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Asian desserts don't translate too well in the West, so Mikado wisely offers only fresh fruit or green-tea ice cream. The latter doesn't taste like anything Ben & Jerry's will be marketing soon. It's served plain and tempura-style, with a light crust and strawberry sauce. I'd call it weirdly effective. A generation ago, Japanese cars began to catch on with the American public. Maybe history is ready to repeat itself, but this time with food, not autos. If Mikado is any indication, consumer satisfaction should be just as high. Sushi on Shea, 7000 East Shea, Scottsdale, 483-7799. Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 11 p.m.
The satisfaction index at Sushi on Shea reaches high levels, too. It's not surprising: Fred Yamada oversees the food operation. He moved here from Yamakasa, where he ran possibly the best sushi parlor in town.
Judging from the young, energetic crowd teeming around the L-shaped sushi bar, he seems to have lured many of his followers over with him. Be prepared to cruise the 15-seat counter for a while if you're looking for a couple of seats together, especially at prime dining hours. Otherwise, you can wander over to the small bar and nurse a Kirin until the area thins out.
7000 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Region: North Scottsdale
Along with sushi lovers, Yamada also seems to have brought over Yamakasa's menu--the two places offer almost identical main-dish lists. It will be interesting to see if the number of Japanese food fans has swelled enough to support both Yamakasa and Sushi on Shea, located only a couple of miles apart on Shea Boulevard in north Scottsdale.
Like many Valley Japanese restaurants, Sushi on Shea sports an aquatic theme. Two big aquariums furnish a subliminal message about the freshness of the fish. Dark-blue ceilings, blue sconces on the walls and blue disks mounted over high-intensity hanging lights bolster the "under the sea" feeling. So do a quartet of prints, abstractly reminiscent of the sea.
The sushi here is first-rate. The staples--yellowtail tuna, eel, salmon and crab--are good enough to make you forget that the Valley is hundreds of miles from the ocean. The sweet shrimp sushi, ama ebi, is a good choice if you're ready for a little adventure. Along with the shrimp meat topping the oblong mound of vinegared sushi rice, you also get a plate of shrimp heads, fried to a pleasing crunch. The tempura appetizer, however, is unexceptional, a bit too thickly battered and oily-textured for my taste.
Like Mikado, Sushi on Shea features one-pot nabemono dishes. But here you don't have to find someone to share them with--the servers will cook up a single order. They're enjoyable, but they aren't quite in the same league as Mikado's versions. The raw ingredients for the yosenabe (seafood hot pot), for example, aren't nearly so deftly arranged. They also aren't as varied and plentiful--a bit short in the exotic mushroom and seafood departments. The sukiyaki, prepared in a fragrant, sweet soy broth, is a better option. It's got a good portion of beef, and lots of scallions, rice noodles and tofu. After everything has been cooked, dip the ingredients into the small bowl of beaten raw egg. The heat congeals the egg and furnishes a succulent coating for each mouthful. At $15.50, this dish provides a taste of Japan that won't set off alarm bells at MasterCard headquarters. The more familiar entrees provide the best combination of taste and value. Neither the price nor the taste of the pork katsu should unnerve squeamish Americans. It's a popular, workers' dish, a breaded-and-fried pork cutlet sliced into bite-size nuggets. What gives this appealing dish its distinctive Japanese cast is the sauce that accompanies it, a thick, pungent blend of Worcestershire, soy and fruit.
Chicken teriyaki is equally accessible to American palates. This is what you might feed the one member of your group whom you had to drag here kicking and screaming. This platter features substantial amounts of charbroiled, sliced, boneless chicken breast and thigh, brushed with a light teriyaki glaze. Both the pork and chicken come with miso soup, salad, rice and tea. Sushi on Shea successfully aims to attract both novices and veterans of Japanese cuisine. Whatever your yens, they should be satisfied here.