Gaijin Sushi: non-traditional, creative sushi in Oklahoma City [closed]
PLEASE NOTE: Gaijin Sushi is no longer in business.
It wasn’t long ago that I noticed Gaijin Sushi’s bright awnings going up on a storefront at the Park Harvey building downtown. Naturally, this caught my attention every time I visited the downtown library. I was very excited to see this new eatery opening in the downtown space. As soon as it was open, I wanted to try it, but since I am personally a bit of a sushi novice, I invited Andrew and Greg along to provide their more experienced sushi insights. This article includes thoughts from all three of us.
We are all unanimously in favor of the atmosphere and the location. We got to sit right by the window, looking out at all the people shuffling around downtown at lunch time. The corner storefront space offers a great view. The interior decor is very hip yet soothing. Nothing wild or harsh but just great lighting, good colors and modern accents. Congrats to the owners for creating a brilliant, urban experience that truly adds to the downtown landscape.
Another unanimous winner was the crab cake appetizer we shared. Andrew claims that “they were possibly the best crab cakes I’ve had in OKC. The crab mousse really gave them a light and fluffy texture.” Greg adds, “The presentation was beautiful, and I was especially enamored with the stripes of sauces on the plates, which provided a delicious flourish on the already tasty dish.” I have to agree. They were very good and quite possibly worth the trip just by themselves.
Now, onto the sushi. Even though I am a sushi novice, I was able to pick up on the fact that this isn’t a very “traditional” sushi place. I think the name Gaijin (which, from what I can tell, is a slightly derogatory Japanese term meaning “outsider” or “non-Japanese person”) is an odd choice, but it did seem fairly appropriate as we noted that the people around us, including those who were preparing the dishes, were predominantly non-Asians. It seems that Gaijin aims to provide a more “American” spin on sushi or at least a non-traditional spin. This results in the creation of some very unusual rolls.
The rolls are very special, indeed. The Devil’s Advocate is the top-seller according to general manager, Cristian Clay, and it’s easy to see why. At $9.50 for 8 pieces, it packs a good punch with salmon, cucumber, avocado, masago, cream cheese, spicy pistachios and a spicy aioli drizzled on top. Also interesting was the upscale Geisha roll at $12.95 with lobster salad, avocado and cucumber inside and lobster claw, caviar and miso on top. Both of these were very complex rolls and like nothing we’d tasted before.
We were all less impressed with the Spider roll ($8.75) which was a bit fishy. It did have bits of kaiware, which is a radish sprout, to give it some spice. Usually, kaiware is more of a garnish so we thought putting it in the sushi was a cool use of the ingredient.
The favorite roll for all of us was the Rock and Roll ($8.25). At Gaijin, the rock and roll is an eel roll. The eel is laid across the top with a sweet sauce and toasted sesame seeds while cucumber and avocado are wrapped up inside. This was really tasty and we highly recommend it.
We also sampled some Nigiri sushi — rice balls topped with fresh fish — and we found them less appealing than the rolls. As Greg puts it, “I don’t know if the Nigiri lacked flavor or if the rolls were just so full of flavor that the fish paled in comparison. Regardless, I’d opt for the rolls.” I have to agree and I think that’s par for the course at this non-traditional sushi place. Their creativity and presentation serves them well. When you come here, look to try those unique items that really set them apart.
The pricing at Gaijin is on the higher end of Oklahoma City’s sushi offerings, though perhaps not quite as high as Sushi Neko or Kang’s. Given the location, the atmosphere and the experience, we all felt the prices were reasonable and as expected.
Overall, our experience was really positive and both Greg and Andrew claim they will be going back. Andrew says, “I’m particularly excited about the coming lunch additions such as duck breast. Can’t wait to try those. I also look forward to taking my wife there, without kids, and gorging on those delicious crab cakes.”
Greg adds, “I will likely go back for a Rock and Roll and maybe a chance to try their Veggie or Gringo rolls. But I would also like the chance to try the full flight of sake that Cristian recommended. I did have a few sips of the fruity Gekkeikan plum sake and sweet, milky Momokawa pearl sake.”
Will I go back, you ask? I would love to, but I’d have to find the right occasion and really do some convincing to my wife, who is not a sushi lover at all. Perhaps I can coax her with some crab cakes.
Gaijin Sushi is new to downtown, so give them a try if you’re in the area, and let us know what you think in the comments. Also, if you’ve been to the Norman location, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well.