Nigiri and sashimi star center stage in Oscar-worthy fine dining appearances, as well as less thought-provoking work where conveyor belts and all-you-can-eat signs dazzle. You can thank me later for never thinking of sushi in the same light.
The latest starring role for this talented performer – and we’re talking about the food now – is Rusan’s on Belcourt Avenue in Nashville. I love sushi, and my family loves Japanese food, so Rusan’s in Hillsboro Village has long been one of the restaurants on our frequent rotation list.
Previously found in the Gulch, Rusan’s moved locations to provide the much-needed extra seating and space for its ever-growing popularity among food enthusiasts. The new village location is larger and more chic than its predecessor, but the food is essentially the same – some of the tastiest sushi and sashimi in town.
The restaurant has an urban feel and includes a centerpiece of the sushi bar where customers can watch skilled chefs at work in an open kitchen, but the restaurant also is ringed with dining booths, and tables dot the center. If it’s a pretty day, it has plenty of outside seating to enjoy the sunshine.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves up a variety of sushi, sashimi and Japanese standards such as teriyaki, tempura, donburi, bento combinations, katsu, udon and soba. Rusan’s also serves a variety of sake and Japanese beer if you want something other than tea or soft drinks. They use white miso, and the rich, flavorful soup also has cubes of silky tofu. The cucumber salad, marinated in a sweet and tangy vinegar mixture, makes a nice contrast to the soup while you’re waiting for your entree to arrive.
If you’re not up on your sushi speak, maki rolls are the most identifiable of this Japanese food form. Sheets of dried nori (seaweed) are filled with seasoned rice and a variety of ingredients, tightly rolled into a tube of sliced rounds. These days, maki sushi is so ubiquitous, you might spot it everywhere from grocery stores to gas stations.
For starters, we had shrimp tempura. It has large, fresh shrimp, and the tempura batter is wonderfully crisp and comes with a tempura dipping sauce. The sashimi combo varies depending on the fresh seafood available and the choice of the sushi chef. It ranges from 13-16 pieces and is always artfully presented in a beautiful arrangement.
The seafood always tastes fresh, and I enjoy munching on the shredded daikon that most people pass up as a plate decoration. There’s also some pickled ginger served on the plate as a palate cleanser and a small mound of wasabi. On a recent visit, the selection on my plate included octopus, salmon, smoked salmon, tuna, yellow tail and mackerel.
For your busy workday, try the lunch buffet from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., where you can sample more than 15 different sushi and sashimi pieces and a variety of typical Japanese cuisine such as fried rice, beef and broccoli and vegetable tempuras. At only $12, it’s a great way to open up a testing experience if you are a bit hesitant of trying new taste bud teasers.
Service at Rusan’s is quick, to the point and personable.
Kristin Duncan is marketing and promotions manager for Lebanon Publishing Co. and writer of Eat Like a Girl columns that appear each Wednesday in The Democrat.
Service: welcoming and fast-paced.
Ambience: urban flare.
Location: 2119 Belcourt Ave in Nashville.
Hours: Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Reservations: not necessary.
Alcohol: full-service bar, along with select sakes and Japanese beers.