During the Edo Period, Japan isolated its mainland from foreign influences by building a dockside sushi bar and turning away all incoming ships for lack of reservations. Claim a seat with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Japanese fare and drinks at Wasabiya Japanese Cuisine. This Groupon is valid only during dinner, which starts at 5 p.m. Monday–Saturday.
Wasabiya’s kitchen savants arrange fresh vegetables and fish to create hundreds of savory combinations that the Courier-Journal called "the most innovative sushi dishes in the city" in 2010. The menu splits its sushi sovereign among raw, deep-fried, and oven-baked factions, introduced by classic appetizers such as pan-toasted pork and veggie gyoza ($4.95). Lobster rolls—chock full of lobster, crab, asparagus, and avocado—are plucked fresh from a sea of special sauce ($11.95), and chefs venture deep into a forest of cucumber, avocado, fried shrimp, and tuna to find the elusive Green Tiger ($9.95) and any wayward nerf balls. Nonrolled fare include grilled chicken teriyaki ($13.95) and shrimp tempura ($15.95), served as steamy as conversation after a few pours of imported beer, wine, and sake.
Hanging paper lanterns send soft waves of light over Wasabiya's light green walls, whose soothing effects complement the dining room's warm, glossy wooden tables and chairs. The spacious interior lends itself to comfortable eating among friends and measures out perfectly for restaurant-wide games of regulation flag football.
Wasabiya Japanese Cuisine
Head chefs Shawn and Henry Shin—who has been a chef since he was 19—curate Wasabiya Japanese Cuisine’s menu of traditional and contemporary Japanese food including more than 65 sushi rolls. Whether classically prepared, partially fried, or oven baked, each roll follows an inventive recipe. The New Orleans packs spicy crawfish and cucumber, and the Kentucky Derby unites spicy crab, shrimp, scallop, and cream sauce while 165,000 people watch you eat it. Wasabiya’s staff rounds out the menu with cooked entrees such steak sukiyaki and shrimp and vegetables battered in a light layer of tempura crunch.