It stands to reason that what is conceivably one of Albuquerque’s best sushi restaurants is named for the Shogun, the title accorded the supreme ruler of Japan for about eight centuries.
What most people may not realize, however, is that sushi originated in China as a method to preserve fish by pickling and fermentation. Sushi, as we know it today, began to take form in the 18th century Japan when seafood vendors wrapped fish with seaweed and rice as an edible and decorative package which ultimately evolved into the roll (maki) style. The nigiri style, consisting of a piece of fish on a bed of rice, originated in Tokyo sometime later. Sushi’s integration into the American culture began in the 1970s and today there are over 5,000 sushi restaurants in the United States.
In my 48 years on planet Earth, I’ve sampled probably 30 to 40 different sushi restaurants and won’t pretend to be an expert, but can say unequivocally that Albuquerque’s Shogun is among the very best I’ve ever had and may be in a class by itself in Albuquerque. The wasabi colored walls are the first indication that this restaurant is something special. Then there’s the sushi bar, an oval island encircled by floating boats that convey sushi treats to you. Ask to be seated in close proximity to the sushi chefs so you can watch their deft hands craft various sushi treats which are then launched on their floating platforms. Next prepare for a parade of freshly-made sushi floating right before your eyes.
You can pick and chose from the sushi line-up and at the end of your meal, your fare is based on the number of plates at your table. You can also opt to have your sushi meal custom-made for you from a menu that includes a wide variety of nigiri and maki style sushi as well as sashimi and vegetarian rolls. You’ll be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from among the delicately crafted gems that are not only palate pleasing, but which provide a feast for the eyes–truly edible art.
The rainbow roll is one such gem, living up to its name with an ultra-violet spectrum of different ingredients inside and out. It’s also drizzled lightly with just the right amount of Teriyaki sauce for a sweet and savory taste contrast. If you’re a New Mexico native, you’ve got to order the green chile roll in which the chile tastes as if freshly roasted on a traditional comal. With a little wasabi and soy sauce, it sizzles on your tongue. The calamari roll and shrimp tempura roll are served with warm calamari and shrimp respectively. Both of these rolls provide a crunchy sensation that seems to heighten the sushi’s texture. A spicy tuna hand roll lives up to its name with a flavorful piquant goodness. Shogun lives up to its name and reputation, too.
Shogun Japanese Restaurant
3310 Central, S.E.
LATEST VISIT: 15 October 2008
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Shrimp Tempura Roll, Spicy Tuna Hand Roll, Rainbow Roll, Green Chile Roll