Dining with Denise Newsletter
August 1, 2014

Sushi good, teppanyaki even better at Jacky Chan Sushi

His name is Binh Tran, but if you like sushi, you can call him Jacky Chan.

He’s the energetic force behind Jacky Chan Sushi, a tiny but tidy sushi restaurant that opened in April in the former Sit at Thai Express space at 4910 E. Central. The restaurant, which seats 26, is easy to spot thanks to its new, bright red paint job.

Tran, whose nickname is Jacky Chan, was the longtime sushi chef at Kwan Court, which closed in 2011. He also made sushi for his brother’s restaurant, Sakura at 7820 E. Harry, which closed last New Year’s Eve.

Now, Tran is going it alone, preparing colorful and delicious dishes within reasonable driving distance of downtown and the east side.

• On the menu: One thing that’s not tiny at Jacky Chan Sushi is the menu. The restaurant offers seven pages worth of Japanese specialties, from nigiri and sashimi to specialty sushi rolls to appetizers to noodle dishes.

It also has a long list of temaki, seaweed cones overflowing with rice, seafood and vegetables. And it has a lunch menu, a vegetarian menu and lots of teppanyaki grill dishes.

• Don’t-miss dishes: We went to Jacky Chan Sushi expecting to be wowed by the bright and beautiful sushi rolls we’d seen pictured on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The rolls were good, but the Japanese teppanyaki dishes we sampled were even better.

The best was the teppanyaki shrimp, an beautiful serving of tail-on shrimp grilled with garlic, onions, green peppers and oyster mushrooms and garnished with chopped scallion. The sauce was smooth, and the flavor profile was complex. We tried it as a lunch special, and it came with a crispy crab rangoon, a small fried spring roll, a generous side of white rice and a serving of perfectly balanced hot and sour soup floating with big chunks of mushroom, all for $6.50. This might be the best deal on a lunch special offered in Wichita.

We also were surprised by the quality of the $5.99 teppanyaki udon with chicken, an attractive mixture of juicy chicken chunks stir-fried with cabbage, onions, julienne carrots, peanuts and thick udon noodles and topped with chopped scallion. It also came with hot and sour soup, a spring roll and crab rangoon. The quality to price ratio was in the customer’s favor with these two dishes, and larger versions of both are available after 3 p.m., as are additional teppanyaki dishes made with red snapper, salmon, beef and soba noodles.

We started the meal with an order of edamame ($3) and a serving of shrimp tempura and vegetables ($7). The edamame was a little limp and served salt-free, which was a disappointment. The tempura batter looked heavy on the shrimp and vegetables, but the flavor and texture were right on. The dish came with three shrimp spears, a huge onion ring with two circles of onion inside, a sweet potato medallion and a floret of broccoli. Each person at the table was given a personal soy dipping sauce to enjoy with the tempura.

The sushi rolls were so bright and colorful, they were almost too pretty to touch. The Jacky Special roll ($13.95), which gets a full-page color photo in the front of the menu, is topped with alternating and contrasting bright red tuna and green avocado with a streak of orange smelt row across the top.

We also tried the rainbow maki roll ($10), a basic California roll topped with large slices of different colored fish, from cooked shrimp to raw tuna. And at our waitresses’ recommendation, we ordered the shirokuro roll ($10). It was the most unique, filled with a mixture of spicy tuna, smelt roe, avocado and cilantro and topped with a creamy, almost nutty sauce, chopped scallion and black and white sesame seeds.

All of the rolls were fresh and delicious, though I wished they were a little colder. The fish was pretty close to room temperature by the time it arrived at the table. The rolls also were cut extra thick so that each one was at least an inch and a half across, making them a little difficult to eat without effort and awkwardness.

We also sampled the yellowtail nigiri, which again could have been colder, but the meat was thick and firm. Two large slices were $5.95.

• Ambiance: The dining room is small – really small – but the tables are arranged to comfortably seat 26 and can accommodate one larger group. It’s nicely decorated, with black chairs, white walls and pink accents. Behind the counter, a case filled with fish is visible, but the sushi counter is set too far back to see Tran in action.

• Price range: Lunch specials, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, are $5.99 and $6.50, though there are also a couple of $9.99 sushi combo meals and three bento boxes ranging from $8.99 to $15.99. Appetizers are $3 to $7. Dinner-sized teppanyaki entrees, served after 3 p.m., are $8.99 to $11.99. Sushi rolls range from $5.25 to $12.95.

