I'm doing a lot more business with a company out in Indianapolis - Ovation Audio Video - and I had to go out to Indy to do some training for some of their salespeople a few weeks ago. Since I only get out to Indy about two or three times a year, I always treat the guys to a nice meal somewhere. They know that I don't like chains or restaurants that I can eat at back home in Iowa, so they always do a great job in coming up with unique restaurants to the Indianapolis area for us to go. This particular evening, they picked out Naked Tchopstix - a Pan-Asian/Sushi Bar with two locations in Indianapolis and one up in Fort Wayne (see locations here). We went to the location at 96th and Keystone on the North side of Indy (see map).
David and Maggie Lee opened the first Naked Tchopstix restaurant back in 2003. Since then, they've won numerous local awards for having some of the best Asian food in the Indianapolis area. Many of the items on their dinner menu feature twists on Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian cuisine. They also have an extensive and eclectic sushi menu that the guys from Ovation were saying is one of the best in the city. One of the guys was telling me their Korean-style food was just excellent, as well.
We sat at a large table toward the back corner of the restaurant, too large for the six of us who went out to dinner, but large enough where we weren't on top of one another. Actually, the table was a little to large for the little riser deck that it was on and I can see where some people have probably slid their chairs backward and fallen off the 9 inch deck. The restaurant, itself, was full of large sturdy tables and oriental style wooden chairs. Oriental lamps hung from the ceilings and small bamboo trees were interspersed around the dining room.
I was set on getting some sushi, but I was sort of intrigued by a Korean dish they had on the menu, the spicy pork - grilled pork that is sliced, then seasoned in a spicy red pepper marinade and served with rice and a vegetable medley. I got that and a little bit of sushi to go along with it.
While most of the others got sushi, one of the guys got the General Tso's chicken - basically breaded chicken nuggets, deep-fried and then served in a tangy orange sauce. He told me, "I've had General Tso's chicken at a lot of places in my life, but these guys do it the absolute best."
A lot of people were getting sushi at Naked Tchopstix that evening, so our entrees showed up before the sushi did. The spicy pork dish lived up to its billing. The pork was succulent and tender, and the red pepper marinade that they put the pork into gave it a nice spicy bite, but not enough that it was burn your face off hot. It wasn't a large plate so it was just enough food to go along with the sushi that I got.
I got a five piece spicy tuna roll along with two pieces each of the maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), tai (red snapper) and some smoked salmon. I had made a significant dent in the spicy pork entree when the sushi showed up at that table.
And the sushi was very good. While we all agreed that Mikado in downtown Indianapolis could very well be the best sushi in all of Indianapolis, Naked Tchopstix did a very good job with their sushi. The sushi was very fresh and tasty, although the spicy tuna roll could have been a little more spicy.
The guys ordered up a ton of sushi to share among themselves. And they got some pretty eclectic stuff. Naked Tchopstix has a special roll called the Corona Roll that a couple of the guys ordered up. It featured white tuna, spicy tuna, avocado, tempura chips and a slice of lime on top (below left). There was also the Rainbow roll (pictured below on the far right) that consisted of tuna, salmon, red snapper, white tuna, avocado, and sweet shrimp on the outside with avocado, crab meat and cucumber on the inside. I had a bite of both of them and they were just outstanding.
But the most interesting food of the night was the Playboy roll. First of all, it comes to your table wrapped in foil and the waiter poured a little cognac around the base of the foil and set it on fire. When the cognac burned out, he unfoiled the sushi roll and set it on the table. What's in a Playboy roll is just unbelievable - it's an inside/outside roll with shrimp tempura, asparagus, tempura chips and spicy tuna on the inside and cooked shrimp with a spicy and sweet sauce on the outside. Oh man! Was it good. I had a piece and the charred taste from the ritualistic table side torching of the foiled sushi roll was a taste sensation that I'd had before with the chargrilled octopus from Estiatorios Milos in Montreal. The Playboy roll was so good that it was quickly gobbled up by all of us at the table. I didn't hesitate when the waiter came back to order up another one. And no one complained when I did. The second Playboy roll was just as good as the first one.
The guys at Ovation do a great job of turning me on to some great restaurants in the Indianapolis area and Naked Tchopstix was no exception. With the CEDIA Expo coming back to Indianapolis later this year, there's no doubt that I'll be called upon to come up with some suggestions of great places to eat when we're in town that week in September. Brugge Brasserie is one place that will be high on the list - a place that the Ovation guys took me to last year and I enjoyed thoroughly. But Naked Tchopstix is also a good option as we all like to go out for sushi at least once during our time together as a company. Naked Tchopstix is more than just basic sushi - it's eclectic sushi with a number of fascinating pan-Asian items on the menu. I hope to be doing a lot more business with the Ovation Audio Video guys as I'll have to go back out to Indianapolis and enjoy more of what the area has to offer in great restaurants.