A decade ago, sushi was still a delicacy in landlocked Wichita.
Those who ate it usually did so out of town, or in a tiny restaurant on Rock Road called Hana Cafe.
Today, though, Wichitans can find sushi just about anywhere — on both the east and west sides at fancy sushi restaurants, carryout sushi places, even at grocery stores.
Sushi pioneer Hana Cafe is no longer on Rock Road — and it's no longer tiny. It's now a popular and highly regarded sushi hot spot in Old Town Square that's regularly packed with sushi-loving lunch and dinner crowds.
Sushi places have been opening up at a rapid rate over the past year in particular, and will continue to open throughout the rest of this year.
Penny Ellis, who just opened Kanai, an upscale sushi restaurant at 12111 Maple, said that Wichitans have just become more sophisticated in their tastes.
They've traveled and eaten sushi and now want it at home, too. Plus, they recognize the health benefits of eating fresh fish, which also is easier for Wichita restaurateurs to obtain than it once was.
"Wichita's maybe been a little behind, but we're catching up finally," Ellis said.
Following is a list of some of Wichita's many already existing sushi restaurants as well as those that should open soon.
* Sumo by Nambara, 11233 E. 13th St., 316-838-7866: Sumo is the sushi spot most often named by foodies as serving the best sushi in town. The atmosphere is east-side chichi, as is the clientele on weekend nights. It doubles as a hibachi grill place.
* Hana Cafe, 325 N. Mead Street, 316-267-3766: A Wichita sushi pioneer, Hana now serves from a hip space in Old Town Square. Also on the menu: Korean and Japanese noodle dishes and more.
* Kwan Court, 1443 N. Rock Road: It's known for its Chinese fare, but Kwan Court also is respected for its sushi bar.
* Sakura, 7820 E. Harry, 316-613-2828: This Japanese restaurant has been serving quality sushi to south-siders since 2006.
New to the scene
* Kanai, 12112 Maple. 316-719-2929: Penny, Chris and Curtis Ellis just opened this upscale west-side sushi restaurant, which showcases the sushi skills of chef David Kanai (of Sumo and Tokyo fame). It serves dinner only.
* Gindi Thai & Japanese Diner, 7010 W 21st. St.: This west-side Asian eatery opened a year ago and serves excellent and attractive sushi. It also has a drive-through.
* Wasabi Japanese Restaurant, 912 E. Douglas: Downtowners will delight in this centrally located sushi restaurant, which is scheduled to open next month next to Larkspur.
* Wazabz, 3236 N. Rock Road: This steakhouse and sushi restaurant is set to open in Sumo's original space early next month.
* Tsu Basa, Kellogg and Rock: This restaurant should open soon in the former Mr. Goodcents at Eastgate Plaza and will be open daily for lunch and dinner, serving sushi, sashimi and Japanese-style noodles.
* Sino, 13303 W. Maple, 316-721-9888: Sino serves fast sushi and Chinese food to-go.
* Yamasa, 327 N. Hillside: Owned by the same people that have Sino, Yamasa also serves quick sushi and other Japanese dishes to go. A second is scheduled to open at 407 E. Pawnee next month.
* Dillons: Some of Wichita's fancier Dillons serve sell sushi to go, and some of Wichita's fancier diners say it is surprisingly good.