By Sara Newberry
When Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs closed in 2016, I know a lot of people wondered what would pop up in its place. I’m sure most, like me, just assumed it would just be another pub or tavern, similar to the Cock & Bull, or another family-friendly fast-casual spot like Liberty Burger. I could not have been the only one who was surprised when SaSa Sushi moved into the space.
Inside, the space could not be more different. Gone is the fluorescent lighting and the standard-issue tables; they’ve been replaced by cool wooden pendant lights and banquette seating that runs the length of the dining room. The walls have been painted a matte black, and where the counter used to be is a sushi bar. The food, obviously, is also completely different. SaSa offers sushi (of course), but also sashimi, teriyaki, poke, udon and more.
The sushi rolls are well-rolled, in that they hold together even when dipped in soy sauce. The rice is well seasoned and not dry, while the fillings are fresh and delicate. A tuna crunch roll was filled with a lovely hunk of tuna and perfectly ripe avocado. A salmon roll was 99 percent rich, fatty salmon with 1 percent cucumber added for a little crunch and balance, while a California roll was loaded with a ton of surimi, or imitation crabmeat.
The rolls are available on their own or as part of a bento box, which comes to the table stacked and is disassembled in front of the diner. It’s an impressive presentation and makes the bento box — basically a sushi restaurant combo platter — a little more special. The bento option is accompanied by miso soup, which was pretty forgettable, and a salad, which is topped with a delicious carrot dressing that I would buy by the bottle.
Teriyaki is also one of the options for a bento box; the one at SaSa is pretty textbook, with perfectly cooked — if under-seasoned — chicken, and thankfully not cloyingly sweet teriyaki sauce.
A spicy tuna poke bowl was satisfying, with fun texture from masago (capelin roe) and an amazing creamy ponzu sauce to drizzle over the tuna, lettuce and daikon in the bowl.
An ahi tower arrives beautifully layered, with finely chopped ahi tuna, surimi, avocado and sushi rice stacked together. I was a little let down that the crab was the artificial version rather than real crabmeat, but the flavors were really nice, and I enjoyed the dish.
Tempura is available on its own and in rolls; I love it both ways. The batter is light and crunchy, covering perfectly tender vegetables and shrimp. An appetizer of roasted Brussels sprouts in ponzu was a really lovely surprise. Wisps of delicate bonito fluttered on the plate, reacting to the heat from the dish and looking almost alive.
If sushi is REALLY not your thing, fried rice is a good option. Made with sushi rice, it was dotted with sesame seeds and black pepper and was an excellent version of the dish. While fried rice can seem a little like a throwaway on a menu, I would absolutely order this one again.
Some might be disappointed that there’s not a new sports bar or cupcake shop in the space. Not me! I’m thrilled to have sushi close by that does not involve a trip to Greenville Avenue or Henderson. I’ll be back to SaSa Sushi when I need a sushi fix.
6340 Gaston Avenue
Monday-Thursday Lunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Dinner 5-10 p.m.
Friday Lunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Dinner 5-11 p.m.
Saturday noon-11 p.m.
Sunday noon-9 p.m.