Thursday, August 31, 2006

On a Roll (Dragonfly Restaurant- Sacramento, CA)

Braving the culinary center of 18th and Capitol in Sacramento on a Friday night is not something to take lightly. Zocalo, 58 Degrees and Holding, Aioli Bodega, Sakurabana, it's all there in one spot where droves of the trendy, the pretend to trendy, and the don't care to be trendy gather to dine. I make sure to call ahead for a table, pack my stun gun to get aid me through the herd, and a towline to help myself "find" a goddamn parking spot. Still, for the Dragonfly sushi, I was more than happy to suffer the gauntlet. Plus, my dear partner Rob was parking the car and dropped me off at the front door. I'm spoiled, don't hate me.

Dragonfly is the newest lovechild of Glenn Lew and Rosa Lew who decided to open the trendy Asian-fusion restaurant in what was once an auto showroom. Yet when walking in you see that the once showroom is now a vibrant and tempting open red room with a powerful bar, and the cutest lighting I'm trying to convince Rob to let me install in our kitchen. The overall contemporary Asian decor is like a architechtural freestyle haiku, giving the eyes a total feast. It was also slightly empty, with more empty tables inside that I would expect on Friday at 8 (the patio's people watching tables all taken however).

I had called earlier for a reservation to the voice of a friendly and assuring hostess (I had worried I was calling too late). She was still friendly the second time when I called to push the reservation back a half hour, and again to change the number of people from 4 to 2, and yet again to push back another half hour for traffic. Seriously, the girl had patience, even when I kept her waiting for another 15 minutes so Rob could park before being seated, yet she saved our table. Bra-vo. Our waitress was also top notch. She was very familiar with every single item on the menu and was wonderful in describing plusses and minuses, and personal and popular favorites. She was also a pro when describing and articulating her knowledge about the various sakes from the sake menu, helping me and my sake novice self.

Purusing the menu, you'll find imagination in every entry. Sushi lovers and detractors alike will be more than happy with the wide range of selections. A variety of creative rolls await the sushi lover. These rolls rival Mikuni's though I think that would require an extensive side by side comparison which I will grudgingly submit myself to as judge if the two restaurants ever want to have a formal showdown. The vegetable futomaki roll consisting of burdock root, dried gourd, radish, and a few other veggies has come to my ear as a winner. The terminator roll in honor/levity of the govenor is made up of shrimp tempura and spicy tuna, topped with ahi, yellowtail, salmon, and torched scallops which looked and smelled fabulous as it hovered by our table. Maybe it wasn't hovering, there might have been a wait staff carrying that fabu roll, but I can't recall. I stick with my hovering plate theory.

While waiting for our food we were plagued with some minor annoyances. The table behind us were a bit mowed, and breaking out a choras of the national anthem. I'll stand at a football game, but a drunken run of it over sake led by drunken table is not exactly my idea of a great time. I was a little suprised no one stopped them after that raucous first verse. Was the manager waiting for them to get on the table or something? Second we had been waiting about 20 minutes for our appetizer; a kitchen can be a bit behind at times and I understand this. However, when three grody old men and their trophy wives - you don't pinch your daughter like she's a piece of fruit - sat down, the kitchen manager, maybe owner, and one of the chefs came out right away and presented them with a heaping appetizer and a set of menus. Given, I've gotten to play VIP, and I've gotten to play watch from the line, and in both scenarios I find myself thinking that it's not fair. Seriously, it's not cool. They lose points for that.

The Hai Ku sake I ordered was warm and had a sort of apple taste to it, it was wonderful. However, the bit of burning afterward was not. Still, it was pleasant enough to drink and it put a smile on my face. Rob and I also enoyed the onion bread as an appetizer. The bread was fresh, and covered with a sort of salty and creamy onion and garlic butter and shredded green onions. Served with a side of a coconut milk dipping suace, the sweet and salty was a perfect blend. Our eyes rolled into the back of our heads from total effein' pleasure. May karma bless the creator of this, and bless my attempts to re-create it at home.

Our entrees were also the definition of perfection, earning definite snaps for the chef, and I don't hand out my snaps to freely. I had the dragonfly roll; shrimp tempura and snowcrab rolled up and snuggling with shibby oodles of ahi tuna, avocado, yellowtail, and salmon, then played upon with a spicy special sauce. I literally closed my eyes with every piece. No exaggeration. The eight pieces, a definite meal, was ethereal. Stunning and new texture combinations danced in my mouth. Flavor upon flavor built upon itself. This was poetry on a plate. The only downside, was that the slight spicy sauce overpowered the sake, making the it simply alcohol-y.

Rob had one of the specials, grilled marinated chicken with mangos over a bed of crispy noodles. A colorful dish and well presented, like the sushi it was a piece of art that simple worked with the whole building. Everything had been taken into account to compliment it's various counterparts. The chicken was full and flavorful, the crispy noodles remained crispy, the mango added that sweet and slightly acidic bite, and just a slightest hint of heat on the back of your tongue. Few dishes leave you feeling so complete and satisfied.

Overall, we had a wonderul experience. Though there was a hiccup or two, these in no way really detracted from my experience. I left full and satisfied, and plan to visit again. I highly suggest you go and visit before the unholy line outside of Zocalo realizes the prize waiting next door.

Dragonfly Restaurant
1809 Capitol Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 418-9200


  1. Sometimes I go to Sac, but not very often, for I don't know good places there - and I'm lazy to read The Sac Bee. I'm taking note of this suggestion! :-)


    My god ! So desirable


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