With the closure of Three Fish in December, Calhoun Commons’ sunny corner spot has stood empty — that is, until last week. Newly introduced is Wakame, a sushi bar and Asian bistro that, according to the website, “feature[s] both traditional and modern Asian cuisine, especially Japanese.”
As the website states, the menu plays up many Asian favorites and flavors. Curries are listed alongside noodle dishes and stir-fries, most served with your choice of protein, ranging from $10 to $14. Other sea and land entrees, like sea bass with miso, apple teriyaki salmon, whole red snapper, and several steaks, are features on the menu and range from $15 to $27. Of course, there is sushi, the extensive menu listing sashimi, sushi, and signature rolls with creative names like the Minnesota Roll, Excelsior Boulevard Roll, Las Vegas Roll, and Hot & Spicy Girl Roll, to name a few.
Wakame features early and late happy hours on appetizers and sushi, but the best meal deals are to be had at lunch when Wakame runs specials on bento boxes ($9 to $11), sushi ($11 for 1 California roll and 5 pieces), sashimi ($14 for 12 pieces), and rolls (2 for $10 or 3 for $13).
For our first taste of Wakame, we visited at lunch and sampled several options. First was the seaweed salad, a light and well-seasoned starter dressed with a toasted sesame vinaigrette. Amongst the many signature rolls, we decided on the Sweetheart Roll — salmon, tuna, and tempura flakes on the inside, fresh tuna on the outside, and drizzled with wasabi mayo. While the roll was a fun blend of flavors and textures, it did not stand out overall as fresh.
A lunch special, a bento box with shrimp tempura, was served with a side salad and miso soup. While the tempura was well-cooked and perfectly crispy, overall the bento box was bland, especially with the apparent lack of any seasoning on the shrimp and in the soup. And while the Ginger Mushroom stir-fry with tofu could have been a favorite dish with its fresh ginger and crisp vegetables, the heavy sauce weighed it down.
Not even a week into service, Wakame still has time to work out some of its new-restaurant kinks. If executed well, the well-rounded and interesting menu could be a promising addition to the Calhoun Commons neighborhood, the main focus of which centers around the usual fast-service suspects of pizza, burgers, and burritos.
Asian in Uptown
3070 Excelsior Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55416
BAR: full bar
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $10-27