Eat! Lansing

October 8, 2009

Maru Sushi and Grill

Filed under: Best of, Japanese, Okemos, Sushi — Jack Lumanog @ 8:41 am

Maru Sushi & Grill
5100 Marsh Rd., Okemos, MI 48864-1195
(517) 349-7500
Lunch: Monday – Saturday, 11:30a – 2:30p
Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 4:30p – 9:30p and Sunday 4:00p – 9:00p

My wife and I have been meaning to head out to Maru Sushi & Grill for a while now.  We finally made it out there last month when we had a babysitter. Just from outside appearances, Maru doesn’t look all that kid friendly as it looked like mostly couples eating there for dinner. (Not meant as a criticism – more as a helpful tip for those diners with kids.)

As we entered Maru, we were warmly greeted by the hostess and by nearly everyone working behind the sushi bar.  Our server was very attentive and let us know that we had about 5 minutes left before the sushi happy hour was over.  We quickly scanned the specials and ordered a tuna roll and crab roll – both on special at half off. Not a bad deal at all and both wonderfully delicious. (Half off sushi happy hour specials run from 4:30pm – 6:00pm daily, Sun 4:00p-9:00p.  Daily specials are announced via Facebook and Twitter.)

After the initial excitement of taking advantage of a deal wore off, it was on to examine the menu.  We started with the tofu appetizer.  I did not read the description all that carefully and didn’t realize until it came to our table, that the tofu was uncooked.  It was artfully presented in a bowl with ponzu sauce, green onions and some other embellishments.  The flavor was there, but I was not all that thrilled about the cold, slimy texture of the tofu.  My wife, on the other hand, loved it and it was a nice start to the meal for her.

I enjoyed the tuna maguro and salmon sake from the sashimi menu. Absolutely perfect on both counts. My wife went with the Ocean’s Eleven specialty roll which consists of: salmon, cucumber, sprouts, kampyo topped with albacore, and avocado with spicy oyster glazed salad (organic greens, carrots, cucumber, asparagus). My wife is not a fan of spicy food and didn’t realize this was a pretty spicy dish on account of the sriracha chili sauce that was the secret salad dressing. Fine by me, it was more for me to enjoy.

A few folks around us ordered the hibachi grills.  They came out beautifully prepared but at $19 and up for teriyaki chicken, it seems a bit pricy for fried rice, assorted meats and veggies.  The most expensive item in the hibachi offerings is at $26 for steak and shrimp. But, the plates coming to the neighboring tables were just beautiful!

That’s another thing about Maru.  As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you can’t help but be amazed at the attention to detail in this place!  The decor is very sleek, modern with lots of clean lines. I found myself just looking all around the dining room impressed by how beautiuful this place was. 

Finally, Maru is the recent recipient of a liquor license.  They offer a full bar with some delightful wines by the glass.

I highly recommend this place to you for the food offerings and for a beautiful place to relax and take in a nice dinner. If you can make it for sushi happy hour, your wallet will thank you for it as well.

May 1, 2009


Filed under: Best of, Campus, East Lansing, Japanese, Sushi — Jack Lumanog @ 4:31 pm

529 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing MI 48823
(517) 333-0804

On a beautiful spring sunnt day in East Lansing, my wife and daughters and I were looking for a bite to eat for lunch.  We wandered into Sushiya across from the MSU campus between Espresso Royale and Chipotle.  This beautifully appointed restaurant hit the spot for every member of my family!

My daughters basically split two appetizers for their lunch (no children’s menu here).  The panfried beef gyoza dumplings ($4.95) and the agedashi tofu ($4.95) were beautifully prepared and my kids ate up nearly all of it (OK, I got to sneak a bite of each as part of my research for this blog).

My wife ordered the Sushiya special roll ($11.95) and it was an enormous plate of sushi.  It came with a small salad and a cup of miso soup.  It was a special roll that had tempura shrimp, crab, avocado, and a few other things that I can’t recall right at the moment. 

I was feeling like something warm for lunch and ordered the tempura udon ($7.95).  This is an incredible value considering all of the food that you get with this.  To start, I also got a small salad and cup of miso soup as part of my entree.  The soup was just amazingly satisfying.  The large bowl had a perfectly seasoned broth, enormous udon noodles, tofu, and tempura shrimp.  And, it was served with a side platter of tempura fried goodies: tempura squash, asparagus, zucchini, sweet potato, onion ring and shrimp.  As if that wasn’t enough, my soup also included 4 pieces of California roll on the side! Whew! At nearly $8, this is the biggest deal of the menu and all of it was just delicious.

Sushiya exceeded all expectations with food, decor and service.  I’ll definitely be back to this great campus gem!

October 13, 2008

Omi Sushi

Filed under: Best of, East Lansing, Japanese, Sushi — Jack Lumanog @ 2:39 pm

Omi Sushi
210 M.A.C. Ave., East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 337-2222
Mon.-Sat.: 11:30 am 9:30 pm (closed 2:30-5:30 pm); Closed Sunday

Omi is a cool, sleek (albeit cramped) place if you don’t mind waiting and have the patience for outstanding sushi.  It’s rare that I have been able to go right to a table.  I usually wait 15-20 minutes for a space to open up.  From there, it could be more waiting depending on the attentiveness of your server.

The sushi is wonderfully fresh (my favorite is the maguro, or tuna) and the selection of rolls for the sushi squeamish is more than complete with lots of delicious cooked options to choose from.  It’s always worth it, but at $1.95 per maguro piece, it adds up in a hurry (I could eat Omi’s maguro all day!).  The tables are a bit squished together so as to accomodate as many diners as possible.  Getting up every so often if one in your party needs to visit the restroom can be tricky so as not to bump the table next to yours.  We typically eat out with our 2 daughters and considering the tight squeeze in the restaurant, I would not consider Omi to be particularly kid friendly (not a criticism – it’s just the way it is!).

