It hasn’t been a year since I wrote about Tiger Sushi II, and ordinarily, that shorter time frame would preclude the restaurant from further scrutiny within the same publication. However, my editor and I decided to make an exception, and I’ll explain why. Tiger Sushi II features such an extensive, creative sushi selection that I would encourage lovers of virgin seafood to pillage the menu with reckless abandon. However, at least one dear and sheltered soul among our friends always shies at the mention of raw fish. Those unrepentant food atheists, along with any strict vegetarians, would be left at many sushi restaurants with a skinny California Roll or a plate of limp tempura.
Owner Lisa Edevold Mann knew such limitations would not serve her Lyn-Lake neighborhood, so she filled out the menu since our last review. The result is almost worthy of a new designation as “Tiger Sushi III,” and definitely a second column.
Beginning with the Crazy Shrimp appetizer ($6.95), our entire meal catered to a much broader clientele. Fat, happy shrimp are sautéed in a rich, sweet garlic sauce, then tossed with carrots, red onions, and scallions, and served over sliced oranges. The dish originally was available only off-menu as an employee meal, but became so popular that the staff begged for it to be listed for paying customers as well. It’s paired with a clean, balanced Spanish Albarino ($8/$30) to draw out the sauce’s spice.
Next, Edevold Mann proudly presented two hearty, vegetarian-friendly sushi rolls, each of which paired surprisingly well with light and fruity Bouchard Pinot Noir ($7/$26). Bam Bam Roll ($9.95) is a feast for the senses, with a center of crunchy tempura veggies—sweet potatoes, asparagus, basil leaves, and jalapeños—surrounded by avocado and rice, and topped prettily with minced inari. The roll rests on a fragrant sauce of pureed pineapple, but it is especially excellent when dipped in soy. It is substantial enough to make a small meal if, and only if, you’re able to resist the other temptations on the menu.
One particularly tantalizing roll is the decadent Darkened Edamame ($18.95)—which can be made completely vegetarian while retaining its charms. It features shrimp tempura, crab, cucumber, avocado, and gobo, kicked up with spicy garlic mayo and a drizzle of chili oil, and topped with super white tuna and garlicky edamame. Edevold Mann told me it ultimately may be nicknamed the “Better than Sex Roll,” and after tasting it, I understand completely.
For those who want more of an entrée, JR’s Black Miso Cod ($13.95) more than suffices. Marinated a day-and-a-half in creamy miso sauce, ginger, garlic, and lime, it is cooked to flaky perfection, and served over fresh greens.
In the wintertime, however, Minnesotans probably will shift their eyes to the Udon menu. Beef Udon ($12.95) is simple comfort food made from scratch, and that dish no doubt will be what I send my friends to fetch the next time I get the sniffles.
Tiger Sushi II now has a drive-up/takeout menu for dedicated patrons who need good food fast. Simply call, place your order, and describe your vehicle. When you pull up to the “Tiger Takeout Zone,” someone will run out to your car.
A fuller, restaurant-wide happy-hour menu is a welcome development for the Uptown crowd. As well, late-night Thursdays offer an exclusive treat: the aptly named “Tini” Martini ($1), with a different flavor every week. Ours happened to be Pomegranate Empress, which went down like candy.
I would do a disservice to Tiger Sushi II if I did not recap one point from my previous column: If you have faith in your chef, and already have tried many Tiger Sushi II specialties, just ask Chef JR Malibirin to make you something new and fabulous. This veritable “food psychic” always seems to get it right. On my most recent visit, the kitchen surprised me with an off-menu, impromptu Hokkaido scallop dish topped with crab, drizzled with a Japanese mayo/sour cream sauce, and served on a bed of ginger asparagus, all courtesy of Malibirin. Our dessert that evening was also extemporaneous, with cheerful fried bananas and a rich mango sauce. With both entrée and dessert, my dining partner and I sipped Watari Bune Sake ($17/$71), a rare treat—the delicate rice it is made from barely was saved from extinction after the war.
Let’s hope my readers now will excuse my return trip. If I go back again in four months, only to write “Tiger Sushi II, III…,” you shall have every right to be indignant. Of course, if you’ve eaten there, you already understand the compulsion.
Photos by Mike Hnida
Tiger Sushi II
2841 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.