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Congratulations, people of West Des Moines, the metro’s best sushi has made it to your backyard.

Wasabi, a sister restaurant to Wasabi Chi and Wasabi Tao (my personal favorite), is the newest addition to the retail center at 9500 University.

When my friend and I arrived on a recent weekday for dinner, the tables were all full (a great sign), so we took seats at the sushi bar. I highly recommend that seating choice if you like to see the sushi magicians at work. Plus, you get to see gads of beautifully plated fish make its way to diners.

We started our dinner with two appetizers. The pan fried pork dumplings (six for $5) had a nice sear and a tasty filling, which I actually would have liked a little more of. But we both complimented how light the dumplings were, a welcome change from some heavier-doughed version.

The ceviche ($12) was the real star. Tender pieces of salmon, albacore and octopus were brought alive by a zesty orange marinade. The best piece of octopus I’ve ever eaten remains at Miyabi 9, but Wasabi’s version is a very close second. Not a hint of rubbery toughness to be found. I’d come back just for this dish.

We were surprised in between appetizers and entrees to be handed a complimentary amuse bouche from a sushi chef: a perfect bite of decadent tuna belly.

Since Wasabi is the third in the restaurant group, I was happy to see the Signature Roll lineup was different than the other two locations. We split three for our entree: Jade Bunny (white tuna, avocado, cilantro topped with tuna, jalapeno and ponzu, $14); Mr. Miyagi Unagi (eel tempura, layers of spicy tuna and avocado on top with a sweet soy sauce and spicy mayo, $14); and at our server’s recommendation, Marilyn Monroll (spicy tuna, spicy salmon and avocado topped with seared white tuna and garlic sampai sauce, $14).

Eel is my favorite sushi choice, and I’d never had a tempura version, so the Miyagi Unagi immediately caught my eye. Eel is so delicate, I was pleasantly surprised that it held up in the roll and actually retained its umami flavor. The Jade Bunny was almost the total opposite, but in a great way. I think Wasabi’s restaurants have the best sashimi in the metro, and this roll offered a lesson in how raw fish should taste. The heat of the jalapeno was a perfect complement to the fresh, meaty white tuna. Perfect. We both thought the Monroll was good, but unremarkable compared with our other choices.

Don’t bypass the drink menu. My recommendation is the Yuzu Bellini ($8), which also is available at other Wasabi locations. It’s on the sweet side, made with yuzu nectar, peach liqueur, citrus vodka and homemade lemonade, but isn’t cloying. You could easily get carried away thinking you were drinking something without booze in it.

I’ll stick with my standby sushi joint, Wasabi Tao, since it’s close to home and work, but Wasabi’s new location is certainly worth the trip to West Des Moines.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annah Backstrom, Content Strategist for Politics, has been with the Register since 2012. Annah directs the Register's politics team. You can reach Annah at abackstrom@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @AnnahBackstrom.

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