The seller's market for sushi seems to have peaked. With seventy-three sushi bars around town, I think I detect a few net sushi bar closings, and a much smaller, less ambitious menu in most of the new places. While I've never seen a big crowd at either Wasabi, the food has always been excellent, and the place seems solid.
Both in the Marigny Triangle and Lakeview, Wasabi brought sushi to neighborhoods bereft of the delicacy. In both places, there are a lot of people who go for Japanese dining, which makes one wonder why it took so long. That clientele also knows from quality, and Wasabi put forth excellent fish and a big menu of other beautiful food from the outset.
Wasabi's original location in Marigny opened in 2002. It was well enough received that it opened a second location on Canal Boulevard, near the cemeteries. That was wiped out by Katrina, but in 2009 Wasabi had returned to Lakeview, taking over the former Windjammer on Pontchartrain Boulevard, across from the marina. The name is, of course, that of the pale-green horseradish/mustard that comes with sushi and sashimi and blasts your nasal passages wide open when you eat too much of it at one time.
The Marigny location doesn’t seem right for a sushi bar, but it works. It's an old store built in an antique Creole style from the early 1800s, with few windows and a blindingly saturated exterior color scheme. Inside, the two rooms have been adapted well. The sushi bar is in the rear, brighter room, but tables are in both. The front room sports a bigger, older bar than we're used to seeing in a Japanese place; it's a popular hangout. Jazz plays on the sound system. The Lakeview restaurant is bigger and sports a spacious, modern main dining room and another large bar.
Even if you have a standard sushi order, ask about everything on the specials board. These really are special. They seem to have fresh sea scallops more often than I see in other sushi bars. The selection of sake is very good.