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Sushi Hut

Sushi HutUpdate 1/20/2011: Sushi Hut will become Osaka House.

In a word: Their hut's not in it.

The specs: #0619  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Evening Chef; listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Facebook, Sushi Hut on Urbanspoon

Latest Sushi Hut news and reviews

The table was full of rolls we shared: Badger, California, special vegetarian, Philly, scallop, and spicy salmon.
Alex ate a miso soup and a sake.
Greg ate the udon soup.
JM ate the chicken and shrimp hibachi.
Nichole ate the spicy salmon salad.
Phoebe had a sake.
The bill was $114, or $19/person, plus tip.
Greg gave Sushi Hut an A; Trish gave Sushi Hut a B+; Alex gave Sushi Hut a B; JM and Nichole gave Sushi Hut a B-; Phoebe gave Sushi Hut a C (see our grading rubric).

Mystery progressive dinnertimeWe hit three "Sushi" spots on the Black Friday Mystery Progressive Dinner (BFMPD), which involved foodnapping a few locals and having them come with for all three in one night.  This was the second of the three, after Sushi Box

State Street's Sushi Hut serves above-par sushi but the service and atmosphere can't quite grasp what the place seems to be reaching for. The phone was always busy (off the hook?) when we called to confirm their hours. The upstairs and downstairs are two different worlds: downstairs is a place for a fast, fine fishy lunch, and upstairs bifurcates again. It looks like a tranquil spot, with intimate tables, its own bar, and a traditional-style screened off dining area with a low table and cushions. In practice it might be overtaken by obnoxious patrons repeatedly having to ask for forks (us) or sending their kids to the bar for more beers (them).

We ordered a California roll at each restaurant on the BFMPD to serve as a baseline. At Sushi Hut, the California roll was made with real crab and nice, ripe avocado, but Alex noticed that it was different from the classic combination in some way we couldn't pinpoint. Perhaps it was missing the cucumber.

UdonMiso soup

The soups were hit and miss. The miso soup was very light and under-salted, and the tofu had an unpleasant, crumbly texture. The udon soup had lots of thick noodles; Greg found it filling by itself, but he was a real trouper, and pressed on.

Chicken and shrimp hibachiSpicy tuna salad

The entrees were all miss. The flavor of JM's chicken and shrimp hibachi was mostly salt. The quantity of meat was good, but there were too many onions for his taste.  Nichole's inadvisable spicy salmon salad was mostly iceberg lettuce mix with an OK sesame curry dressing, topped with chunks of cold spicy salmon tossed in roe to add pop (the best part).

RollsBadger rollSushi assortment

The sushi rolls were where the Hut did best, but even those were scatter-shot. Phoebe's vegetable roll was so bland she didn't even eat it: "Typically, when you see me pass up a sushi roll, it's time to call the ambulance." To Trish most of the other rolls had a lot of flavor: "unlike Sushi Box, where the wasabi pretty much overpowered everything, here the flavors really sang." Alex's scallop roll was a winner: "beautiful presentation, fresh scallop with good texture and flavor, and an outstanding spicy Japanese mayo." Greg got a kick out of the Badger roll's school spirit, all red and white with cheese.

We were surprised Sushi Hut had so many rough edges with such formidable competition for State Street sushi dollars in Wasabi (not to mention Takara and even grab-and-go options like the Zen Sushi cart and the delis at UW Memorial Union). On the other hand, maybe the demand created by other venues has reached the level where even mediocrity can give it the old college try.

Sushi Hut made an OK second stop in our sushi tour, but the best was yet to come.

Comments

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They were not busy. I was alone and only one of three of the small tables with patrons. I ordered the yellowtail roll and the Alaska roll. I was quickly brought one Alaska roll(?) and an eel roll. I like eel so I thought I'd try it and not complain. The eel was mushy (old?) so I asked the host over to my table and complained it was the wrong order and that the eel was not fresh. He acted like he knew the problem already and got me a yellowtail roll. He left the eel tray on my table. I left it on the table. Failing grade in my book.

Sushi Hut/Osaka House has been closed for a couple of years now. It is now an improved noodle shop called Chen's Dumpling House.

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