Damn, I missed the sushi.
During the pandemic, I learned to live without social gatherings, rock concerts, and out-of-state vacations, but I never really adjusted to life without white rice, seaweed wrappers, and soy sauce. .
It was a real treat last week when my wife, Susie, and I had dinner at Big Eye Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar. It was our first visit to the Fairlawn Restaurant and we had a great time.
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I felt a little guilty for suggesting the exit. Susie isn’t the biggest fan of seafood, raw or not, but the menu is full of tempting options and we both enjoyed our meals.
Big Eye is at 2965 W. Market St. along North Miller Road, tucked away behind Rite Aid in a mall that includes the Fairlawn BMV. I wanted to try it for years. We should have left long ago.
Places are limited while the restaurant continues to respect social distancing. Reservations are recommended, but we took a chance on a weeknight and were lucky to get the last table open.
The main dining room has nine neatly spaced wooden tables while the adjacent sushi bar offers another half dozen chairs.
Servers wear masks at all times. Staff strongly suggest customers wear masks when not eating.
The interior is inviting with modern decor that includes black walls, gray floors, exposed ceiling, track lights, and a nautical theme of boats, lighthouses, waves, and fish.
“I think it’s cute here,” Susie said.
Soft instrumental music played as we browsed the colorful menus. There were so many selections that I felt overwhelmed.
Soups include miso, tom yum shrimp, chicken tom yum, wonton, tofu, and lobster bisque. Appetizers include spring rolls, tempura shrimp, Rangoon crab, lettuce wraps, edamame, and soft-shell crab.
The drinks menu offers white wines, red wines, beers (Japanese and local), cocktails and more than a dozen cold sakes.
The kids’ menu is limited to crispy chicken fingers, fried fish and fried shrimp, so if your kids are picky eaters, you might consider hiring a babysitter for the evening.
The main menu offers everything from teriyaki dishes and curry dishes to stir-fries, drunken noodles, fried rice dinners and traditional Thai cuisine like pad thai.
Sushi a specialty in Fairlawn
And, of course, there’s sushi (cooked, seasoned, and cooled rice topped or wrapped around seafood, vegetables, or eggs) and sashimi (thinly sliced raw seafood served with soy sauce). . Among the exotic ingredients are eel, octopus, lobster, squid, crab, scallop, shrimp, tuna, salmon, red snapper, yellowtail, mackerel and eggs.
Sushi bar dinner entrees range from Unagi Don (grilled eel on sushi rice) for $17.95 to Love Boat for 4 (24 pieces of nigiri sushi, 18 pieces of sashimi with a regular maki and two special rolls with four miso soups and four house salads) for $109.95.
Usually I choose something simple like California rolls (crab, avocado and cucumber) or Philly rolls (smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber), but I wanted to try something different.
With our server, Sophia, offering helpful suggestions, I selected the eight-piece Kiss Roll ($13.75), made with spicy tuna, cucumber, and a crunchy roll with tuna and salmon on top, and the eight-piece Tuna Cado ($12.50), made with spicy tuna and albacore tuna roll with layered avocado and tobiko (flying fish roe).
My wife ordered a plate full of eels and octopus.
She chose the Peanut Chicken ($13.95), a grilled chicken dish served with mixed vegetables and peanut sauce.
Our main courses came with house salads made with iceberg lettuce, shredded cabbage, carrots and ginger vinaigrette.
“It’s spicy,” Susie said.
Simple yet tasty, the salad was a crisp and refreshing start to our meal.
The soup is hot and delicious
Her entree also came with miso soup, but Susie ordered a bowl of wonton soup for an extra $2.50.
“It’s really nice and warm,” she said. “This is delicious.”
Big Eye doesn’t skimp on its wonton, filled with seasoned pork, swimming in broth with chopped scallions.
Trying to maneuver a wonton on her spoon, Susie muttered, “Those are little slippery suckers.”
I ordered a bowl of lobster bisque ($8.95), which our server highly recommended. Made with a cream base, the rich, velvety soup was loaded with shredded Maine lobster. I savored every wonderful spoonful. When it was gone, I scraped the porcelain repeatedly in a valiant effort to extract every drop.
And then came the sushi, a beautiful arrangement that should have been on display at the Akron Museum of Art between Chuck Close’s “Linda” and Claes Oldenburg’s “Inverted Q.”
The Kiss Roll and Tuna Cado, a bright swirl of red, orange, green, pink and white, were so pretty I almost didn’t want to touch them.
Dinner with chopsticks
I’m sure I could have asked for a fork, but I was determined to eat with chopsticks. I dipped my sushi in soy sauce and alternated between wasabi and pickled ginger.
OK, I sometimes cheated with my other thumb, but the Big Eye staff didn’t point fingers or laugh, so I think I mostly succeeded.
Flavors exploded in my mouth: salty, sweet, salty. Good sized rolls, nicely wrapped, were quite scrumptious. If I had to pick a favorite between the two, I’d give the Kiss Roll a nod, but it was a close competition.
I methodically devoured each roll until only a few grains of soy-soaked rice remained.
Oh, the sushi. How I missed you.
Susie gasped a little when she saw his entrance.
“It really looks gorgeous,” she said.
Peanut sauce adds crunch
The peanut chicken was a kaleidoscope of red peppers, green peppers, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and zucchini with a bowl of white rice on the side.
She thought the chopped peanuts in the sauce gave the dish a nice crunch and made the tender chicken taste like chicken satay.
“But it has a little kick at the end,” she said.
While the menu lists the entree as spicy, our server assured Susie she could handle it. The more Susie ate, the more she acclimatized.
“It’s not too spicy,” she said. “This sauce is really good.”
She resumed her meal, munching on the lovely vegetables, but there was just too much food to finish.
“It’s really a big help,” she said. “That’s easily two meals, don’t you think?”
She ended up asking for a box to take the rest home.
We were way too full for dessert, but for the record, Big Eye serves coconut fried banana, cheesecake (strawberry, New York, turtle), mochi ice cream (green tea, mango, strawberry , red bean, vanilla) and regular ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry).
Our server, Sophia, was an absolute delight. She answered our questions, made suggestions and cracked jokes that made us laugh. We hope she will be waiting for us the next time we visit Big Eye.
With hot tea and a soft drink, our total bill came to $59.14, not including tip.
“See you next week,” Sophia joked as we left.
Maybe, Sophia. We really enjoyed ourselves.
Contact Mark J. Price at [email protected]
Restaurant: Japanese cuisine and Big Eye sushi bar
Address: 2965 W. Market Street, Fairlawn
Hours: From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday
Options: Dine in or take away
More information: Call 330-836-4433, email [email protected] or visit http://bigeyejapanese.com
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