Wild Ginger: Fresh sushi, good wine 

click to enlarge Nigiri sushi at Wild Ginger on 116th. - MARK LEE
  • Nigiri sushi at Wild Ginger on 116th.
  • Mark Lee

For some years now, Indianapolis has been fortunate enough to be home to an impressive number of sushi and pan-Asian restaurants of varying degrees of quality. Foremost amongst these has been Wasabi on 82nd, and, upon moving back to town a few months ago, we were delighted to find that the owners of Wasabi had opened a new establishment on 116th Street in Fishers. It’s great to see such a talented restaurateur establishing an outpost in an area that could use a place with more challenging menu items.

From a generous sampling of dishes consumed during a recent visit to Wild Ginger, my wife and I enjoyed very fairly priced nigiri sushi, fashioned from striped bass, sea urchin, surf clam and unagi (eel), all of which were admirably fresh and elegantly proportioned. Like the best sushi preparations, the ratio of fish to impeccably sticky rice was spot-on. Prices ranged from $5.50 - $8.95 for two pieces.

Also stellar were two maki rolls accompanied by some of the best Ponzu sauce I’ve tasted for a while. These were the Mistake Roll ($7), a spicy tuna roll deep fried in tempura batter, and the Flaming Shrimp Roll ($12), a wonderful creation consisting of shrimp tempura and cream cheese wrapped in rice, seaweed and a spicy crab salad, with the whole thing rolled in foil and set on fire. This reminded us of some of the masterful torched maki dishes at Oishii in Boston (only a lot more affordable).

Similar to its sister restaurant, Wasabi, Wild Ginger's wine cellar is well thought out, extensive and reasonably priced. With a dozen or so outstanding sakes, and a wide selection of top notch California reds and whites, including the hard-to-find PlumpJack Cabernet, this list is something of an oenophile’s dream.

As far as sushi in the Midwest is concerned, I think it’s time to set the record straight: I’m pretty tired of reading blogs and comments by self-styled sushi experts who insist that it is impossible to find good, fresh fish and/or sushi in cities such as Indianapolis because of our distance from the ocean. The simple fact is that, for quite some time now, fleets of big, silvery, aluminum objects with wings on them have been rushing fresh fish from all over the world to markets all across this country.

Think about this: We are closer here to Atlantic Bluefin tuna than are the inhabitants of Los Angeles or San Francisco. Equally, we are closer to Santa Barbara than the inhabitants of New York. Over the past decade or so, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy outstanding sushi in this city, frequently better than higher priced and swankier offerings on either coast. We should count ourselves lucky.

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