Eat sushi. Live life. Be happy. This is the message buzzing through the videotape frenzy of a promotional clip for one of the more progressively designed and styled restaurants in the city. The place is Hello Sushi, and its take on the traditional Japanese sushi bar is anything but.
At both of her locations in Baton Rouge, owner Angela Finch has created a j-pop chic atmosphere worthy of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and complete with bold art-installation video screens, pink and blue arrows, fish silhouettes and manga-inspired cartoon characters. Creative rolls like the crawfish-and-asparagus-filled Orleans join classic nigiri, sashimi and noodle entrees, plus grilled standbys like a marinated 12-oz. Teriyaki steak.
Scroll down to find out what our secret diners thought of Hello Sushi.
Everything’s better with sauce.
Sushi Pizza ($9). You won’t find this dish anywhere else in town. The deep-fried rice patty had the perfect crunch, and the chef’s spin on a classic marinara sauce was delicious. Topped with snow crab, crawfish and spicy shrimp, this was one of the best dishes we had all night. As someone who is always on the lookout for tasty cooked options at sushi joints, I appreciated this hearty start to the meal.
Godzilla Roll ($11.50). Topped with a spicy sauce and sliced avocado, this barbecued-eel roll was yummy. The avocado gave it a smooth, creamy texture, and the eel sauce was delicious.
Sparkling Cosmopolitan Martini ($7). The hint of champagne helps this martini go down smooth.
Not my taste:
Gyoza Dumplings ($5). Generally, the words “pork” plus “fried” add up to “amazing” in my book, but this traditional Japanese dish simply wasn’t up to par. The pork filling needed more seasoning, as did the dipping sauce.
The bottom line:
This was not my favorite sushi experience in Baton Rouge. Although our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, he never asked if I wanted a second martini—which I would have gladly accepted! After hearing so many friends rave about Hello Sushi, I found the food just didn’t live up to my expectations.
With my Asian heritage, I’m always ready to roll.
Go-Go Roll ($7.50). Tuna and salmon are my go-to items when I have sushi. This roll, which also has avocado and snow crab, is one of my favorite rolls in town. This was a great combination of freshness, flavor and texture.
Beef Soba ($12). This is a rare menu item for sushi restaurants in Baton Rouge. The portion I received was definitely generous. I also got spices and nori on the side to add to taste—a must.
Not my taste:
Hello Sushi Roll ($12). Escolar, green onions, fiery sauce and salmon topped with pineapples and tobiko—I normally love all these ingredients, but in this combination, I was not really pleased. The sweetness of the pineapple and green onion was just a little odd for me.
Angry Charlie Roll ($6). This is Hello Sushi’s version of the must-have Spicy Tuna Roll, which, if you’ve ever had sushi, you’ve probably had. Although the cucumber added a nice texture, this version of the roll was not quite spicy enough. There wasn’t anything angry about it.
The bottom line:
The service and ambiance at Hello Sushi were very good. The waiter kept my cup of green tea full the entire meal. If you live on that side of town, I might recommend Hello Sushi for some of their unique menu items and entrees, but I was disappointed in some of the rolls.
Tradition doesn’t have to be boring.
Beef Tataki ($11). With tender strips of beef and just the right amount of spice, this Cajun twist on a traditional Japanese dish was my favorite of the evening. The red onions were so tangy and sweet that they could have easily passed for pickled. While I would have liked for the beef to be served a little more rare, this is a great dish to get your taste buds going.
Bomb Roll ($12.50). It is hard to go wrong with anything that involves tempura and eel sauce—the combination always makes for a sweet and crunchy roll. Adding the spice and refreshing cucumber made a pleasant balance. Of all the rolls my friends and I tried, this was definitely my favorite.
Not my taste:
Cucumber and Crab Stick Salad ($6). It’s all about getting the basics right. This salad should be sweet, tangy and refreshing, but all I tasted was dry cucumber. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t take the blandness.
The bottom line:
The great service was the best part of the meal. Our waiter was attentive and helpful without getting in the way. The food, however, left me wanting. There were too many instances where the basics just weren’t covered.
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