Shawn’s secret 

Credit: Mark Hancock

 It’s all the same fish. Can we agree on that?

There has been a sushi explosion — figurative, not literal — in Oklahoma City over the last decade. There are lots of places that will gladly roll strips of raw fish with strips of vegetables inside a blanket of rice and seaweed.

But nobody has fresh fish.

Nobody caught that tuna today at Tenkiller and brought it over to Oklahoma City for your nigiri. That salmon/shrimp/eel you’re eager to devour was frozen at some point. That happened.

And you know what? It’s fine.

We’re a lot better at freezing and defrosting things than we used to be. But if you think that the fish is superior from shop to shop, you’re mostly fooling yourself. The food may vary, depending on the skill and artistry of the chefs, but that’s true of any cuisine.

With that in mind, I invite you to consider a restaurant whose name does not inspire confidence in traditional Japanese cooking, but does the job, regardless: Shawn’s Sushi.

Shawn’s began its life as a parttime business run out of the Kolache Kitchen. So, yeah, Shawn’s Sushi is a big improvement over “Sushi at the Kolache Kitchen.” But the draw is still the same: pretty good sushi for a little cheaper than you’ll find it elsewhere.

The rolls are standard. The Tootsie ($4.50) is good. So is the Crazy Cajun ($11.99). There are several rolls with fried components, but lots of them are fresh and raw and tasty, the way Yojimbo, god of sushi, commands.

I’m never quite sure what the “standard” ingredients of a Philly roll ($4.95) are supposed to be, but cream cheese and salmon are always tasty, so it doesn’t really matter. At Shawn’s, the third
component is asparagus, which makes me happy. No offense if you’re one
of those who prefer cucumber in a Philly roll, but you’re wrong and you
should feel bad about yourself.

Most of the rolls with
lots of sauces on them blend together. Which is probably why I most
enjoy the sushi that has the least amount of dressing: nigiri. And at
Shawn’s, my favorites are mackerel ($4.50) and albacore loin ($5).

you hate fish that tastes like fish, please don’t bother with mackerel.
It’s salty and firm and it tastes like fish. Personally, I like fish,
so I keep ordering it. The albacore loin is less pungent, but equally
delicious. I think it has a slightly sweeter flavor than regular tuna

(although I’m happy eating both).

gyoza ($4.95) are tasty little dumplings, but nothing to write home
about. (But writing and sending to my boss are OK.) They’re a little
chewy, which is better than being so tender they fall apart.

sushi is Shawn’s main draw, but they have another set of dishes I
highly recommend: the house-made noodles. These are thick, delicious
noodle dishes that are filling and perfect for that one person in the
party who doesn’t like sushi. The best, in my estimation, is the
teriyaki chicken noodle ($7.99).

you’re looking for fancy, keep looking. Shawn’s Sushi sells sushi that
tastes good, looks fine and costs a little less than competitors.
Because the thing I value most in a sushi restaurant is their ability to
serve me sushi. Everything else is window dressing.

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

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