Omi also has a nice small selection of beer, wine and sake to go along with the meal.  A great thing to see is that all of the items on the beer, wine and sake menu are decently priced.

There are other items on the menu but I’ve never bothered to order them because the sushi is just outstanding.  I highly recommend this place  —  but be patient and be prepared to wait a bit.  It’s worth it!

Derek’s Take:

Omi is one of my favorites.  The location is great, walkable from many points around campus.  The atmosphere is modern and feels like it might come straight from a hip neighborhood in Tokyo.  I’ve never had to wait for a table, but I usually go on weekdays at around 5-6.  

I wouldn’t rank the sushi as highly as Sansu.  The specialty roles tend to be extremely salty (even without soy) and the fish isn’t quite as fresh.  However, the prices are far better at Omi.

Service is businesslike, but efficient.  There’s nothing better than a jar of warm sake on a cool, gray Michigan day.  My only complaint about the menu is the seeming lack of nigiri items.  Most of the a la carte items are maki or sashimi.  Sometimes the wasabi can be very fresh but at other times extremely old and dry.  It’s a mixed bag, but overall a cozy, casual place with good sushi.

August 25, 2008

AI Fusion

Filed under: East Lansing, Japanese, Korean — Jack Lumanog @ 3:30 pm

AI Fusion
2827 East Grand River East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 853-3700
Mon.-Thurs.: 11:30am – 10:00pm; Fri.: 11:30am – 11:00pm; Sat.: Noon – 11:00pm; Sun.: Noon – 10:00pm

First, the restaurant is called “AI” and not “A1” (like the steak sauce). It’s hard to tell from first glance at their signage.  And, it’s a beautiful restaurant on the inside.  There is a lot of intricate wood work throughout the place even with this impressive lattice work that hangs above the dining area with some tatami rooms off to the side.  There’s an impressive fish pond right off the bar area as well. 

Sadly, the decor is where the impressive part of AI ends.  If you are looking for fair, overpriced non-descript Asian food, AI is your place.  If you had higher hopes judging from the interior and the menu prices, then you’ll end up leaving disappointed and a bit gouged in the wallet as I did.

As soon as you walk inside, you are greeted with shouts of “Irashaimase!” (basically, “welcome”) from the sushi bar chefs.  Cute in a strange sort of way.  For some reason, Asian restaurants that still do this remind me of the mechanized Asian display of “It’s a Small World” from Disneyland.

Dinner for two adults and one child set us back nearly $60, tip included.  How did we get there?  We ordered one shrimp tempura appetizer ($7 for 4 shrimp tempura pieces, an onion ring and sweet potato) for my 4-year-old daughter and that served as her entree as there isn’t a children’s menu.  My wife’s first choice (Oishii Chicken) was no longer available on the menu along with a few other things pointed out by our waitress…not a good sign.  She ended up with a Teppanyaki (iron hot plate) of filet mignon and chicken for $18.  I ordered the Bulgogi for $16.  Not the best Bulgogi I’ve ever had but it hit the spot for a Sunday night dinner.  At first, I was overwhelmed with how large the portion size was.  But, as I started to pick at my pile of beef, I realized it was propped up but a lot of frozen broccoli pieces and some shredded cabbage.  Both of our entrees came with miso soup, salad in a very sweet citrusy dressing with way too much orange rind on top and our choice of steamed rice or fried rice.

I also ordered a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with dinner at $6 which was probably the best deal of the night considering that I got a healthy pour with my meal.

I’m still scratching my head at the whole AI Fusion experience.  It’s an odd mix of Japanese and Korean menu items along with a full sushi bar that is so overpriced and overrun with “specialties” featuring lots of cream cheese, imitation crab meat and lobster, even.  I was underwhelmed on just about all fronts:  taste, value and service … except for the magnificent decor.  The decor will impress every time if nothing else in the restaurant delivers.

February 26, 2008


Filed under: Best of, Campus, East Lansing, Japanese, Sushi — erithmetic @ 9:32 pm

Hannah Plaza, 4750 S. Hagadorn Rd, Ste 10, East Lansing, MI 48823

Hours: M-Sat 11:30-2:30 & 4:30-10:00, Sun 3-10

Sansu is movin’ on up, but is staying on the East Side.  The last time I had been there, the restaurant was crammed into a corner of a strip of mall in Hannah Plaza and featured budget seating and decor.  While the atmosphere was bland, the food was good.

But oh, how times have changed!  The new Sansu, located next to the old, has gone upscale and competes among the higher-end restaurants in the area.  This is a great place for a date or a business meal.  A “traditional modern Japanese” look is achieved, complete with a dining area that  mimics a traditional Japanese eating style of sitting on the floor at a short table.  Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to kill your knees sitting cross-legged.  Instead, the wait staff will sacrifice their legs for you by stepping in and out of the pit “dug into” the floor that allow your legs to dangle at rest.  It’s a fun, unique experience for the diner.

Looking at the a la carte menu, it was difficult to judge quantities.  When in doubt, ask, or you’ll be eating two meals worth of sushi.  The combination sushi/sashimi platter was a great sampling of Sansu’s standard offerings.  While not the freshest sushi you’ll get, it is definitely top-notch and probably the best you’ll find in the area.  I didn’t opt for the flashy dishes served in volcano bowls, but they looked intriguing.  Be sure to specify hot sake if you like it that way.  There is a good selection of the drink.

The staff were all very friendly and I can see Sansu becoming a cornerstone of Lansing eateries.

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