Stroll into Kaze Sushi Bar & Grill in downtown SLC and the first thing that will probably catch your eye is a huge wave. On the back wall of the restaurant is a mural sized reproduction of Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai’s Great Wave Off Kanagawa woodblock print. It’s just one aspect of an eatery with lots of eye appeal. Well, sort of.
I hesitate on the eye appeal front because the once intimate sushi space that was Kaze has grown in recent months. The owners took over the property next door to Kaze, which was formerly the downtown Real Salt Lake Store, after it closed. They knocked a wall down and expanded the restaurant’s seating area. Unfortunately, now that side of the restaurant looks sort of like a warehouse with tables and chairs. The lighting is harsh and the large space usually looks empty. Hopefully some work will be done to make the new addition to Kaze look as beautiful as the original space does.
The Kaze owners also operate the Ozora Izakaya restaurants downtown and in Sugarhouse, which gives them some clout when it comes to ordering fresh fish and other ingredients. I was told they get fresh fish deliveries three times per week. Some of the menu items are repeated on all three restaurant menus – for instance, the Triple Sushi Tacos ($12), Tonkatsu ($13.99), Sunomono Salad ($4.50) and Washu Beef Tataki ($14.99).
There are lots of tasty appetizers to be enjoyed at Kaze, from grilled Hokkaido Scallops ($12.99), Tuna Tataki ($14.99), and Hamachi Jalapeño ($12.99), to Edamame ($4.50), Kaze Style Kakuni (braised pork belly), pan-seared pork Gyoza ($5.99) and others.
When visiting sushi eateries, my wife and I usually like to begin with something on the lighter side, such as nigiri and/or sashimi, before jumping into heavier menu items like sushi rolls. At Kaze, we enjoyed the generously-sized maguro tuna and hamachi nigiri ($6/two pieces), which came unadorned. Our server, Gia, was terrific – answering lots of questions that we had about the restaurant and menu, keeping our water glasses filled, and she was super friendly, as were all of the staff that we encountered at Kaze.
For sashimi lovers, the Hamachi Crudo ($12) is hard to top. Gorgeous slices of raw yellowtail are served with micro greens, cherry tomatoes, yuzu miso and truffled ponzu. Absolutely delicious.
One of the Kaze special sushi rolls that Gia suggested we try was called Kabuki ($13). It was a great recommendation: minced tuna with spicy sauce and shishito pepper topped with seared escolar and ponzu. For those who enjoy riceless rolls, I suggest an order of Kyuri ($15), which is salmon, tuna, spicy crab, avocado, lemon and mango wrapped not in rice, but in a cucumber skin with ponzu sauce.
There is a substantial variety of imported premium sake at Kaze, including a sake tasting flight for $13. The wine selection, however, is fairly limited but does include a handful of good options like Conundrum, Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay, Bucklin Bambino Zinfandel, Ransom “Jigsaw” Pinot Noir, and others.
In addition to nigiri, sashimi, maki rolls and such, Kaze also offers a number of cooked dishes, which range from a 12 oz. Kaze Steak ($24) and Black Cod Saikyo Yaki ($16), to Unagi Donburi ($17), Teriyaki dishes ($9.50) and Bento Boxes. For ramen lovers, there is classic Tonkotsu Ramen ($11) as well as Miso Vegetarian Ramen ($11) and Shrimp Tempura Ramen ($11).
Not quite ready to call it a night, my wife and I ordered one more roll from Kaze’s Traditional Sushi Roll menu. Tekka-Maki ($5.50) was straightforward: sushi grade tuna wrapped in sushi rice and nori, with fresh ginger and wasabi alongside. It hit the spot perfectly.
Kaze Sushi Bar & Grill might not be the most unique or innovative Japanese restaurant in town. However, if you’re looking for solid sushi, a pleasant atmosphere, good vibes and professional friendly service, catch a wave at Kaze.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy of Kaze
Culinary quote of the week:
“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” — Orson Welles
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.