I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I drove out to Giapponese, the new sushi bar / restaurant in Woodbury. Sushi is everywhere these days, including the refrigerator cases of local supermarkets, and since the sushi restaurants all tend to get the same ingredients from the same suppliers, it has become a pretty generic product. But the name – Italian for “Japanese” — was intriguing, and the online menu sounded pretty interesting: smoked salmon bruschetta and poki (the Hawaiian version of tuna tartare); and some varieties of fish and shellfish that seldom show up on local sushi menus, such as kawahagi (file fish, a member of the blowfish family) kinmeidai (golden eye snapper), kohada (gizzard shad) and walu (the Hawaiian name for a variety of escolar, sometimes sold as white tuna.
When I asked for omakase (chef’s choice), chef-owner Henry Chan immediately knew what I wanted, and proceeded to serve up a delightful series of courses: raw scallop, Tasmanian salmon, halibut rolled in a thin ribbon of cucumber, a whole small mackerel presented as sashimi, and a roll of tempura shrimp and avocado topped with tuna. Chan, who grew up in Wisconsin, recently moved here from Eau Claire, where he owns the town’s only sushi bar, the Shanghai Bistro.
Chan clearly has a passion for sushi, and listening to him, he sounds really committed to bringing in the best quality and most interesting varieties he can find. The selection is still pretty limited, but he says that as his sales volume grows, he will be adding more varieties. If you want to be notified when new and interesting varieties of sushi and seafood are available, send him an email at email@example.com. I just got an email yesterday, announcing the arrival of his live tanks (for holding lobster and shrimp), and a shipment of Hamma Hamma oysters from Washington state.
I’d like to go back sometime to try the Kobe beef steaks – a 16 ounce bone-in New York Strip and a 14 ounce ribeye, both $55. This isn’t the original Kobe beef from Japan, where the cattle are massaged daily and fed rations of beer, but it’s the same breed, Wagyu. Chan gets his beef from a friend who has a herd of Wagyu near Augusta, Wisconsin. $55 for a steak sounds pretty steep, compared to what other restaurants charge, it’s a bargain. Locally, Cosmos has imported Japanese Kobe beef on its menu for $17 an ounce (which would work out to $272 for a 16-ounce steak), and even that is a bargain compared to Craftsteak in Las Vegas. Craftsteak charges $105 for a 14-ounce American Wagyu ribeye, $184 for an eight-ounce Australian Wagyu ribeye, and $240 for an eight-ounce Japanese Wagyu steak – which works out to $480 a pound.
10060 Citywalk Drive
Woodbury, MN 55129