Not far from the hotel I like to stay at in suburban Bloomington, MN is a restaurant called Osaka Seafood Steakhouse. Sort of burned out on all different types of food, I thought maybe some sushi would be a good meal one particular evening. I had seen Osaka from the freeway a number of times and decided to make the short run from the hotel to see what they had to offer.
Osaka Seafood Steakhouse is a hibachi/sushi restaurant with six locations in and around the Twin Cities, a location in Rochester, MN, and a location up in Fargo, ND. Actually, most of the locations have "Osaka Sushi & Hibachi" on the outside of their buildings, but I guess their official name now includes the Seafood and Steakhouse, something they added after they opened locations in Bloomington, Fargo and Rochester.
The Osaka location in Bloomington is located off American Blvd. on Southtown Boulevard, next to I-494 and just west of the Southtown Center shopping complex. (see map) It's located in the north end of a parking lot they share with Rainbow Foods, a local Twin Cities-area chain of grocery stores.
It was around 8 p.m. when I walked in and was greeted by a hostess at the stand inside the front door. She asked me if I wanted to sit at a table or booth in the dining area (below left), or at the hibachi grill. I asked if I could just sit at the sushi bar and it sort of startled her. "Oh, sure! Of course! You want sushi!"
The sushi bar at Osaka isn't all that large. It seats, maybe, a dozen people and there were two couples already seated there when I got in. It's opposite a regular bar where no one was seated. The hostess had a menu in her hands, but when I told her that I was just going to get sushi, she took that away.
Another young girl came over and took my drink order. I ordered a tall bottle of Asahi and looked at the sushi check list while I waited. I'm pretty predictable when it come to sushi - spicy tuna roll, smoked salmon, regular salmon, tuna and usually some yellowtail or fluke. I ordered a couple pieces of the yellowtail as well as some spicy tuna sushi that evening in addition to the other stuff when she came back with my beer.
Not long after I ordered my sushi, one of the sushi chefs handed me a platter over the top of the refrigerated case. The spicy tuna rolls featured a generous 8 pieces. The other sushi had nice big chunks of fish on the hand-rolled rice. The spicy tuna sushi had a crunch topping to it. It was a lot of sushi.
The spicy tuna rolls were all right, nothing real special. The smoked salmon had a nice smoked flavor to it, and the tuna was very fresh in taste. The spicy tuna, well, I didn't think it was all that spicy. The rest of the sushi was basically average, at best. It wasn't bad, but far from the best sushi I've had.
Halfway through my meal, I was out of beer. I asked for another bottle of Asahi and the girl brought me back a large bottle of Kirin. She said, "We are out of Asahi, sir. Would you like Kirin instead?" It was already opened, but I asked if they had Sapporo. She said they didn't. I took the bottle of Kirin and the first drink reminded me why I didn't order Kirin. Its bitter taste was a complete contrast to the smooth taste of the Asahi that I had. Wait a minute - a sushi place that is out of Asahi and doesn't carry Sapporo? It was the middle of the week, but that's no excuse. I don't care for Kirin and I only drank about half before I gave up. To her credit, she did comp me on the bottle of Kirin because I told her I didn't like it.
All in all, the sushi at Osaka was good, but not the best, as I said. For being close to the hotel, it was fine. But I'm sure I probably could have found better sushi with a little bit of a drive. Still, for what it was, the sushi at Osaka was acceptable. Compared to other sushi places, it was a good value. Osaka has nine locations so they must be pretty popular with the locals. To me, it was all right for what it was.