Dallas is supposedly one of the best places to get sushi in the US, mainly because air cargo flights carrying freshly-caught and auctioned sushi-grade fish from Japan land at DFW Airport, before the cargo is split up and ferried to other cities around the country. By some estimates, sushi in Dallas is 1-3 days more fresh than anywhere else in the country. Especially in warm to hot months (about 9 out of 12) we love to have ceviche or sushi of some sort at least once per week. We've longed to have a good sushi option closer to our neighborhood, so obviously we were thrilled that the former Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs location in the Lakewood Shopping Center on Gaston Ave. was transformed into Sa Sa Sushi - a much better choice. As we normally do, we waited a couple of weeks to visit after they officially opened. Even though we walked in at 10:30 when they were closing at 11:00, we were happily welcomed by the entire staff. Being told "welcome" 6-7 times in a 1 minute span may be a bit corny, but it's actually a nice touch in our cold working world.
We love what the owners have done with what was previously a pretty drab and yellow/orange walled space. What was dreary and generic before has been transformed into a cool, dark, hip space with clean lines, stone touches, great light fixtures, and a wonderfully-long sushi bar. We loved the menu as well.
The first thing we noticed was their impressive Japanese beer and sake selection. Many beers are actually served in the large-format bottles, which is a nice and different touch. Sa Sa even offered a few Japanese whiskeys, which is a bit out-of-the-ordinary, and certainly welcome. The food menu isn't overly long or complicated (like some sushi establishments in Dallas with 20+ pages of options), but still provides enough variety to give patrons options like poke, ramen, rice bowls, fried rice, etc. We weren't overly hungry when we went, and really wanted to see what Sa Sa was all about, so we ordered our staple sushi rolls when trying a new place: the Spicy Tuna (actually called the In and Out Tuna here) and the Rainbow Roll.
Now, before you judge us for going with such classic and simple options on the roll front, let us explain: we often go for "simple" on a first visit, as a test, and like these rolls because they show glaring technical errors, and let you try multiple different fish offered by the restaurant in one sitting. Basically, our thinking is that if the restaurant screws these rolls up, there's no way anything else would be worth trying. Also, if the restaurant can find a way to elevate both in a way that sets theirs apart from the rest, chances are other options on the menu will be good. Thankfully, Sa Sa falls into the latter category--they provided a quality product, as well as nice flourishes that made for a great eating experience.
The sushi rice used was the perfect consistency - just sticky enough to hold the pieces together without feeling like you're swallowing a rice ball. The caviar used was very fresh and provided just the right amount of salty pop. We loved the sauces provided with the In and Out Tuna - a great blend of spicy and sweet that mixed well with the super-thin jalapeno slice. The fish tasted like it had just been caught (regardless of type), and the portions of fish included on top of both the Tuna and the Rainbow Roll were generous. And, it was nice to have extra tuna added to the top of the In and Out Tuna roll. Made for a great, slightly "meatier" experience than you traditionally get with a bland spicy tuna roll.
While you may pay a bit more for sushi or sashimi at Sa Sa than you would at some other small Dallas sushi establishments, it's well worth it for the quality. Overall, we loved our experience and will definitely be returning for (hopefully) many dinners to come. We'll even venture over to some of the more interesting options, like the Pink Lady Roll.