When you’re not a sushi lover, but you are married to one – it can be tricky to find just the right place to enjoy a meal out that satisfied both of your cravings. My husband loves sushi. He could eat it every day (or so he claims). I’ve tried it, I’ve tasted pieces of rolls that he’s ordered, raw, tempura battered, made with crab, shrimp, heck, even dessert sushi (yes, I know that doesn’t really count) but to be honest, it’s just not my thing. I can certainly appreciate the skill, quality fish and beauty of sushi dishes, but the taste is just not for me.
I really enjoy teppanyaki dishes, however, sometimes I’m really hungry, and I want to eat as quickly as possible upon arriving at a restaurant – and, truth be told, a teppanyaki dinner can add up to a significant dining tab pretty quickly (especially if I get the filet, like I usually want to!).
This past weekend, I had a major craving for comfort food (in my world, that pretty much always equals CARBS! All the CARBS!) – Japanese-style fried rice with bacon to be specific, and I knew if I could pick a great place that had both sushi and fried rice, it wouldn’t be hard to convince my husband to go out for a bite together. My suspicions were correct, and we decided to go to KuniSama on the Southwest corner of Willow and Herndon (right on the dividing line between Fresno and Clovis).
Man, was that a great choice! Upon arriving, we were greeted by two calm, friendly and warm hostesses who asked if we were interested in teppan or main dining, and when we said main dining, we were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. Not too bad for a weekend night. We waited about 12 minutes for a table, and our server greeted us within two minutes. As much as I wanted carb-y rice, I also wanted something fresh tasting to drink, and the Pineapple Express cocktail sounded (and was) delicious. Made with pineapple juice, pineapple rum, club soda and fresh lemon, it was sweet but not overly so, and served with a cherry and orange slice. My husband had a Moscow Mule, his new favorite, and he said it was also made well (strong, as he’d prefer).
We’d eaten at KuniSama twice before, but both times on the teppan side of the restaurant. Both times, the food was very good, but it was in the early days of the restaurant, and service was a bit on the slow side. It definitely seemed like a well-oiled machine on this recent visit, as we observed the chefs while we waited for our table – things seemed to be moving along just fine now, so I believe our previous experiences were related more to the newness of the restaurant than anything else.
The dinner menu included a mix of dishes that I would think of as traditional Japanese fare, along with a number of New American choices. Spam Musubi and Edamame were listed, but so were Won Ton Nachos. You could order tacos, dinner salads or sandwiches, but you could also choose a dish from the Donburi (rice bowl) list or create your own noodle bowl. Crispy-fried rice tacos are a unique option (that I wish I’d tried – and will make a point to next time!) and vegetarian entrees are available, too.
The sushi menu was so extensive, my husband had a tough time deciding what to order, but ultimately went with the Sushi and Sashimi Lover’s plate. When it arrived, it was extremely fresh looking, the fish was cut generously, and everything was plated very nicely.
I ultimately decided to throw health-consciousness fully to the wind for the evening, and ordered a combination of appetizers and of course, a side of fried rice as my meal. I tried the Panko Chicken, which was very crispy, and I liked the spicy-sweet glaze that it was served with, and I also ordered vegetable tempura, which was perfectly crisp, not soggy, and not over-breaded. The fried rice was exactly what I was hoping it would be – delicious, savory and perfectly carb-y and bacon-y. Yup, those are words. A side of spicy dressing to dip my chopsticks into before each bite of rice made the meal absolutely perfect.
We had a chance to speak to Craig Kunishige, co-founder (the Kuni in KuniSama) during our meal, and he shared that business has been steady, especially on the weekends, and that though they have a good lunch crowd, they are still able to get people in and out in timely manner, so if you’d like to go on a lunch break – you’ll be able to enjoy your meal. KuniSama’s prices are reasonable to competitive for the selection offered, but even more so at lunch, in my opinion (note to self: take coworkers and go there for lunch very soon).
If you haven’t tried KuniSama, or it’s been awhile since you have – I encourage you to go soon, everything we ate was delicious, and the service was great! (Plus, even if one person in your family loves sushi, and others don’t, everyone will leave happy.)
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