Hokkaido Sushi & Steak House, 4101 W Green Oaks Blvd, Arlington.682-334-3364. 11am-10pm daily. All major credit cards accepted.
The saying “something for everybody” rarely applies at a non-chain restaurant. So when my guests and I ogled the glossy, seven-page menu at Hokkaido Sushi & Steak House in southwest Arlington we were delighted. There was at least one dish that each diner wanted to try. The bill of fare tilts heavily toward Japanese cuisine: sushi rolls, bento boxes, udon noodle plates, and hibachi-style meat and fried rice. Sadly, the hibachi is back in the kitchen and not at a table in the middle of the restaurant, so we missed out on the cook playing “hide the egg” in his chef’s toque. The menu also proffers a respectable assortment of Chinese dishes.
For starters, the egg drop soup was pleasingly gooey and salty, and it was the right kind of appetizer to fight the chill of a rainy evening. The fried crab Rangoon in dainty shells looked pretty, and its crab and cream cheese mixture was heavily seasoned with onion. However, the ratio of creamy faux crab to the actual amount of fried shell was a little disappointing.
The menu offers dozens of sushi options. When you’re going back and forth between menu pages, they all start to look the same: Many of the rolls incorporate tempura shrimp, salmon, faux crab, cream cheese, and/or some kind of spicy, creamy topping. From the fried tempura maki selections, the bagel roll was a combo of eel, salmon, cream cheese, sweet mayonnaise, and eel sauce, a delicious, salty, smoky brown reduction that added some much-needed flavor to the otherwise bland cooked salmon.
On the sashimi roll, delicate slices of white tuna, tuna, and salmon sashimi topped a combo of more tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and crab. Along with the fish, the roll included cream cheese, orange yamagobo root (which didn’t have much taste), and asparagus that was just a little too al dente to eat easily. The whole thing was topped with slightly crunchy tobiko (roe), which made for a pleasant, decadent way to get both sashimi and a roll at once.
The showstopper was the Dragonfly roll, mostly because the plate presentation included an orchid along with a multicolored lighted cube under shreds of daikon radish garnish. A center of tempura shrimp was wrapped with cream cheese, crab, nori, and rice, and then it was topped with thinly sliced avocado, salmon, and strawberries. The sweet strawberry and creamy avocado, along with the piquant accompanying mango sauce, really elevated the fairly standard roll.
Other than the appetizers, we weren’t tempted that much by the Chinese offerings on the menu. Since the predominant choices are fresh fish, I was a little skeptical about the shelf life of something like the Chinese standard roast duck with plum sauce (listed for an unbelievable $7). However, the hibachi menu yielded a great take on surf and turf: scallops paired with filet mignon, grilled and served with fried rice, grilled veggies, and a soy-based sauce. The quarter-sized scallops were perfectly cooked to moist creaminess. The filet was ordered medium but came out more well-done –– the meat was so tender that it didn’t matter. The slightly sweet, salty soy glaze drizzled over everything on the plate was tasty. Though the sushi entrées looked prettier, the beef and scallops were more filling –– the diner who ate the most didn’t complain of hunger an hour later.
For dessert, we opted for the elaborate Dragon Ball. The fried tempura-covered scoop of vanilla ice cream was served with chocolate drizzle atop a boat of aluminum foil on a tiny, fiery, blue alcohol-flamed lake. The foil kept the alcohol away from the already slightly soggy tempura coating. As dazzling as the dessert’s light show was, the fried bananas were actually a much better choice. The combo of warm bananas in a crispy tempura coating with cold vanilla ice cream was satisfying and comforting.
Informal reviews have pegged Hokkaido as “the best sushi in Arlington.” I’m not sure I agree completely, but the sheer volume of options, presentation, and choices for sushi-averse dining companions more than makes up for any shortcomings in originality.
Hokkaido Sushi & Steak House
Dragonfly roll $14.99
Hibachi steak and scallops $13.49
Fried banana $3.95
Dragon ball $5.95