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Roll Out the Red Carpet for the Winning Shrimp Tempura Roll

In this week's "Food Fight," we compare shrimp tempura rolls from three West County restaurants.

Shrimp tempura rolls are a guilty pleasure on sushi menus across West County, because deep-frying is part of the process. The roll can be made with the rice inside or outside and is filled with shrimp and most commonly slices of avocado and cucumber. The frying can come in the form of shrimp tempura inside or deep frying the entire roll. Tempura refers to seafood or vegetables that have been battered and fried. Shrimp tempura rolls have a sweet, savory and creamy taste and texture that is freshened by the cucumber, avocado and the usual accompaniments of pickled ginger and wasabi.

1066 Town and Country Crossing Dr., Town and Country

Wasabi Sushi Bar, the sixth of a chain of restaurants, has a modern flair. A steady stream of regulars filed in to pick up their orders, and every booth in the restaurant was full, which boded well for the meal ahead. The staff was friendly and attentive, creating a welcoming atmosphere. The tempura roll was generous and plump, filled with shrimp tempura and avocado and topped with panko crisps. Unfortunately, the roll was quite oily, but did have a bit of a bite from a squirt of spicy mayonnaise. The heat made it quite flavorful.

The good: The different flavors of the roll came through and created a flavorful piece of sushi. The panko crisps added texture. The roll was large and generous.
The bad: The roll was oily and detracted from the overall experience of the sushi.

Kabuki Sushi and Fusion 15015 Manchester Rd., Ballwin

This new restaurant in Ballwin brings lots of fresh, distinct flavors and textures. The small restaurant feels dark at first but becomes cozy and comfortable. The roll was served inside out with pieces of shrimp tempura inside along with cucumber matchsticks and avocado slices. The avocado was fresh and ripe. The shrimp was crisp, warm and freshly cooked, which indicated the sushi was made to order. The roll was lightly coated in fish roe and sesame seeds. Each component of the roll was seasoned, equally represented and quite delicious.

The good: The flavors were distinct and eloquent, making for a superb roll of sushi.
The bad: Two of the pieces of sushi had the tails still attached, making it hard to eat. This practice is for dramatic flair and is quite common in many sushi restaurants.

1682 Clarkson Rd., Chesterfield

The décor is quite striking at Fin, especially the stone wall behind the sushi bar. The flowers and natural elements create a peaceful atmosphere. For such a beautiful restaurant, however, the food was quite disappointing. I am not certain if this was the case because it was a to-go order, although it should not make a difference. The flavor of the roll was bland, and the texture was the same through out. The coating on the shrimp was mushy. The only part that stood out was the asparagus in the roll (in place of avocado), although fresh and crisp, it did not complement the shrimp tempura as well as the avocado.

The good: The décor and atmosphere of the restaurant was inviting and warm.
The bad: The flavor of the roll was bland, and the texture of the tempura was mushy. Other praised the restaurant and its chef, so I would be willing to try it again.

The winner: Kabuki Sushi and Fusion wins for its sparkling flavors and distinct textures.

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