognize what was on the plate; the huge slices of fish resembled chicken breast more than anything else.

Despite the unfeasible tempura broccoli, missing scallions and monstrous sashimi, Nippon Tei has the perfect chill atmosphere. The lights are dim enough to feel romantic (if need be) and you could really dress up or down depending on the occasion. Nippon Tei’s strong point seems to be in maki rolls, enough to fill one man or to split for variety between friends. What better way to impress someone than with sushi in a margarita glass?

Based on this experience:

★★★ out of 5

$ range: cut-rate | fair | pricey (compared to other fusion restaurants)

Portion size: petite | just enough | generous

Service: poor | fair | excellent

Tip: Though tempting, don’t sit in the lounge area unless you’re set on only ordering sushi or a few drinks. I ate my meal with a huge bowl on my lap.

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