ROLL with It

Tempura’s rising at Southside sushi place


Some days, you need sushi—something light, but something that sticks to your ribs, like an ideal summer repast. Don’t kid yourself–summer’s coming, hot, sticky conditions when nothing but sushi will cool the palate.

Sawa Sushi, tucked in a strip-mall, is the kind of place I love; the staff’s friendly, it’s nice and quiet, and has good, quality food at good prices.

When I order sushi, I use a sheet system; Sawa’s sheet is divided into salads, soups, traditional rolls, fried rolls, sashimi/house rolls, bento boxes, tempura, katsu, teriyaki, hibachi, sashimi à la carte, dessert, drinks. Most can be lunch-sized. You pay per piece, roll or dish.

There’s a small sushi bar for roll prep. Sawa defines sushi as fish with a rice bed and sashimi as solo fish. No confusion.

We tried tuna ($2.25) and scallop ($2.50) sushi. Both were fresh with a nice texture. This was my first raw scallop and I didn’t know what texture to expect. Slightly pillowy, but not chewy or mushy, it was brushed with ponzu, a citrusy soy sauce; a nice plus to the flavor.

In Sawa Special Roll section, there are 20-plus items. Seems to me if you’re gonna name a menu section after your place, then name a sushi roll the same … go for it. The Sawa Roll ($8.50) is tuna and avocado topped with spicy salmon. A good combo; I’d get it again.

It’s not a sushi party till ya get tried-and-true rolls. In the Roll or Hand Roll category, the Eel Avocado ($4.95) and Shrimp Tempura ($5.25) spoke to me. Fried Roll section had a Dynamite Roll ($6) of salmon, krab stick and cream cheese ($6) deep-fried to krunchy krispness.

Those who run Sawa are sharp; they know some of their guests want food, not random, Gollum-inspired orts, so there’s a sizable selection of hibachi, tempura, appetizers, noodles and Chef’s Specials–General Tso chicken, sweet & sour chicken and sesame chicken. I picked a Dinner Bento Box; it looked like a lot of food for the money. For $14.50-$16.50, feast on rice, choice of protein, six pieces of California roll, mixed veggie and shrimp tempura, fried rice, three mini shrimp shumai (dumplings) and soup and salad (clear soup plus ginger salad is the only way to go). The protein–chicken, shrimp, beef or salmon teriyaki and pork or chicken katsu (fried cutlet), looked good. The thinly pounded pork katsu was a clear winner. Almost zero fat and a crust that’d make yo’ mama’s fried chicken cry. So crisp–I didn’t know that kind of crispiness was possible. We asked about the katsu sauce ingredients, but the chefs keep the recipe under wraps. (Get it? Wraps?) As we dined, we witnessed at least six food delivery services pick up lots of party food … imagine: Sawa Sushi brings delights right to your door. 

If you have a dining venue recommendation, email Brentley at

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