So far I’ve only reviewed 2 Japanese restaurants. Koi in NYC and Sushi Lounge of Hoboken. This is because Japanese food is incredibly tough to make gluten free. Sure, some basic rolls are naturally gluten free butdo they use gluten filled soy sauce to make the rice sticky? Does the restaurant offer any gluten free soy sauce? Are any of the sauces, especially spicy mayo, actually gluten free? How is cross contamination? I’ve also reviewed only one Chinese restaurant because Chinese is even more impossible, but that’s a different story. Here is my third Japanese restaurant review and it covers the newly opened Saku restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The food here is nothing short of incredible. It’s very different and unique, but incredible. This isn’t your typical spicy tuna or shrimp and avocado rolls. These rolls are behemoths and have so many unique ingredients. For an appetizer, I got the duck tacos which came on corn tortillas. The tacos were extremely flavorful but the taco shells (which were a mix between hard and soft weirdly) were pretty bland. The sushi rolls I got though were absolutely mouthwatering. I got the “surf and turf roll” and the “death by Hamachi roll.” The first one includes blue crab meat, spicy mayo (yes, gf spicy mayo), avocado, scallions, wagyu steak, eel and wasabi mayo. How that even fits into or on top of 1 roll is mind blowing but they made it happen and made it taste incredible. The second roll, which was my favorite, had spicy yellowtail, cucumber, yellowtail, jalapeno, scallions, fish egg and sweet chili mayo. The presentation of the food is where this place really shines though and everything looks as good as it tastes.
The menu options for gluten free are vast and even many gluten filled items can be altered to make gluten free. The menu is very honest too. I was skeptical about the wasabi mayo or the spicy mayo but I had zero issues. I even Nima tested one of the rolls and it came back with all smiles. On a side note, they offer gluten free buns for their one burger option, corn tortillas for their taco appetizers and substitutes for anything that is deep fried to avoid cross contamination. Very impressive. You can tell this restaurant menu was designed to cater to all diets and dietary restrictions.
This was the one slight weak spot in this restaurant’s experience from the gluten free standpoint. To the defense of the restaurant though, it is only about a month old. There are always growing pains with any new restaurant where service is concerned and this is no different. Anyway, here’s why I’m giving them a 7.6 right now (which I could easily see jumping up into the 8’s or 9’s given enough time). My server seemed annoyed by me asking him to make sure if the kitchen knows of my allergy. I wasn’t offended but it gave me a lack of confidence going forward. The duck tacos came out from the manager as the server was no where to be found. I asked if they were gluten free just out of habit and lack of confidence with the server. She wasn’t sure so she brought it back to find out and came out empty handed to let me know the kitchen was remaking it with the corn tortillas. If I wasn’t aggressive in the least bit or blindly trusted the server, then I would have been in the hospital that night.
The other issue is that for the sake of a beautiful presentation, which was incredibly beautiful, they didn’t bring my sushi out on a separate plate. They thankfully made my significant other’s sushi roll order gluten free to help avoid cross contamination, but I had to move all my rolls onto a separate plate. Reason being, if soy sauce is being used on the one roll by someone who isn’t gluten free, then it could easily drip onto my rolls when being picked up. This wasn’t the biggest of deals and I imagine this is the kind of thing that gets fixed easily but definitely worth mentioned. Again, our server was no where to found so after getting the wrong tortilla roll the first time around made me nervous with the sushi. Fortunately, there were no issues.
Did I Get Sick (NO)
I honestly thought I would since service didn’t inspire much confidence, even though they successfully corrected the first issue. But fortunately I felt great upon leaving and never got sick.
This new, hip, trendy and unique Japanese restaurant is definitely a must visit in my opinion. I think service will continually get better since the concept of the food and menu is based on an understanding of dietary restrictions and cross contamination safety. The food is incredible and the menu options are top notch. I will absolutely be going back very soon!