Sasa is the latest restaurant offering to open in the Shaker Square area. Since my boyfriend started working at Sarava, I've been visiting Shaker more often and I'm really starting to like the place as an evening entertainment option. It's close to my Coventry apartment and it has what I enjoy during the summer: patio dining. Coventry restaurants can be nice (Pacific East, Mint Cafe), but good luck with outdoor dining. The only restaurant (and I use the term loosely) on Coventry with decent patio seating is Panini's, and my idea of a good time is not eating mediocre food while some chachbag spills his beer on me because he's too busy watching the game on the fifteen widescreen televisions blaring all over the place to see where he's going.

We were seated outside by the friendly hostess and didn't have to wait long before the server came up to take our drink orders. I went with the Tokyo Sangria, which was delicious. It was in the style of a white sangria, but had fresh ginger in it and no added sugar. It was clean, crisp, and gingery, without that cloyingly sweet taste that spoils so many fruit-base cocktails. Aron wanted sake and let the server choose one for him. I can't remember the name of what he received but I tried a bit of it and was not totally put-off. It was very smooth and drinkable. Sasa prides itself on its sake collection and holds semi-regular sake tastings in addition to Sake Night every Wednesday, where they feature select sakes at discount prices. I figure if I'm going to start learning about sake, this might be a good place to do it at.

The menu is divided up into small, medium, and large menu items, as the Izakaya style of dining encourages plate-sharing among the table, much like a tapas bar. Aron and I started with the Grill Sampler, which had small portions of shrimp, scallops in a plum wine syrup, Korean short ribs (kalbi), kushiyaki chicken on a skewer, and grilled shishito peppers. There was just enough of each item for two people to share, and they were very good. I liked the kushiyaki chicken and kalbi in particular. They were tender and not dry or chewy and the sauces chosen for each were savory and flavorful without being overtly salty. The shishito peppers were tempura fried in a light panko.

For my entree I went with the miso marinated black cod with yuzu butter sauce, grilled onions, steamed bok choy, and takikomi rice. I asked the server what takikomi rice was and she said it was similar to fried rice. I asked if it was a white or a brown rice and she said brown, so I went with the takikomi instead of subbing in something like steamed Chinese broccoli (which they do have as a side option). I should have gone with the broccoli. The takikomi rice came in a thick, glutinous puck of obviously white rice made brown by the presence of soy sauce, tasted bland and uninspiring, and had an assortment of half-hearted vegetables and teensy little shrimps in it. The rest of the entree was amazing, though. It was actually fairly impressive how incredibly bad the takikomi rice was compared to how incredibly good the rest of the entree was. I'd definitely get the black cod again as well as recommend it to anyone. Just don't get the takikomi rice. It's terrible. I'll be subbing it out of anything I get at Sasa in the future in favor of the deliciously and delicately steamed bok choy or Chinese broccoli.

For dessert we shared the brownie with green tea ice cream, which is exactly what it is: two brownies with two scoops of green tea ice cream. The brownies were moist and super chocolatey and yummy, and there was almond whipped cream on top which I think I would have bathed in given the chance. Mmmmm. All in all, an excellent meal (aside from the rice...it really was that bad, I'm mentioning how bad it is a third time just in case) and I will definitely be adding Sasa to my regular repetoire of Great Summer Dining Options.

Sasa website: http://www.sasamatsu.com/home.php

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