Distilled Opinion checks out the bar at Wasabi Chi Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar

Wasabi Chi Asian Cuisine and Sushi Bar recently opened to extremely positive reviews. When I found myself in the area needing a quick bite to eat I dropped by to check it out. I remember visiting the building years ago when it was a very different sort of cavateli restaurant. It has been completely renovated and looks great inside. The style evokes an urban Japanese-style restaurant without the hackneyed themes a lot of Asian restaurants suffer from.

According the the web site, chef and owner, Jimmy Zheng, grew up in China but has worked in restaurants in Bangkok and New York. Executive Chef Kinto Izumiis a native of Tokyo, Japan, spent ten years learning his craft in a respected sushi bar in Tokyo and then went on to work as the head chef in sushi restaurants in England, Spain and Italy. We are lucky to have these two in Des Moines and it appears from the reaction and packed parking lot that they are appreciated.

Gekkeikan Sake

Sake Warmer

Wasabi Chi serves Gekkeikan sake prepared in a sake warming machine and served warm in a ceramic flask and cup ($3.75 for a small and $6.95 for a large). I asked about the warming machine and was told that it accepts what is essentially a wine box and runs the sake through a fast warmer. Gekkeikan Sake Company, Ltd. from Fushimi, Japan, has been brewing sake since 1637. This sake comes from Folsom, California where it is made from local California rice. This sake has 14.6% alcohol and tasted very smooth, almost oily, and the alcohol was nearly imperceptible. A wide variety of other sake drinks are also available, including both Momokawa Diamond Cold Sake and Moonstone Asian Pear Cold Sake at $5.95 per glass or $24.95 per bottle.
Because I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I sat at the bar. The bar is separated from the fairly small dining room and features an 75 bottle selection of different spirits, not bad for a small restaurant bar. The drink menu includes a number of unique specialty drinks for only $5.95 each. This is a real bargain given the classy look of the place. This would be a great place to meet with friends after work or after a movie, especially if some sushi would hit the late-night spot.

Wasabi Chi Sushi Rolls

For sushi, I ordered two rolls. Both were excellent. The rice was moist and the taste had some snap, if that is a way to describe it. The bartender was quick and friendly. I will definitely put Wasabi Chi on the top of my list of places to check out for dinner, especially given the lack of top quality restaurants in this part of Des Moines.

11:00AM – 10:00PM
11:00AM – 11.00PM
12 NOON – 10:000PM

Feng Shui Happy Hour Special
03:00PM – 05:30PM

Wasabi Chi
5418 Douglas Avenue,
Des Moines, IA 50310

Tel: 515-528-8246
Fax: 515-528-8251


3 thoughts on “Distilled Opinion checks out the bar at Wasabi Chi Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar

  1. You hit the nail on the head, we are lucky to have a place like this in Des Moines, let alone in that area of town, where restaurants have had a hard time staying in business.

    This is fairly close to home for us, and we have become regulars. Great people and really good food.

    One of my favorites in the mei fun from the Chinese portion of the menu. Thin, stir fried angel hair noodles with a light sauce, onions and peppers with your choice of protein. Simple and delicious.

    Also, the sushi is always a winner. The lettuce wraps are a great appetizer option, as well.

    • Thanks for the comment. A full dinner visit is definitely on the agenda. North Des Moines has had trouble keeping top quality restaurants and I’m not entirely sure why. Flying Mango, Radish, and Trostel’s are the only ones that come to mind, and only one of those is actually in Des Moines. Actually, any sort of restaurant outside of a chain or franchise has trouble there. Douglas Avenue in Urbandale, just south of the mall, is a wasteland of restaurant buildings that have been hollowed out and repurposed so many times it is hard to know what they started out as. Vic’s Tally Ho on Douglas and 56th was very successful back in its day (before my time in Des Moines), so I wonder if its the demographic shift at work here.

  2. Not sure, but it is definitely a trend.

    Anyway, it’s good to see them doing well. I hope they are around for a long time.

    Also, try and catch the Feng Shui happy hour to try some rolls and apps. The deals are really a steal. I think it is weekdays from 3-5 or some such thing.

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