Mandeville: 1705 US 190. 985-624-8955. Map.
AE DC DS MC V
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The Japanese restaurant community has been growing in West St. Tammany Parish–probably a bit faster than the clientele. This one stands out not so much for its sushi–which compares favorably with the other sources nearby–but for the excellence of its cooked offerings. The Sake Garden’s board of specials is highly appealing, enough so that an all-sushi meal would miss more than half of the available thrills here.
Uni shooter–Sea urchin with a quail egg and a citrusy sauce, in a martini glass. (You won’t be able to actually shoot it, but it’s great.)
Ankimo–Monkfish liver, the foie gras of sushi bars.
Miso-crusted baked black codfish–Much more delicious than it sounds.
Albacore tuna tataki–Pepper-crusted, seared, with ponzu.
Great Lady’s Roll–Whitefish, avocado, masago roe, oba leaf. I’ve never had anything quite like this before. Lots of caviar.
Sake Gardens opened at a terrible time: 2005, which meant that they no only had Katrina to deal in their early days, but also major road construction right in front of the place. It took over the tiny restaurant formerly that of J Bistro and Sutherlin’s.
In a rather stark strip mall, the restaurant is a small, longer-than-wide dining room in which a sushi bar fits perfectly. Mirrors give the illusion of space at the tables opposite the bar.
The entire menu can be viewed here.
»Special rolls, particularly Rocky II and Rocky III, spicy tuna naruta roll, and Great Lady’s roll.
»Sushi and sashimi at the bar
Oshinko (Japanese pickles)
»Saba-yaki (grilled salted mackerel)
Yellowtail cubes with caviar
»Sunomono (seafood marinated in sweet vinegar)
»Chicken maki (grilled tuna rolled around asparagus)
»Shu mai (steamed shrimp dumplings)
»Unagi don (grilled eel with rice)
Beef, chicken, salmon or shrimp teriyaki
Fried soft-shell crab with house sauce
»Specials from the board
FOR BEST RESULTS
The best meal I ever had her came when I asked to be served every one of the six or seven dishes listed on the specials board. If that’s a bit much, do at least alternate sushi items with the hot dishes, even if that’s not your usual dining habit.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The road on which the restaurant is located has no real name other than US 190, which is terribly confusing.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted