Update: Mr. Sugano retired, and Sugano restaurant closed in August 2016. If you’re craving sushi in Lexington, Kentucky, I recommend visiting Buddha Lounge, Tomo, or Aqua. My latest dinner at Buddha Lounge was delicious, as you can imagine from the photo below!
When you’re thinking about a great sushi restaurant, the first thing that always comes to mind is “strip mall,” right? Probably not, but in Lexington, Kentucky, it should be. There are several good sushi spots in town, but if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese sushi bar experience, Sugano is the place. Located at 1533 Eastland Parkway, Sugano is in a dimly lit, non-descript strip mall just off New Circle Road at the Winchester Road interchange. Although that area may not be at the top of your list of typical Friday night haunts, it’s the perfect place if you feel like getting out of the country for a bit without ever leaving the city.
I haven’t been to Japan (yet), but if the number of people in Sugano speaking anything but English is any indication, Sugano is as close to a sushi bar in Tokyo as Lexington can get. Our chef for the evening worked behind a counter displaying deliciously fresh fish, and we enjoyed watching him create masterpiece after masterpiece for his diners with impressive speed. For those sitting at the counter, the chef passes each course to you at your seat and grunts in your direction to let you know your dish is ready.
Our first course was a shared dumplings appetizer, complete with two Kirin draft beers and complimentary edamame. We savored every, last bite. For the main course, I ordered a sampling of three different kinds of sushi: salmon roe, tuna, and tofu. I was pleasantly surprised that they were made differently than the typical “rice on the outside, fish on the inside” roll made in most American sushi restaurants. Each roll had a fresh, distinctive flavor and looked great served on a bamboo board with wasabi and pickled ginger.
As much as I liked my dinner, I definitely had food envy when I saw what Mr. WACH ordered. He chose the Mini Chirashi Sushi, which is a bowl of sushi rice topped with several different kinds of sushi. It was artfully arranged and allowed us to sample many different types of fish in a single dish. After our meal, we were pleasantly surprised when our server brought us complimentary cups of hot green tea to enjoy as we finished our date.
The next time you have a sushi craving that can’t be ignored, I suggest you take a drive over to Eastland Parkway and visit Sugano. You won’t be disappointed, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to share a meal with this fat cat. Be careful though, despite that sweet face, he’s probably not the best opponent for a sake bomb contest.