Sushi Alley: Taste not sacrificed in healthy fare at cozy Utica Square eatery
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, January 17, 2013
3/28/13 at 7:48 AM
For a minute I thought I was lost in an episode of "Twilight Zone."
I was looking for the new Sushi Alley restaurant and was told it was in the pass-through, or alley, on the west side of Utica Square, a place I had been dozens of times over the years. But it wasn't there.
I drove past twice, a little disoriented, before I realized the passageway had been enclosed to accommodate the new restaurant.
"Our investor was able to make that deal with Utica Square," said Greg Bossler, who operates the restaurant with Jin Baek.
Bossler and Baek are sushi chefs and worked most recently at Yokozuna and some years ago at In the Raw together. Baek also studied with "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto in Philadelphia.
"Since he came back from Philly, he is so much better," Bossler said. "I defer to him as the head chef here."
Sushi Alley has a 16-ounce porterhouse steak, but everything else on the menu is a small-plate item. The restaurant encourages family style, leisurely dining, so we met a daughter and granddaughter who like sushi for a recent dinner.
I ordered the ishiyaki beef ($18) because I wanted to see the konro grill. The grill is a small burner topped with a smooth, hot rock. It is brought to the table, and diners cook their pieces of beef (or sashimi) to their liking on the sizzling-hot rock.
Four ounces of beef was sliced into 10 or so pieces, plenty to share with the table. First, we dipped the meat into a beef sauce with our chopsticks (diners are more or less expected to use chopsticks or their fingers) and placed it on the rock to cook. A spicy-sweet mustard sauce was available to dip the meat into after cooking, and I thought it was delicious either way.
Another exquisite dish was the scallops with yuzu kosho ($7). Three plump scallops had been grilled with the sauce made from the peel of the yuzu fruit, chili peppers and salt, which gave the dish a citrusy flavor.
We passed around five different sushi rolls. They all were fresh and flavorful, but my favorite was one of Sushi Alley's "select" rolls, the taz ($12). It included grilled asparagus, avocado and micro greens topped with raw salmon, fresh dill and a side of lemon. The texture was almost creamy, and it had a wonderful flavor.
One might notice nothing is fried for the sushi rolls, and there is no cream cheese.
"That's always been the joke in the sushi business," Bossler said. "How can it be healthy if it's fried and has cream cheese? We grill all the cooked items and use goat cheese."
Prior to our main dishes, we were served a complimentary bowl of excellent miso soup, and we ordered edamame hummus ($8) from the zensai (appetizer) lineup. The dish arrived with slices of cucumber, red pepper, lemon, pita bread and tiny spoons to scoop servings off the big mound of green-hued hummus. The hummus had a pleasant flavor, and the serving was so large we could have used about twice as much pita bread to finish it.
We topped off the dinner with five pieces of gourmet chocolates ($8) from Glacier Confection and strong, French-press coffee from Topeca Coffee, both local companies.
Sushi Alley has sugar-cane sodas and teas, as well as a small but interesting wine list, beer and sake.
Although it fills the alley, it's still a small space and can get pretty cozy. The sleek, almost Spartan dining room holds 49 diners, including 11 at the underlit sushi bar. Reservations are recommended on weekends.
The staff includes Karina Cisneros, who serves as hostess, manager, sushi chef and director of marketing.
1730 Utica Square
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to
2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11
a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; accepts
all major credit cards.
Original Print Headline: Creative newcomer
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Ishiyaki beef cooks on a hot-stone konro grill at Sushi Alley. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
The Sushi Alley dining area has a sleek, almost Spartan look. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Chefs Jin Baek (left) and Greg Bossler operate the new Sushi Alley in Utica Square. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World