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Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Habeas Dessert- Sushi Showdown

*The "Habeas Dessert" articles come from a series of columns that I write for my law school newspaper.

            There comes a time in life when you have to decide whether or not you are going to eat sushi. Not the wimpy rolls full of cream cheese, crab, and smoked salmon, but the ones covered in raw fish with slivers of eel and fish eggs. If you decide that you are indeed a sushi person, you’re going to love the Greater Lansing area. While the area isn’t really known for its worldly cuisine, there is a surprisingly large number of sushi restaurants to choose from. For this issue, we focused on two of the most popular restaurants- Sansu in East Lansing and Maru in Okemos.

            Sansu is extremely popular with the Michigan State crowd. They offer a 20% discount to students, including Cooley students, every Tuesday, and the place is a madhouse. Make a reservation. A recent Friday night dinner started with the avocado boats- halved avocado stuffed with crab and tuna, tempura battered. I could have eaten these for dinner. I could eat these for breakfast. They were fantastic. I always order edamame when having sushi and I knew that Sansu has a great garlic edamame that’s not on the menu. The garlic adds a little kick and it’s worth requesting from your server.

            We had the ubiquitous salad and miso soup, which was nothing special. Bigger chunks of tofu in the soup would be welcome. That was followed up with salmon and yellowtail tuna sashimi, which came in huge quantities. If there are only two diners, one order of sashimi will be more than enough. We soldiered on and made our way through a massive platter of rolls, including the Green Dragon roll, the Champagne roll, and the Calamari roll. The Champagne roll is a favorite of the Sansu faithful, with good reason. The roll had tuna, salmon, white tuna, avocado, and is tempura battered. After several visits to Sansu, I believe that this is the best roll on the menu.

            The Green Dragon roll had eel and cucumber, topped with avocado. I could take it or leave it. The Calamari roll included, of course, calamari, which was lightly battered and delicious. With our stomachs already stuffed, but willing to sacrifice ourselves in the name of research, my companion and I ordered the green tea ice cream. It was underwhelming. The owners of Sansu also own Chapelure, a bakery that is near the restaurant. If you can still entertain the thought of dessert, walk around the corner and have a piece of their cake instead.

            The two of us had about 15 pieces of sushi to take home. They made a great lunch the next day. Sansu is in the Hannah Plaza on
Hagadorn Road
. Without asking you to rely on this statement and opening myself up to an accusation of libel, I’ve heard that Sansu sometimes freezes their fish. If true, this is tantamount to a sin amongst sushi fans, but I’ve never had any complaints about the freshness of what I ordered.

            The next week I continued my sushi crawl and met two other friends for lunch at Maru in Okemos. Maru is one of the newest players in the Lansing sushi market and has been making a splash with their “Sushi Happy Hour,” where every day they offer select rolls at half price. Find them on Facebook or Twitter to get the happy hour updates.

            We started with the calamari, which came in big rings with a spicy aioli sauce. The sauce was delicious and we kept the bowl on the table to eat throughout the meal. The salmon sashimi was the freshest I have ever had and was complimented by the salad and miso soup, which included massive chunks of tofu. One companion, a sushi novice and unadventurous eater, had the lunch special of Philly and Cali rolls. I don’t care for cream cheese and declined to sample these rolls, but they looked like average, well-prepared sushi for the wimpy eater. He enjoyed them.

            My other companion had the Papa Crema roll. This too included cream cheese, but I couldn’t resist chopsticking a piece for myself. The roll was made of crab, smoked salmon, avocado, the above-mentioned cream cheese, and was tempura battered. It was topped with slices of sweet potato, which seemed an odd combination but was a welcome addition. It was delicious.

            I had the Cosmo roll- a shrimp tempura roll topped with tuna, avocado, scallions, masago, honey wasabi aioli and spicy mayo. It was good, but my favorite remains the Soy Joy- spicy tuna, albacore, and cucumber with tempura and soy paper. It is sprinkled with edamame and it is worth the drive to Okemos. Maru is across the street from the Meridian Mall at
5100 Marsh Road
. The service is fantastic and the green tea always tastes so much better than what I make at home. They have a full bar. The restaurant seats less than 100 people, so plan ahead or make a reservation. I would be happy to join you.

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