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Sunday, November 28, 2010


Appleton's Sushi Surge: Sapporo Shines

What's up with the invasion of sushi into Appleton? Whatever is motivating the sushi surge, I welcome it. As I've previously reported, Appleton has long had great sushi at Koreana (delicious, high-end) (pricier but even more delicious), Far East, Nakashimas, and Fuji Sushi (a buffet with perhaps the best value for hungry sushi cravers), not to mention the relatively recent addition of Dong Po's sushi bar and limited sushi offerings (mostly in the style of California rolls) at Asia Garden, Hong Kong Buffet in Neenah, and some other places. But in the past few weeks, we've been had a surprising sushi surge on the southeast side of town, where Sapporos and the Thai, Sushi, and Japanese Steakhouse establishments are competing within a few blocks of each other on Eisenhower Road. Sapporo's is just north of Calumet in the strip mall on the east side of the street across from Kohls, very close to the popular new Anytime Fitness gym (where I happen to have a membership - awesome place, by the way).

I took my son, recently returned from two years in Taiwan, to Sapporo Sushi for lunch. What I love about Sapporo's is that they use the fun and convenient floating sushi boat system, popularized in Japan, I believe, to deliver a steady stream of sushi offerings to customers who can simply take what looks good right off the moving sushi boats. Based on the color of the plates, the cost of the dishes (typically two pieces of sushi, sometimes more) ranges from 99 cents to $3.99 in one dollar intervals. Ringing up the bill is simplified: just count the plates and multiply by the cost.

When I was there, the 99-cent dishes included a daily special that was two pieces of a terrific spicy tuna roll. A tremendous and delicious value. There is a large mix of sushi types to choose from plus some other items like edame (very good soybeans), seaweed salad, and fruit. In addition to sushi and sashimi, one can also order a hot dish of unagi (eel) on a bowl of rice, miso soup, or just a bowl of hot rice. I tried both the unagi and miso soup and was especially impressed with the unagi--perhaps the best unagi I've had. Miso soup was OK but nothing to write home about and just barely interesting enough to blog about. Service was excellent and the sushi chefs were friendly and warm. This was a late lunch, about 1:30 pm, and there were just four or five others eating.

I took a group of 7 people back for dinner the same night. The restaurant was crowded, with a majority of the seats around the central sushi boat track being occupied by about 25 people. The food was still good, but there were some glitches, perhaps due to overtaxing the system and personnel. It took a surprisingly long time for utensils and water to be brought to us after we were seated. Only half of our group got water--I just got up eventually and brought glasses and water over for the others myself. We also ordered some bowls of rice, a miso soup, and the unagi. It never came. When I went to ask for the bill, the waitress, who had spent most of the night standing at a computer terminal--puzzling--said, "Oh, sorry about not bringing the rice--did I tell you were are out of rice?" That's a strange thing to run out of at a sushi place, but that still didn't explain the missing miso soup. I let it go and still left the usual tip, being a softy when it comes to sushi.

Since my group had kindly focused on the 99-cent plates for about half of what they consumed, the bill for 7 people with tax came to only $44. Not bad! And eating can be very fast if you are in a hurry.

Overall, I love the sushi boat concept and have respect for their sushi chefs and the excellent products they provide. Based on my two experiences, one at dinner and at lunch, service can vary and if you are there at a busy time, you may encounter some glitches. Stay focused on what is floating past you, though, and you should be pleased.

Update: On Dec. 2, after a fun dance class, I took my wife to Sapporo's for a quick bite of sushi. She's not a big fan of sushi, but loved it. She noticed that the sushi has more flavor than she's had in the past - partly because the chef often uses sauces in sushi rolls that add zest and flavor. I also noticed that the rice was exceptionally good--outstanding flavor just with the rice. I talked to the chef, Mr. Li, for a minute. He's actually Chinese but has 7 years of experience with AMC (?) in Japan. Very good technique.

My wife and I had a delicious and filling meal for just $12 plus two tips (waitress and chef). The miso soup was free that night--and great, as always.

Sapporo Sushi: N162 Eisenhower Drive, Appleton, WI 54915. Phone (920) 993-2222.
We've thiking about relocating from Kalamazoo, MI to Appleton and you're blog had really helped. Appleton looks like a very nice community. Thanks for your blog (and all your other sites)
I have been to Sapporo several times and am pleased with its menu as well. Don't forget to give them suggestions and ideas as they trying to provide different types of sushi on the menu. This is a place that everyone can eat to their own heart's content without breaking your budget. My son, for example, can be very pleased with the 99 cents dishes while I prefer some of the $3.99 ones. :-)
Not Impressed. My first time there to order take out. I asked for a total prior to the order, was told I would need to wait until it was ready. Then the total exceeded what I had on my and I had to leave to get the additional couple bucks. Then when I got home which is a 40 minute drive away. The order was wrong I had ordered 1 roll and the rest sushi it was all sushi rolls and the yellow tail roll was sooo fishy and definitely not fresh it was just awful. I was born and raised in Appleton my entire life and I have also lived in the Los Angeles Ca for over 9 years, I have experienced excellent sushi believe me when I say this was not impressive sushi in my opinion. I would not recommend and will never go back.
This place is now Jets Sushi with new owners. MUCH better and is all you can eat.

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