You can’t judge a book by its cover, but some say you can judge a restaurant by the number of cars in the parking lot. Using that method alone, the Dining Divas predict Sushi Don is a sure winner before setting foot inside. If you’ve not eaten there before, we strongly suggest going early for two reasons. First – it gets busy so you’ll want to beat the crowd; second – the menu is huge, you’ll need plenty of time to check out all your choices.
Owner Gumdon Kang (Don for short) started in the food industry as a restaurant manager in Bloomington, Indiana. Soon he wanted his own business, came to Lafayette in 2013 and opened Sushi Don in its current location, 3338 Main Street, Lafayette.
[caption id="attachment_7824" align="alignright" ] Diana May sharing her sushi wisdom![/caption]
Today guest diva and sushi guide, Diana May, joins us having more experience eating swimmy things like Kay. While deciding what to have for lunch we share a bowl of edamame, blanched and lightly salted. "The dipping sauce, a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chili oil and sesame seeds, made it," says Jo. "Spicy and lively," says Bev. "The edamame was nice and crunchy and not overcooked," adds Diana.
Lunches come with miso and a salad. Margy likes the lightly sweet dressing on the salad and miso on this cold day. To start our lunch we order three appetizers:
Shumai- Japanese style fried shrimp dumplings, 7 PC $6. They may LOOK like a tater tot but they're way better with shrimp and lots of green onion.
Gyoza fried vegetable dumplings, 6 PC $5. The dumplings are a nice addition to the meal for our vegetarian friends.
[caption id="attachment_7818" align="alignleft" ] Seafood shunner - eel[/caption]
Kay suggests a Sashimi Sampler, 9 slices of 3 kinds of fresh fish including salmon and tuna for $14. Gorgeous! Served on a bed of julienned daikon radish noodles, the dish is really fresh! The white tuna is incredible. Delicious, yummy, nice texture and no fish taste or smell. Carb free.
As lunch gets underway, Kay orders eel tempura - $10. Beautiful presentation, crispy and flavorful. Even Bev tries it! Sauces and very finely julienned vegetables make it a delight to see and taste!
Diana decides on haemul hot stone - $13. Diana is happy with the spicy seafood mix, of octopus, mussels, shrimp, vegetables, rice and egg in a sizzling hot stone bowl. When they say spicy, they mean spicy but it's not over the top. Very edible.
[caption id="attachment_7852" align="alignright" ] Jap Che Set[/caption]
Bev chooses jap che set - $8. Jap che is stir-fried glass potato noodles with your choice of topping and vegetables with Don's sweet soy sauce. Toppings include bulgogi (marinated beef), pork, chicken, seafood, vegetable, kimchi (fermented cabbage), kimchi & bulgogi plus one maki (a type of sushi roll that includes toasted seaweed nori rolled around vinegar-flavored rice). Bev picks bulgogi and an avocado maki. The bulgogi is tasty and familiar. Warm noodles work in any country!
Bev points out the amount of prep work that must happen before the restaurant opens each day. Incredible! Our server Marilyn has worked at Sushi Don for two years. She explains that most of the prep work is done by hand and the chefs normally come in at 9am, two hours early but on Tuesdays and Thursdays they are in by 7am because those are the busiest days.
The menu has a list they call “Don’s special roll” which is two pages long! The well being - $9 is a delightful vegetarian option, with avocado, cucumber, Japanese pickle, carrot, cabbage, lettuce with Don's orange ginger dipping sauce. The sauce is sweet and we REALLY like it. We share the beautifully prepared roll with its minced vegetables, along with our entrees.
[caption id="attachment_7853" align="alignright" ] Sushi rolls[/caption]
Margy orders from the pick 2 maki (rolls) set for $8. From the nine options, asparagus tempura and shitaki maki win. The asparagus tempura has tiny, tender spears fried in tempura batter and then put in a sushi roll. The asparagus inside the roll is still crunchy, very fresh. Shitaki maki, aside from being really fun to say, tastes very mushroomy (yes, that is a word). Both choices are a hit!
[caption id="attachment_7850" align="alignleft" ] Seaweed and avocado salad[/caption]
Jo opts for the Seaweed and avocado salad. $5. Very fresh and not what she was expecting. The fresh seaweed, avocado, sesame seeds and a light dressing make a fresh and tasty salad. Something you might expect on a beach at a resort.
Need more to convince you to try Sushi Don? Consider this … every day has a 30% off dine-in only special; daily lunch specials from 11-4pm are good on both dine-in and take-out orders; and on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, sushi rolls are 50% off. And if you need someone to help you navigate the menu, we highly recommend Diana!!
Kay Conner, photographer, seafood superstar
Margy Deverall, author of Lafayette articles, dedicated vegetarian
Beverly Shaw, author of West Lafayette articles, bring on the beef (or chicken or pork)
Jo Wade, founder of this food blog, very veggie