Yasu Sushi Bistro

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4316 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix
602-787-9181

Yoshi Natori (of Yoshi's, a popular Japanese bowl restaurant) is the owner and Yasu Hashino is the chef at this terrific little gem, located in an unprepossessing strip mall on Cactus Road. Inside, the place is more sleek and sophisticated than you'd imagine, featuring a suspended bamboo ceiling over the foreshortened sushi bar, a small lounge with sofas and comfy chairs and walls hung with amorphous color photos of sea life. Everything here expresses Hashino's reach for excellence, including rustic dinnerware and premium sakes (some very rare). Natori wisely gives Hashino -- who's clearly a stickler for detail -- free rein, and the results are spectacular. Hashino makes all traditional Japanese sauces and flavorings from scratch, while importing Japanese oak charcoal for the grills he uses to cook many dishes subimiyaki-style. Sushi/sashimi standouts include hirame sashimi with ponzu, daikon and Japanese chile and rich tuna carpaccio, garnished with scallions, pecans, kaiware and ribbons of wasabi mayo. If you're adventurous, try the excellent ankimo (a pâté of monkfish liver) and if you're not, the gobo sticks, the shrimp fondue and the rib eye, prepared submiyaki-style. Honestly, you can't go wrong with ANYTHING here. Yasu is one of the best Japanese restaurants in the Valley. Save room for green tea tiramisu. Lunch M-F; Dinner M-Sa. $$-$$$