• Service: Our waitress was friendly and attentive, and Tran would occasionally pop out from the kitchen to see if customers needed anything. During our visit, he was working the kitchen alone, and it was interesting to see how he prioritized the tickets. Our appetizers and warm dishes arrived quickly, followed soon after by the nigiri. Then, Chan prepared the dishes of the other two parties seated nearby us before starting on the sushi rolls. The wait for the rolls was lengthy, but they were clearly made fresh. Customers should be prepared for their meals likely not arriving at the same time.

The restaurant also has a drive-through.

Three new restaurants

1. Albero Cafe: The new Italian restaurant opened last week in the former Bocconcini building at 4811 E. Central. It’s owned by Hassan Ballout, who worked for 10 years at nearby Bella Luna Cafe. The menu includes flatbreads, salads, paninis and pasta dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausage penne and shrimp scampi. Entrees included grilled grouper, grilled salmon, strip steak, chicken Parmesan and eggplant Parmesan. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 316-260-9667.

2. Picasso’s, Derby: Kurt Schmidt opened his second Picasso’s Pizzeria at 620 N. Rock Road in Derby on Thursday. The restaurant will have the same big slices and sandwiches as the original, which opened at 621 W. Douglas in Delano in March 2012, but it will have slightly different hours. The Derby store will be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call 316-201-1743.

3. Round Browns Smokehouse:The former owners of Hamburger Hero just opened a new barbecue restaurant in Park City called Round Browns Smokehouse. It’s at 420 E. 61st St. North and serves brisket, pulled pork, smoked ham, smoked turkey, hotlinks, ribs, catfish and Hamburger Hero burgers. In 2011, Josh and Briana Sams moved their Hamburger Hero from Park City to a building at Douglas and Broadway, but it closed in 2012.

Calling all baristas: Reverie having a throwdown on Saturday

Are you among the hundreds of local coffee shop workers who steams milk like a boss and crafts a killer latte?

For $5, you can compete in Saturday night’s Midwest Barista Collective Barista Throwdown at Reverie Coffee Roasters, 2611 E. Douglas.

The event will feature local baristas steaming milk and using it to make a latte. A panel of judges will decide who did it best.

Andrew Gough, who owns Reverie, said he’s expecting about 30 competitors, including some from as far away as Garden City.

The goal is to make the throwdowns a monthly event in Wichita, Gough said. Spectators are invited to watch, and while they’re waiting, they can get dinner from The Flying Stove, which will be parked outside from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those who want to register can do so starting at 5:30 p.m. The fee is $5. The first pour will be at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, call 316-201-1144.

Churn & Burn opens on Tuesday

Local businessman Christian Shomberg and his fiancee, Jamee Lowe, will open Churn & Burn, a new ice cream and coffee shop at 556 S. Oliver, on Tuesday. The shop, which is filled with colorful relics and signs from the old Joyland, will specialize in ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, which results in a fast freeze and a denser, smoother product. It’ll stock several pre-made specialty ice creams in flavors such as avocado lime, Earl Grey Sriracha, strawberry balsamic and popcorn.

Customers also can watch as staff members make their ice cream in front of them. They can have coffee and espresso drinks frozen into ice cream treats, or customers can choose made-to-order chocolate or vanilla ice cream with candies and nuts mixed in. The shop will also sell regular coffee drinks and is getting its beans from the local Reverie Coffee Roasters. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 8 p.m. Sundays. On opening day, the store will open at 1 p.m. For more information, call 316-425-7766.

Cero’s ice cream social on Friday

A year ago, local chocolatier Cero’s Candies moved from 1108 E. Douglas to its new location at 3429 E. Douglas. On Friday, it will celebrate with an event that will include discounted ice cream, live music, prizes and games for kids. It’s from 6 to 8 p.m., and Cero’s will serve scoops of its store-made vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, coffee, cinnamon, banana and strawberry sorbet ice cream for $1.50 a scoop. The store also will serve lemonade and limeade. Local musician Terry Harrison of the band Front Porch Blues will perform, and kids can participate in bean bag tosses and more. Admission is free. For more information, call 316-264-5002.

Mexican restaurant El Tenampa is closed

El Tenampa, the authentic Mexican restaurant that opened in November in the old Burger Barn space at 3302 W. Central, has closed. The phone is disconnected, the building is empty, and it appears the restaurant has been closed since at least early July. The restaurant was owned by Guillermo Botello and specialized in tacos, gorditas and tacos filled with authentic Mexican meats.