Friday, May 7, 2010

Saji Ya

Visited on Saturday, May 1st with Kate and Kyle

Outside Saji Ya

Erin's Review
We take up anyone (without a criminal record at least) on babysitting offers, so when Ben's mom asked to babysit Annie we immediately set up a date before she could change her mind :) I haven't had much sushi since Annie was born, so I scoured the list to see what options were still available to us - sadly, not too many, so if there is a sushi place that isn't on our list that we should try - leave a comment! Saji Ya was the closest to our house, so we decided to go there with Kate and Kyle.

inside Saji Ya

We got there around 7pm, and it was pretty full, which I would expect for a Saturday night, but there really weren't many people waiting. We all sat at the bar while waiting for our table - Ben goes into the experience of getting drinks below, so I would repeat it :) It does seem kind of dumb to have one bartender serving the entire restaurant, which is fairly large, but whatever. I liked my cherry blossom martini a lot - it certainly wasn't a "real" martini - but if you recall from our Moscow on the Hill review, I prefer my drinks fruity and weak anyway :)

Cherry Blossom

Once we got our table, which was right by the sushi bar, we examined the menu - I picked a few rolls, Kate and Kyle picked a few rolls, and we each ordered an appetizer. Kyle ordered potstickers and I chose croquettes - I was STARVING and needed something starchy/carby in my belly stat. They came out pretty quickly and we scarfed them down. I honestly don't even remember if they were that good because I ate my portion so quickly!


After the sushi came out (which took kind of awhile - the waitress kept saying it would be "right out" - annoying), we all dug in quickly - my favorite roll was probably the twisted roll, mainly because of the cream cheese :) I also always am a fan of caterpillar rolls, which didn't disappoint this time either. I hated the super spicy roll, which we never figured out if it was the dynamite or spicy tuna - I think it was dynamite though. It was just too much for me to handle, but everyone else seemed fine with it, of course.


I decided to order a beer, which inspired this twit from Ben... obviously, the beer was delicious :) I was still hungry even after all that sushi, so I had to have the creme brulee cheesecake for dessert - yum!! No one else ordered dessert, but everyone seemed fine to pick off mine :)

Creme Brulee Cheesecake

Saji Ya was a pretty typical sushi restaurant - nothing really wowed me, but I'd certainly go back especially for their happy hour deals.

Ben's Review
My mom wanted to babysit Annie since she hadn't seen her in awhile so we took the opportunity to get sushi with Kate and Kyle at Saji Ya on Grand Ave. It would seem that our "going out" schedule now consists of waiting for a relative to offer to babysit Annie and then jumping on the chance :)

We parked on Summit Ave as parking on Grand on a Saturday night is annoying as hell and you end up six blocks from where you want to be anyways. Parking on Summit was actually Erin's suggestion and there were plenty of spots available and we only had to walk one block over to Grand. We saw Kate and Kyle parking as we walked into Saji Ya so we started the process of getting a table. The host told us it would be 30-40 minutes, even though there was nobody else on the "list", but we shrugged and decided to wait it out at the bar. Erin and I sat at the bar and got ignored for a couple minutes, until the bartender told us he would be right with us. A couple minutes later he was actually ready to take the girls' orders, but not Kyle and I. He brought their drinks and THEN was ready to take our order. It was a very convoluted bar experience and right as the guys' drinks came the host came over and told us that our table was ready. Total wait time: MAYBE fifteen minutes. Whatever. We were told to close out our tab at the bar and go to the table (can't transfer the tab?). So Kyle and I waited a couple more minutes to get our tabs and pay them to finally make it to the table.

inside Saji Ya


We were seated towards the back of the restaurant; there is a divider between the "normal" tables and the booth-like tables that are set lower into the floor. At this point I simply closed my menu and enjoyed my drink and the company, I didn't care what was ordered as long as there was enough sushi for everyone to get their fill so I let Erin, Kate, and Kyle work out the details.


We got pot stickers and potato croquettes as an appetizer and they were both delicious, helped by the fact that it was 7:30 and I was starving. I think we ended up getting five orders of rolls: caterpillar (2), spicy tuna, dynamite, and philly. [note from Erin: Nope - Ben just thinks any roll with cream cheese is a philly roll :)] All were excellent. I'm not too picky when it comes to sushi and I can't really tell the quality differences between places that we go to, but Saji Ya didn't disappoint, and I went home full. One roll in particular was spicier than I expected (dynamite I think) and that was really good, I'd specifically order that again next time we go out.

Other than the annoying bar experience (to be fair there was only one bartender, but it wasn't THAT busy) the whole experience was a lot of fun and I would go back to sit at the sushi bar, it looked interesting and we've never actually sat at the bar before.
  • Service: Service was just OK. Everyone was competent, but nothing to set them apart.
  • Food: Excellent food all around, including the creme brulee cheesecake.
  • Drinks: They have a full bar, but a small beer list (Summit at least), which is typical of sushi places, I've found. Bartender said they have cocktail onions, but must have forgot to put some in my martini.
  • Ambiance: The ambiance was kind of blah, actually. Aside from the teppanyaki in the upstairs there wasn't much energy to the place, but I didn't even think of that until I sat to write this review.
  • Price: Pretty normal prices for a sushi place, no complaints. Martini was $7.50, which is great.
  • Convenience: I would recommend Summit Ave for parking, unless you can find a spot in their lot. On a Saturday night that wasn't going to happen.
Saji Ya
695 Grand Ave
St. Paul