Nothing survives in that spot.
For years now I have witnessed so many restaurant concepts come and go in that area. You might know the stretch I'm talking about here, the one behind Old Chicago and Sauce on Campbell Avenue in the Campbell Plaza. Better known as the restaurant black hole.
I'm serious here. Not even a Papa John's Pizza made it out of there alive. Countless eateries, even some with a strong following and fan base, would eventually find themselves too cloistered behind the well visible heavy hitters up front near the busy byway. Upscale wine bars, fast casual hot wing joints, a frozen yogurt outlet, so on and so forth, just couldn't take the heat of no foot traffic so they eventually had to close their doors due to lack of business.
Well, I am pretty confident that trend is going to come to an end soon.
Now that a very popular breakfast and lunch eatery that packs them in everyday has taken up residency in the back lot restaurant vortex, right next door is a place that has been open for barely a year now and has already been hailed as one of the best sushi and Japanese restaurants in not only Tucson but Southern Arizona in general.
I give you: K Sushi.
|Chef doing what he does best|
Taking up residence where the old Yuki's used to be, K Sushi quietly opened up and has been slowly burning a trail to Asian fare greatness. When it did take over in the shell of a once mighty contender in the sushi ring, a lot of us just rolled our eyes and went "Yeah, good luck with that. Nothing survives in that area."
But then one day my wife, She-Ra, who is head bartender and supervisor for the juggernaut that is Old Chicago, decided to walk over and get a roll from K Sushi during a break just to check it out.
"OMG," she texted me that day, "that new sushi place is the bomb."
The bomb she said!
After that she has been a regular customer. Then other food minded friends started piping up about K Sushi, Facebooking and Tweeting images of their wares. Their Yelp page is essentially nothing but 4-5 stars. Instagrams of their ramen and rolls were to be had by various folk impressed enough to share their dining experience there with the world. Alright, I guess this new sushi joint is legit. Let's give it a shot.
So on a rather hot early May day, the Tucson Homeskillet just had to to pop in and see what all the cheering was about.
|Green mussels about to go down|
First off, we were the only ones there. The parking lot was packed but that was obvious due to the hot new kid in town serving up egg benedicts next door or my wife's place with 110 beers in her selection taking predominance in front. We thought maybe some of those parked around here might be inside K Sushi keeping cool from the near 100 degree heat outside, but...nope.
At first I thought this was a sign for what we were about to consume. If a restaurant is this slow on a weekday lunch hour then some caution should be considered. But it didn't matter. We were here, we were hungry and we wanted to see if the hype was correct.
We were greeted at the door by a young and smiling girl who quickly sat us on a comfortable booth near a window. After ordering drinks we began to ponder the rather, uh, generous menu that takes up three different plastic protected folios, each scattered with various options ranging from ramen, to rolls, to sashimi to salads, to... You know, if you've been to a nice sushi restaurant you know what I'm getting at here.
"But you have to get the Bear Down Roll," She-Ra insisted. "It is literally the best thing ever."
So we ordered up a decent selection of stuff to sample and sat back and waited for the outcome.
|Sashimi plate was inspired and amazing|
As per usual, we got miso soup right up front. It was light and brothy and very tasty if not slightly understated. Then came the edamame. Again, perfect. Hot, salty with each pod delivering a nice chewy bite. So far so good. I mean, if a sushi restaurant screws up miso soup and edamame then my guess is that the food to follow is going to be reflected by the basics: It's probably going to suck.
Our first two introductions definitely did not suck.
Soon after, the real stuff started coming out.
First up was the green mussels. Green mussels? No, chill, it's not the color of the actual mussel itself but the shell they come in. Gosh. These things were really tasty and very well composed. Lightly seared with a topping of a good spicy mayo and then finished with masago and toasted sesame seeds on a bed of perfectly cooked rice. The rice itself actually soaks up some of the run off from the mussel and mayo so you kind of can just pick one up and suck it down like any good hand held shell fish. Thing is, you get two mussels in one shell so for two people this item was a perfect way to start the sushi fest.
Now we were excited to see what was coming up next.
|Dynamite Roll: spicy, creamy, delicious|
Second we were treated to the fantastic and immaculate sashimi platter. Each cut of the salmon, yellow tail, tuna and white tuna was so fresh and flavorful that we temporarily forgot that we were in a land locked state. With tobiko and scallions covering the yellow tail that feature easily became my favorite. I mean, every piece was amazing but...c'mon. This was melt in your mouth heaven.
For real, just go back two pictures and take in the presentation that K Sushi delivers. Was it because we were the only ones in there at the time? Doubtful. With much obvious ardor that platter was constructed and considered and for that we were very grateful.
Now things were about to only get better.
|The Bear Down Roll, aka quite possibly the best thing you will eat anytime soon|
The Dynamite Roll was a volcano tower consisting of a California Roll that is paired with baked small sea scallops and then finished with a spicy drizzle of a house awesome dressing. The word decadent comes to mind when savoring each bite with a good fiery sting that lingers after you finish. At this point we were sort of getting close to the wall but carried on because, hey...you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.
Then, yes, the much sought after and much applauded Bear Down Roll made it to the table. This thing was huge, long, intimidating. Stuffed with incredible shrimp tempura, the Bear Down is also covered with avocado, spicy kani (crab) and drizzled with a house spicy sauce. Think crunch, think savory, think spice, think full fatty goodness...yes, the Bear Down Roll is one of the best things I have eaten in quite some time and now I owe my wife an apology for thinking otherwise. We couldn't stop eating it and when it was gone, we missed it. Sure we were full but it didn't matter. The flavors happening at that moment were too irresistible to, um...resist.
Trust us here.
Finally we were treated to the Aburi Salmon, something we were not expecting. Two precision cuts of salmon on a bed of rice were seared with a blow torch and finished with a lush sauce that delivered a bit of heat, then on top of that spice we got two big pieces of garden fresh jalapenos. Strictly sumptuous and well crafted with that sneaky burn factor that mind the back of the tongue; an extol scorch for an exquisite lingering sushi session.
To put things in perspective: K Sushi may be new to Tucson but we have a feeling they will be doing what they do here for a bit of time to come. At least we hope so.
No. They will.
|Aburi Salmon, slightly charred and mostly incredible|
And what exactly does the K stand for? Well, it happens to be the first letter in the last name of the family that runs and owns the place.
That's right, the Kwan family are Chinese, in fact they all hail from Hong Kong. Cool right? So a Chinese family living in Tucson is serving up some of the best Japanese food here or anywhere. For that alone the Tucson Homeskillet salutes them. That'd be like me going to India and operating a Jamaican food stand. Think about that.
You know what...that doesn't sound half bad.
Regardless, you need to get to K Sushi as soon as you can before they get as busy as their neighbors. I heard their ramen was amazing too. So I better stop typing and get moving along the old ramen trail here and get back to K Sushi.
Hopefully, you'll be there too.
|Thank you K Sushi!|
K Sushi Bar Japanese Restaurant
2962 N. Campbell Ave, Tucson AZ
Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Star Wars Day, 2016