Shogun sushi starts slow, but sure to satisfy

Ever since seeing the “Fuji Japanese Steakhouse Coming Soon” sign on S. Duff this summer, I’ve been anticipating sushi with fiery enthusiasm. Sushi is uncommon in Ames for obvious reasons – but nonetheless, I figure a sushi restaurant, regardless of quality, is better than no sushi restaurant. Well, Fuji is still in the works, but in the meantime, a small complex near the west HyVee called Shogun Sushi Bar and Steakhouse has managed to emerge without much publicity. And boy, is it an interesting concept. As soon as I set foot in Shogun, I noticed a certain abnormal awkwardness in the architectural arrangement. There was no waiting area, and hungry guests stood in confusion, wondering what to do, as there was no host to accept them. To the right was a closed off section of three tables – I pondered its purpose. The surprising open kitchen didn’t contribute to a sushi place atmosphere; it’s not a diner, after all. After about 25 minutes, three peppy college girls waiting before me went up to a bus boy and obnoxiously asked to be seated. This seemed to get the staff’s attention and my sister and I were promptly seated as well. I had to stare blankly at the menu for a few minutes before I realized that there were no descriptions next to the names of the rolls. Now, what kind of a restaurant doesn’t have a brief explanation of entrees? I knew what a Philly roll was, what about the Spider, Rainbow, Oshinko or the house specialty Shogun rolls? I’m not a sushi expert, and I’m sure the other 12 or so parties there weren’t either. However, I picked the Philly anyhow. Since it is so common, it determines the standards for the restaurant. If they can’t get the basics right, then there is not much else to look up to. After ordering from the one and only waitress, she told us it would be about 25 minutes. I was worked up over the food; my months of waiting were almost over. Plus, there were actual Asians eating there, so I took that as a good sign. Unfortunately, after 25 minutes there was no trace of even the edamame, our appetizer. Forty-five minutes. One hour. “Cut them some slack,” my sister said to me, “they just opened a business.” While I was a bit sympathetic, that was not my job. In today’s highly competitive world of supply and demand, the businesses that fall behind and don’t meet expectations simply do not survive and get thrown out of the game. So I waited. After an hour and a half, I went up to the waitress and shyly asked why we still hadn’t gotten our edamame. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said and rushed to the kitchen. A short couple of minutes later, the edamame was brought out to us. Hmm, that’s a little odd. It’s almost as if she forgot we were there… My beloved sushi finally came. After two hours and many more of hunger, my vision had begun to blur and it was hard to concentrate. The Shogun specialty, although cooked, was delicious and spicy – the way I like all my food to be. The Philly roll also met my standards, but oddly enough I had a tough time telling the difference between the oshinko and spider rolls, as they were two novelties new to me. A sushi bar is a great concept, but if you aren’t prepared for hours upon hours of wait, then I would rethink it. Maybe the staff of Shogun Sushi Bar and Steakhouse will soon come to their senses and realize that customers are impatient, needy and hungry and will speed up their process of preparation. Then, I will gladly revisit. For now, I guess I have no choice but to lust for sushi in my dreams.