We were craving us some sushi. And Green Papaya hit the spot.
This craving happens to me roughly every day or so; for the wife, every week or so. We tend to go with the wife’s schedule on this because it is always a bit of a chore to get to a sushi place from where we live. We live somewhere in the middle of the Nati (seriously, I am not from here and all, but why is it that there is only Eastside and Westside Nati? There is a huge portion of the city that is neither east or west.) Thai Cafe, down in the Gaslight, recently added sushi to the menu, but we tried it twice and it was borderline awful. I used to like that restaurant, but I feel it has really gone downhill. If you are really craving sushi in the Gaslight and cannot leave for some reason, just go the IGA; it is better than Thai Cafe.
Anyway, so to get sushi we had to go East. The amount of sushi on the Eastside is astounding. A couple months back, the wife and I dog-sat for some friends who took their wonderful, adorable children on a tour of the greater Midwest. We did the sitting for four days I think, and we ate sushi at approximately 13 different restaurants. At one point, I took the dog out and a section of a tuna roll hit me in the side of the head. Really! And we were in the backyard!
Ok. not really. I am just saying, there is a lot of sushi on the Eastside.
Of all the places we tried, Green Papaya was our favorite (I am not making the claim that it is the best sushi on the Eastside; we have not tried every sushi joint–that would be impossible. Also, Teak is right there with Green Papaya on sushi, and the rest of its menu is much better). So last weekend we made the trip. And again it was totally worth it.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I have stopped getting their non-sushi offerings. Some items that I have had were fine, others have been marginal. Overall, I find their Thai offerings to be undersauced, underseasoned and not creatively spiced (the hotter you want something–the more red pepper flakes you get; let me get some nuance!). But the sushi, that is another story.
The wife ordered the Green Papaya roll–their signature sushi–and she is in heaven eating the thing. It is kind of expensive for sushi ($12.95 or $13.95), but it is gigantic. The base of the roll is a few shrimp tempura with mango, cream cheese, tuna (I think) wrapped in a tortilla-esque wrap and covered in shredded crab stick, spicy mayo and bonito flakes. It is, without doubt, her favorite sushi ever.
I ordered a tuna roll, but instead of getting it plain, I asked them to put on their ‘crazy hot’ sauce. The roll was well-formed and the sauce was ‘crazy hot’ but in no way unbearable. I like hot sauces and this hit the spot. I also ordered the Rainbow roll, which is a California roll (rice, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, cucumber, avocado, crab) with one of three types of fish (tuna, salmon and white fish) and avocado wrapped around it. It was excellent. It was a good mix of creamy and crunchy, the flavors all melt together nicely and the fish was fresh. Sometimes I just pull the fish off of the outside of the roll and eat it alone, and if the fish is of a high quality it is really a wonderful experience.
As for the restaurant, it is in a sort-of strip mall area, but is very cool and laid back inside. It is always busy (at dinner at least) and is fun and festive, and the folks have always been nice to us.
I would definitely recommend Green Papaya. You can try the Thai, but definitely get some sushi.