Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Sushi, Sushi, Sushi... And Ramen

It was one of Milwaukee’s finer seasonal nights around dinner time when my boyfriend and I decided to go for a walk toward North Avenue to find a place to eat. We discussed what we were in the mood for and came to an agreement that something light and healthy would be nice - but also rich and flavorful. Suddenly, Kawa Ramen and Sushi caught our eye.

Located at 2321 N Murray Avenue, on Milwaukee’s East Side, Kawa Ramen and Sushi is a restaurant that specializes in Japanese cuisine; you can dine in, carry out or have it delivered. We chose to dine in that night.

The interior was very similar to how restaurants serving authentic cuisine in Japan are styled. Typically Japanese restaurants in Japan have a very modern, simple and clean feel to the inside. The walls aren’t usually decorated with much and the tables and chairs are typically either black or white and also portray very modern architecture. Kawa had this down to a “t”.

As we were greeted by the host, he asked if we would prefer a table or to sit at the bar. After looking around and seeing it was quite busy, we decided to choose the more low-key bar seating because it’s slightly sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant.

Think of a nice candle light dinner with you and your significant other, relaxing and enjoying the evening out. It’s been proven that most higher-end, elegant restaurants have dimmer lighting to portray that low candle light ambiance (TGAM). This is true with Kawa where the light was quite dim. I’m not usually a fan of dim light because it actually makes it really hard to read the menu. It didn’t help that the type on the menu is extremely small – they have so many options and variations; I guess they didn’t want a four page menu.

We were kindly greeted by the bartender who asked if we wanted something to drink. Justin ordered a beer and I ordered a large House Hot Sake. The Sake was as strong and delicious as ever and my nose could sense the hint of pear notes. After serving the beer, pouring a shot of sake and leaving the bottle, the bartender was very nice by advising me that the bottle was still very hot and to be careful.

After what seemed like 20 minutes of looking over the menu, we finally decided on what we wanted for dinner. Justin ordered the Sake Don ($17) and I ordered the Maki Platter ($20). All of the entrées from the Sushi bar come with a small salad and a cup of miso soup both served before your meal.

It is very common for almost all U.S. restaurants to serve either a soup or salad before your main course. However, in Japan this will never be the case (LATimes). Instead, the miso soup is served after the sushi as a way of helping to digest your meal. This is common in other cultures too, like the French who typically eat their salad after the main course. So that was one difference I noticed, and next time, I’ll ask for my miso soup to be served after my sushi.

The service was very prompt, especially for it being so busy – I was impressed. The hostess seated us immediately, we were greeted within minutes by the bartender, and the food came out within 10, maybe 15 minutes. Not only was the service prompt, but the bartender was  friendly and was always there to check on us, to see if everything was tasting alright or if we needed anything else.

After receiving our dishes, we were in awe of the presentation; they were like little works of art. My Maki Platter, option B (because Kawa offers two Maki Platters) consisted of three rolls: the California (crab, avocado, cucumber and tobiko), the Godzilla (tempura spicy tuna and avocado, topped with scallions, tobiko, spicy mayo and a sweet chili sauce), and the Shrimp Tempura (fried shrimp, avocado, cucumber, caviar, and eel sauce).

My absolute favorite was the Godzilla; it had everything I like in a sushi roll. I loved how the sushi roll was fried once put together and I loved how spicy it was. I didn’t even need the wasabi that came with the platter. I also liked that, because it was fried, the roll was still warm when served. The combination of the smooth spicy tuna and avocado worked great with the crunch of the fried coating and tobiko.

Each roll was sliced so that I could pick up a silver dollar sized portion and pop it in to my mouth. The ease and convenience were nice since I don’t know how to use chop sticks. Each sushi entrée is served with chopsticks, not silverware - unless you ask. I simply used my fingers. This does though stick with the traditional Japanese restaurants which serve chopsticks with sushi and offers forks and knives for other types of dishes.

Many people don’t realize that not all sushi is the same. For instance, my platter came with Uramaki. Uramaki is a type of sushi made by rolling seaweed around raw seafood and fresh ingredients, then surrounding the roll with rice. In Maki sushi, the rice and seaweed switch places; the rice is on the inside and is wrapped by the seaweed. Maybe they should have called my dish the Uramaki Platter instead.

Overall, the atmosphere, service and food were a pleasant delight. This is a restaurant that truly tries to align with the tradition of Japanese culture through the food they serve and the experience they hope to offer you at Kawa Ramen and Sushi.

On The Side

Restaurant: Kawa Ramen and Sushi

Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11:30 AM-10:00 PM, Friday: 11:30 AM-10:30 PM, Saturday: 11:30 AM-9:30 PM, Sunday: 12:30 PM-9:00 PM

Location: 2321 North Murray Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53211

Phone: (414) 800-7979

Cuisine Type: Japanese

Price Range: Appetizers: $4-$14; Rolls: $4-$14; Entrees: $11-$32, with two sharing plates priced at $54 and $76

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