published Friday, July 6th, 2012

Atmosphere, service and Asian fusion on menu at E-Sushi

Melding Japanese, Southeast Asian and Chinese styles and flavors, E-Sushi's "Asian fusion" claim is no exaggeration.

The new restaurant in the former Sekisui location at Second and Market streets draws on the traditions of Asian and Pacific cultures, with some Western influences thrown in.

The menu

E-Sushi's appetizer menu is broad and varied, listing 22 starters from gyoza (Japanese fried dumplings, $4.95) through satay beef sticks ($4.95), deep-fried calamari or scallops ($6.95, $7.95) to tempura, spring rolls and Korean beef barbecued ribs ($7.95). Four soups are offered besides miso, including traditional Chinese hot and sour and Thai tom yum ($2.75 to $4.95).

Sushi and sashimi -- more than 40 varieties of rolls in various combinations of seafood, veggies and toppings ($3.50-$12) -- dominate the menu. There are plentiful fish choices for rolls, including nigiri (plain vinegared rice topped with fish) or sashimi (raw, sliced fish with dipping sauce but no rice) from tuna and salmon to red snapper and mackerel. Crabstick, shrimp and scallops, eel, octopus and fish roe also are offered. The menu has photos of featured rolls, and a star on the photo denotes raw items. These come in a variety of combinations, from entrees to lunch specials.

If you want more than sushi, entrees include teriyaki chicken, beef, shrimp or salmon ($13.95 to $16.75), noodles ($8.95 to $12.50) and fried rice combined with your choice of meats and veggies ($7.95-$13.95).

IF YOU GO

What: E-Sushi Asian Fusion Cuisine, 200 Market St.

Phone: 423-668-2788.

Website: www.esushichattanooga.com.

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Price range: $1.95 (miso soup)-$38.95 (E-Sushi Love Boat sushi combo).

Chef's specials offer even more choices of seafood, chicken or beef with veggies and sauces. Those who seek familiar flavors would probably enjoy Hawaiian pineapple beef ($13.95), with bell peppers and onions in a sweet-sour sauce, or chicken and vegetables with penne pasta ($11.95), with a white wine and garlic sauce.

Sesame chicken ($12.95) and breaded chicken or pork cutlets ("katsu," $12.75) likely would be reassuring to diners new to Asian flavors. Old hands might want to try the grilled Japanese eel ($15.25) or grilled squid teriyaki ($8.75).

A kids' menu offers teriyaki, noodles, sushi or chicken nuggets and french fries ($2.95 to $7.50).

Hibachi dinners ($13.95 to $25.95) come with a choice of chicken, shrimp, salmon or steak. The E-Sushi Deluxe has lobster, shrimp and scallops.

Entrees are served with miso soup, salad, steamed or fried rice, and vegetable.

Desserts include ice cream, with flavors such as tea and red bean, along with traditional chocolate and vanilla ($3.50-$3.75); fried bananas ($4.75); and cheesecake ($3.95).

The order

My order was eel dragon roll and crispy shrimp with honey walnuts. My dining companion ordered shrimp and eel nigiri and Japanese curry.

The dragon roll was topped with thin avocado slices. The eel was mild-flavored and the avocado perfectly ripe. The nigiri were flavorful and fresh.

The miso soup was light, and the ginger dressing that came with the small serving of fresh, crisp lettuce salad was much above average.

Both entrees were yummy.

The crispy shrimp in mine were coated in a very light tempura batter. They sat atop a velvety-smooth, sweet white sauce that had a touch of mustard. More sauce was ladled over the very mild-flavored shrimp and the toasted walnuts sprinkled among them. Steamed broccoli, cooked just to tenderness, surrounded the dish.

My companion's curry had plenty of sliced chicken with carrots, onions and potatoes. The spicy gravy tasted of curry and five-spice powder, which complemented rather than clashed with each other. We both asked for steamed rather than fried rice.

With the sushi, the soup and salad and the entrees, neither of us had room for dessert, but our server brought us small cups of chocolate and vanilla ice cream to end the meal.

The service

Our visit was early in the dinner hour, and we were seated immediately. The server, deft and friendly, was there immediately to greet us and take drink orders and came back a couple of times as we perused the bountiful menu before deciding.

My only complaint is the order of presentation. The soup and salad were served at the same time, and when they were removed, entrees arrived just moments after the sushi appetizer. I would have liked more time between courses.

The space

E-Sushi's decor has what I'd call an Asian-industrial vibe. There's no ceiling above the red walls; the upper spaces, the light fixtures and heat-and-air ducts are painted black, and curved panels are suspended above the central table area.

Dark wood booths and tables sit on either side of a central divider. The large windows are covered with shades to block the afternoon sun.

Asian knickknacks and silk vines and flowers add interest to the entry area and set off a long table for large parties to one side of the door.

A sushi bar and full-service cocktail bar are fitted against the far wall, with the kitchen set off out of sight to the rear of the room.

The verdict

Interesting atmosphere, good service and a menu full of tempting tastes to try? No question; I'll go back to E-Sushi.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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