I took a break from eating local the other day because I needed sushi. I needed sushi and was in a hurry. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of taking part in a Japanese tea ceremony outside of Akai Hana, and was reminded of how tasty the carryout options looked next door at Tensuke (formerly Seafood Japan), and decided to head over and give it a shot. I was well rewarded, and I would recommend anyone who lives on the Northwest side to make it a habit of picking up their lunch from Tensuke's vast selection of sushi, sashimi and bentos.
First of all, you know that book Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat? You want to know to know why? It's because onigiri (large rice ball) is one of the national snacks. According to Japanese Kitchen, onigiri are available at every convenience store. If we had these in the vending machine when I was working at my horrid desk job, I probably wouldn't have gotten a Buddha belly, either. Onigiri are large rice balls (although yes, this one is triangular). Seasoned sushi rice is formed around a small filling of tuna, shrimp tempura, or, in this case, ume (pickled plum). The rice ball is then wrapped in nori (toasted seaweed sheet) and eaten with the fingers. Tensuke's onigiri are packaged with the nori wrapped in cellophane and then wrapped around the rice ball; when you are ready to eat it, you removed the nori from the wrapper and wrap it yourself. These are the perfect thing to throw in a bag and take to work for a light lunch, and they are a steal at $1.50.
I tried two rolled sushi selections, both cooked - next time I'll try some of the raw selections, I was going to be in the car running errands and didn't want to risk it. First up, shrimp tempura rolls, which had an entirely different name that I promised myself I would remember but, predictably, have forgotten. It was a combo (pictured at the top of the post), with half being shrimp tempura topped with spicy mayo, and half shrimp tempura wrapped with flying fish roe, which was my favorite. I also tried the eel, avocado and cucumber roll, which was also good. Each box was around $4.50.
Tensuke has a large selection of bentos , the traditional Japanese train box lunch. In Japan, every region has their own variety of bento. Here, there were salmon, pork cutlet, tempura, tofu, and then a few "Japan tradition" boxes. I chose teriyaki salmon, which was terrific even cold. The rice was perfectly seasoned and the salmon was perfectly cooked; the skin somehow had maintained its crispness which is nice. The salmon was placed on a bed of mung bean sprouts and had other healthy accompaniments such as edamame (green soy beans) and pickled veggies. Most bentos were $5.50, although the larger Japan Tradition box was $6.50. Still a healthy alternative to paying the same or more at a fast food restaurant.
Although they offer a large selection of prepackaged Japanese desserts, I opted for the sweetened omelet, tomago, the strangest cold egg product I have recently become addicted to. I say this not because the omelet is strange, but when I think of omelets, I usually think of something hot and filled with cheese.
The sushi operation at Tensuke is quite large, and they are constantly replenishing throughout the day. They do such a brisk business I would never worry about freshness. They even have a large selection of brown rice sushi for those who are super health-conscious. In addition to sushi, they have a beautiful selection of packaged sashimi-quality fish, including blue fin tuna so beautiful there's no way you'd think of cooking it. They even have otoro (the highly-prized fatty tuna), now that it's coming into season. You can purchased mixed sashimi to go, or any number of larger sashimi-grade fish, uncut and packaged simply with a packet of soy sauce on the side. Cold drinks are also available for those on the go. This lunch, which consisted of 3 onigiri, the 2 sushi rolls, tomago and bento, cost $21, which was enough to feed Husband and I for lunch, and then a snack for me later and 2 snacks for Husband later.
In addition to their carryout business, Tensuke offers a complete line of Japanese groceries and frozen goods, as well as what is probably the largest sake selection in town. The owners, who also own Akai Hana and Hana gifts, are working on a new restaurant next to Tensuke, which will be a fish restaurant, called Tenkai.
Info: 1167 Old Henderson Road, Columbus (in the Kenny Shopping Center) 614.451.6002