One of the (many) awesome parts of our jobs is that people from all over the state tell us what’s new or what’s coming up in the future. My teammates were at the South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism last January, and one of the calls I got was, “Hey, there’s going to be sushi in Spearfish!”
At long last!
Shortly after, I heard about a new restaurant in Spearfish that’s so packed that you need to get reservations. This was followed up with, “You know, the new sushi place?”
Aha! The buzz continues buzzing!
You don’t have to twist our arms to get out to the Black Hills to try this new hot spot right off of Main Street on Hudson.
As we entered the restaurant, I noticed right away that there was Japanese décor all over the front desk to the right, and more all the way to the back where there was the sushi chef and co-owner DJ Dong, working meticulously behind the sushi bar.
We were seated close to the bar in a quaint booth, which was a great spot to watch the chef and to people watch in general. It was around the time for a late lunch, and there were college students, people on dates, and patrons simply reading the newspaper and enjoying a roll (or three). The co-owner Angel was mingling with everyone, and it was hard to tell if she knew them or not with how well she got along with the whole room.
She soon greeted us and brought us two Boba Teas to start. What is Boba Tea, you ask? There is a page right in the (giant) menu to explain it to you! I’ll let the menu do the talking:
A Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in 1980s. Or ‘bubble tea.’ Most contain a tea base mixed with fruit or milk with chewy tapioca balls and fruit jelly often added. Bubble-like pearls are the defining feature of the drink. Marble-sized balls. ‘Contrary to its name, there are no bubbles in bubble tea.’”
Thanks, Menu! This wasn’t my first rodeo, as I lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for six months where they have some of the best Boba Tea shops in the world. First and foremost, though, these are not to start with. These babies are huge and could be a meal in itself. Angel stopped by and said, “Do not finish.”
Listen we did, and we slowly took sips out of our thick straws that allows the tapioca pearls to slide through. For some reason the anticipation of the balls scared me. There’s a joke there, but it’s too easy.
My tablemate just went for it, and it was her first time. There’s a joke there too, but I’m stopping now.
“It’s not bad, just do it. They’re good,” she said.
I finally got the gall and hit tapioca. Victory. And it was really sweet and delicious, and very chewy. Again, there were over half a dozen tapioca balls in there, so those plus the actual smoothie were very rich and filling. Be forewarned if you plan to eat.
Our server arrived and brought us waters and a plate of three kinds of kimchi. (Note: We constantly make fun of someone in our office for bringing in stinky kimchi to the fridge, so we were a little taken aback when we were served not only one, but three types of it.)
The server saw our faces. “No, don’t be scared, these are very good,” he said. “You’ll like them, just try. They’re not too spicy.”
We grabbed our chopsticks and started with the Pickled Daikon, which is a radish and carrots. Trying to show poker faces as the server watched, we realized we enjoyed it.
Next up was Pickled Napa, which is cabbage. Not bad at all.
Then the intimidating one – pickled turnips with jalapeño. I know I winced as it went to my mouth. Eyes closed. Chewed. Loved.
“That’s actually my favorite one,” I said.
Next up: Soup(s) and salad. The Green Salad had ginger dressing, iceberg lettuce, spinach, red cabbage, tomato, and carrots. It was your standard Japanese restaurant house salad, but with homemade dressing that I wanted to bottle up and take home.
The first was Miso Soup with tofu, seaweed, scallion, and soy bean paste. It enjoyed it, but it was hard to focus with Egg Drop Soup, which was the soup of the day. It came with crunchy noodles, which always wins, and had tomato and peas in it.
Barely making a dent in the soups, the Kitchen Set Dinner arrived.
Our server came by and explained, “This represents an entire meal from appetizers to the entree to dessert.”
The appetizers included edamame, pork dumplings, and more kimchi. Options for entrees ranged from Chicken Teriyaki to Steamed Vegetable with Kungbao Sauce, and we had Coconut Shrimp (each is served with side of sticky rice). To finish it off, our dessert was fresh cantaloupe.
I was surprised to find the edamame was cold, but before I could decide if I was sad about that, the dumplings warmed me up.
Everything was so good and was, in fact, a full meal, so we were struggling by the time the Poke Bowl arrived. For those unfamiliar, poke is a dish from Hawaii that has grown in popularity that is raw fish tossed over rice and is topped with vegetables.
Our bowl had assorted tropical fish. The server said we could choose to tackle it in two ways: Mix everything up, or grab piece by piece with our discretion. There is also wasabi oil to add, since he said fish can be salty from being marinated in soy sauce. There was also a side of ginger and wasabi, and atop the meal was seaweed salad, spicy crab, and avocado.
It’s sad to admit we groaned by the time the Sex on the Beach Roll (fried shrimp, cucumber, cream cheese, topped with avocado and tuna) and Godzilla Roll (crab, shrimp, avocado, deep fried, served with chef’s special sauce) came out.
My tablemate stated genuinely, “Good thing this article is called Try It and not Finish It.”
The Godzilla Roll was served hot, and I’ll admit it was so big it was hard to fit in my small mouth, so I had to cut it up like a rookie. After I did, though, I was satisfied. The Sex on the Beach was my favorite and was served cold, and won for me because of the cream cheese.
We had a blast and ate more than we did on Thanksgiving Day. The atmosphere was super cozy and brought you into the owners’ culture, and the staff was beyond kind and walked us through anything, while also giving us tips. This will be a frequent stop when I’m in Spearfish to try more of their Encyclopedia-of-a-menu.
Co-owner Angel Dong talked about her husband and chef, DJ, and his passion for the perfect fish. “He will not use it if he doesn’t think it is the best quality,” she said. She’s not joking, either. Apparently they were closed for almost three days from him turning away fish for not being up to par when they arrived.
The space is actually quite large, and when you walk in you see there is another room to the left not being used and stairs that are blocked off going up. Perhaps if this keeps growing in popularity they have room to grow? I loved the Japanese décor, and the sushi bar was beautiful. And again… that giant, beautiful menu, though…
It’s pretty standard and what you would expect. The prices seem to hit about $14 a meal. The only thing I was a little caught off guard about were the sushi two-pieces at $4.25 for an order of salmon (my go-to). Also, I just realized we got an order of that during our stop as well. Damn we were spoiled.
They got me to like kimchi! I don’t even know myself anymore. Every sauce is homemade, including their low-sodium soy sauce. The fish was so fresh, and the dumplings still give me warm goosebumps when I think about them. If I don’t have time to sit and eat, I will be stopping by for more Bobo Tea.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Average Price Per Meal: $—$10 & under; $$—$20 & under; $$$—$30 & under; $$$$—over $30 | Taste ++++
It's The Facts
Open tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., and sunday 12-7 p.m.
New to sushi? The menu literally explains everything from what Fuji San is to what is a Poke Burrito.
If you’re craving Boba Tea, you can swing in and grab one at their Boba Tea bar a.k.a. the front desk.