Although we whine and complain a lot about not having a car, there are lots of suburban restaurants easily accessed by public transportation. A friend of ours recently moved to Collingswood, so we made plans to take PATCO out to see her. Collingswood is a cute little town, but its proximity to the city ensures a thriving food scene. We decided to check out Sagami, a well-reviewed sushi restaurant. We couldn't recall the last time we'd had sushi and well... Philly doesn't have a whole lot of options in that category.
The unassuming beige building is somewhat inconveniently located on a divided highway- miss it and you're in for a few minutes of rerouting (or just walk from the PATCO stop- about a mile and a half). Parking is at a premium, but we grabbed one of the last spots behind the building. We were seated in a "traditionally" decorated room complete with paper lanterns and Maneki Neko sculptures. Of course, the meal started out with a steaming pot of tea- a pleasant mild green tea that was frequently refreshed. We went through several pots of it throughout our meal.
Although a variety sashimi and sushi rolls are obvious menu offerings, there are also numerous appetizers and entrees available. We started out with a few cold apps- the Hiyashi Wakame (spicy mixed seaweed, $3.50) was our favorite. A small bowl was heaped with seaweed of varying shades of green, lightly tinted with a chili-flaked dressing that didn't amount to a significant amount of spice. This would be a great "intro to seaweed" dish for a hesitant diner- nothing too exotic.
Source Our pic was a little blurry but.. it looked like this.
Another simple appetizer is the Oshinko (pickles, $2)- a compilation of crunchy, mildly vinegar-y vegetables including daikon, cucumber, and cabbage. Nothing exciting, but a cheap little bowl of munchies.
Keeping with the simple theme, the Zaru Soba (cold buckwheat noodles, $6) came in a pretty pile atop a bamboo tray (this is actually the "zaru"), neatly spinkled with dried seaweed and served with a cup of thin sauce. This was another traditional Japanese component- a mixture of mushroom broth, soy sauce, and sweet rice wine. The sweet and salty soup imparted its flavor onto the firm, nutty soba noodles. We were also offered a small plate of green onions and wasabi as sauce "mix-ins" to personalize it according to your flavor preferences.
Opting for more of an adventurous appetizer, the Nashu Shigiyaki (pan fried eggplant with chicken miso paste, $9) was a fun and delicious choice. A thick slab of eggplant serves as a base to the dish- cooked until soft with a melt-in-your-mouth crispy outer skin. Eggplant itself has a pretty neutral flavor, so here it really acted as a textural component to the chunky (thanks to the ground chicken) sauce- surprisingly sweet and a little on the greasy side, a lethal combination that was incredibly addicting. I could have ordered another of these for dessert.
A & I played it safe in our fish selections, splitting two rolls and 4 pieces of sashimi. A tuna and avocado roll ($6) was served "inside-out", the leaner cut of fish and creamy avocado complementing each other in a combination of textures- nothing fancy but still extremely enjoyable. Cooked salmon complete with crispy skin was packed with crunchy cucumber in another roll ($4.50)- not as fun as raw fish but something a little different. Fried salmon skin is pretty delicious- wrap it up in some rice and dab it with wasabi and you've got a real winner. We recently had a commenter note that sashimi is the real way to judge a sushi restaraunt and we were quite pleased with the quality (and quantity) of our chunks of fish- tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and sea bass (ranging from $2.50 to $3.50 per peice). My favorite was the salmon- firm and silky and just the right amount of butter-y.
Our friend is a lot more experienced in the field of sashimi and had a few pieces of mackerel, octopus, and a bright orange blob of sea urchin roe that looked questionable.
After our little raw fish fest, we placed another order to extend our dinner (we had lots to catch up on). We all split the agedashi dofu ($6), large chunks of extremely smooth, creamy cold tofu smeared with a bit of sweet miso paste and served in another traditional meaty broth complete with tiny button mushrooms. The texture was unlike any other tofu I've ever tasted- like a cool, thick custard. Everything about the dish came together to create something much more extraordinary than tofu soup.
We also tried a few more pieces of sashimi- the eel was a standout in this group, a naturally rich, smoky-sweet meat that lends itself to being eaten alone.
I really enjoyed the more traditional aspect of this restaurant as compared with others "Japanese" places we've patroned. While the latter are usually heavy on the extravagant sushi roll concoctions, Sagami kept it sweet and simple with more of an emphasis on traditional appetizers and flavorful sashimi. We got to try a few things that we'd never been exposed to, which is always a highlight. Although our well-traveled friend didn't think it was the best sushi she'd ever had, even locally, it was certainly an enjoyable meal. Unfortunately, my desire for good sushi was reignited...
37 W Crescent Blvd