There’s an abundance of sushi restaurants in Oklahoma City, but there aren’t many that can stand up to Saii Asian Bistro.
Saii has built a pretty solid reputation since Finn Pramoj opened it about five years ago. Considering all the good things we’d heard about the restaurant, a friend and I decided to check it out.
The first thing you’ll notice is the atmosphere. It has a somewhat fancy feel, but also gives off a certain sense of tranquility. Dim lighting and decor, including a large waterfall at the front of the restaurant, add to the ambience. The friendly and helpful staff makes the atmosphere even more comfortable. Although Saii is located in a strip mall on a busy street, it actually feels out of the way, and that same vibe is highlighted inside the restaurant.
“It kind of feels like, even if you are surrounded by four other tables, you’re kind of secluded,” said manager Chad Hembree, who named the atmosphere as one of his favorite parts of Saii.
The menu is diverse, with dishes like steak, fried rice and curry; but we were there for sushi. We decided to start with the dynamite mussels ($7 for five). The shellfish, baked in spicy mayo and eel sauce, was cooked to perfection and had a wonderful flavor that was both spicy and tangy.
Next it was time to make our sushi selections. We went with a JB roll ($7), a crazy Cajun ($10), a lobster bomb ($16) and a nigiri freshwater eel ($4). The JB roll, comprised of salmon, cream cheese, jalapeño and green onion, was tempura fried, which gave it a nice crispy texture. The jalapeño and cream cheese complemented one another, and both melded well with the fish. The roll was topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce, which only added to the flavor. The crazy Cajun and lobster bomb rolls were tender by comparison; the former was served cold while the latter was a bit warmer. The crazy Cajun combined a number of ingredients, including a baked crawfish mix, cucumber, avocado and spicy mayo, to create a deliciously spicy flavor.
Hembree said the lobster bomb is one of the more popular rolls, and it was probably my favorite. The roll combined a number of tastes and textures with its tempura lobster, asparagus, avocado and garlic mayo.
The nigiri freshwater eel was pretty basic as far as ingredients go, but the eel was very flavorful. Adding wasabi and soy sauce to all of the sushi only improved what was already great. The nigiri came with just two pieces, but all of the rolls came in large portions.
Hembree said that many people tend to go with sushi at Saii, but he also spoke highly of the kitchen items, which are primarily Thai. He named the volcano chicken ($14), a spicy dish that is cooked and served in a stone pot, as one of the more popular dishes.
“I’ve been to Thailand, and it reminds me of it every time I get a kitchen dish,” he said.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.
Photos by Shannon Cornman