Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tsunami: Saturday Night and No Reservations

We had just made a run to Petsmart. I was in the mood for seafood. It was still early on a Saturday night, around 5:45PM so Steve and I decided to hit McCormick and Schmicks at the Annapolis Mall for dinner. It’s my general policy not to blog about chain restaurants, but I have to say that I love McCormick and Schmicks and feel like they do a great job of presenting consistently fresh and well prepared seafood.

Steven pulled the car to the door and I ran in. The crowd of people were already choking the entry way and when I asked about a table, an hour and forty-five minutes wait was the reply. Oh well, they’re not THAT good.

So we headed toward Paul’s Homewood Café on West Ave in Annapolis. Recently renovated and just reopened, there is a lot of buzz about Paul’s right now. This time, we were smart and called for a table as we made our way.

They could take us at 8:30PM.

8:30PM? I would be dead from hunger by 8:30 PM.

Steven thought quickly and called Northwoods. They have a spectacular prix fixe menu for $35 per person that is seriously the best value in Annapolis.
No reservations?
Not tonight.

Dejected and forlorn we drove aimlessly down West Avenue trying to think of something, anything we could do for dinner. When stopped at a light, Steven glanced over at Tsunami and spied empty tables in their dining room. Like James Bond I jumped from the moving vehicle pushing small children and unsuspecting pedestrians out of my way to gain access to the restaurant’s front door. All of the tables were spoken for with future reservations, but the lounge area, including the bar was available on a first come first serve basis and yes the entire dinner menu available. The place was completely empty except for one other party, so we bellied-up to the bar and settled in for a fantastic meal.

Good thing we got there when we did, because, within a half hour the place was packed and by the time we left, customers were “jockeying” for our soon to be empty barstools.

Tsunami serves pan-Asian fusion cuisine in a very hip atmosphere. While the décor is hip and the music a little too loud, service is extremely friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Not affected in any way. We decided to have a combo of appetizers; sushi and salad instead full entrees.

We started with the shrimp and crab pot stickers. More of a fried dumpling than an actual pot sticker, they are filled with a crab and shrimp mousse and lightly fried, then served with a mango-chili sauce. They were light and tasty and a nice start to the meal.

That was followed by our salad. Spinach and Tatsoi salad with crushed cashews, strawberries and lightly dressed with Asian inspired vinaigrette.

It’s funny that I have never blogged about sushi before. Sushi is my absolute, all time favorite food, but for some reason I haven’t got around to blogging about it. I could eat sushi for breakfast lunch and dinner and then top off the evening with a late night sushi snack. I cannot say that Tsunami has the best sushi I have ever tasted, but I will say that they serve a very high quality sushi at stunningly good prices, making them, not necessarily a cheap indulgence, but certainly a great value. We enjoyed four rolls, with nothing over $10 and most of them priced between $4 and $8.

Finally, we finished the meal with one of the appetizer specials of the evening, sautéed calamari with chilies and smoked paprika. It was served over a bed of greens with grated beets and fresh ginger. Wow! What a kick. Each bite was like a little explosion of flavor that just kept coming up with more nuances and levels of heat. The dish was too much for Steven, who liked it at first, but had to stop. The squid was perfectly cooked, without even a hint of “rubberiness”. (I might add, too, that it is so nice to have an alternative to the ubiquitous fried calamari) I found it addicting.

It's almost suspect that we had never been in Tsunami before now. They have been open for a few years now and they really set a new tone for "Uptown" West Avenue when they opened. Now West Avenue has become THE place to be in Annapolis. Let the tourists eat at Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs; this is where the locals hang, even if they don’t have reservations.

51 West StAnnapolis, MD 21401
(410) 990-9868


Mick said...

I can't believe it took you so long to blog about sushi, Patrick! I have to say, the perseverance you all displayed in finding a dining establishment that evening is indeed impressive.

The shrimp and crab pot stickers served with the mango-chili sauce sound scrumptious. Yummy wummy!

By the way, you'll have to explain the difference between a pot sticker and a fried dumpling to me sometime -- I thought they were synonymous.

Patrick said...

Mick, essentially, you are correct. A pot-sticker gets its name from the way it is cooked. The dumpling is "fried" against the inside of a hot wok. It sticks to the pot and thus it is called pot-sticker.

They are, often, also called fried dumplings to distinguish them from the alternative means of cooking them, which, of course is steamed.

These dumplings were deep fried in oil. Which is not the same thing at all and not what one would expect from something called a pot-sticker.