Dining out: Sushi Yah

Published: Friday, April 9 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

I was really in the mood for sushi or sashimi when my friend, Cindy, and I visited Sushi Yah — and then I didn't order any.

Who knows why I do some of the things I do?

It's not that the food I had was bad; in fact, I enjoyed my bento lunch of unagi (that's eel to us English-speakers) with a whole bunch of sides. And Cindy rescued me by ordering sushi, and then sharing it, so I had some, after all.

We'd come in for the all-you-can-eat sushi lunch, in which diners choose from a long list of rolls and nigiri (two pieces at a time) and basically just keep choosing more until they're full.

Sounds good, right? Apparently this is commonly found in Japan, and it's popping up here and there, even in Utah — at Sushi Yah, for example.

But I didn't have it. I got there and balked at paying $15 for lunch. I didn't spend too much less on my bento, but $15 for lunch is one of those price points that isn't an automatic "yes" for me. Instead, it's a "stop and think about it" price. And while I was thinking, my eyes wandered across the unagi bento … and that was that.

I don't often see cooked unagi on a menu, and so I half expected my lunch to be sashimi or an unagi roll (the menu just says, "unagi combo").

But there it was, a plump, split piece of beautifully tender, steaming eel. I'm certain that many readers are a little revolted at the idea, but you shouldn't be. The eel was much less fishy than many other common seafood options, and it was lightly dressed with that lovely sweet sauce that makes unagi rolls so delicious.

With it, in standard bento style, I had eight pieces of nicely prepared and fresh-tasting California roll (a standard recipe filled with crab, avocado and cucumber), two tender and crispy tempura shrimp, a big pile of sliced tempura-coated potatoes and sweet potatoes, miso soup and a "house salad" of iceberg lettuce and a few veggies with a nice, tangy dressing.

Cindy also went with something besides the all-you-can-eat option, deciding instead for the sushi lunch combo of four rolls, cut into four pieces each. At $6.99 it's a bargain and filling to boot.

I don't know if the rolls offered in this combo are ever rotated; I thought the selection was appropriate for springtime, if a bit repetitive. There was a spicy California roll, tempura vegetable roll, tempura shrimp roll with cucumber and, my favorite, a "New Jersey" roll of fresh and flavorful salmon and avocado.

My 4-year-old son, who was with us, is a big fan of sticky rice. I thought about just getting him a side order of plain rice and calling it good, but instead I went with one of the lunch specials, a rice bowl of kid-friendly teriyaki chicken, nicely cooked, sliced and topped with teriyaki sauce and a sprinkling of scallions. He enjoyed it, and my husband enjoyed his leftovers that night.

Sushi rolls and nigiri $2.50-$9.50, sashimi $5.95-$15.95, lunch specials and combinations $6.99-$9.95, all-you-can-eat lunch $14.95, all-you-can-eat dinner $19.95, appetizers $3-$7.95, salad $1.95-$6.50, bento $9.95-$10.95, dessert $1.95-$4.95.

Sushi Yah

Rating: ★★★

Where: 2440 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights

Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dinner: Monday-Friday, 5-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 801-944-3933

Wheelchair access: Easy

Also: Party trays available

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. e-mail: skratz@desnews.com