Northwest Herald

Mystery Diner in Lake in the Hills: Bistro Wasabi surprises with fresh flavors and cool atmosphere

A platter of sushi and maki, Sapporo Roll, made with a spicy blend of crab and shrimp; Cancun Roll, cooked shrimp, pico de gallo and avocado; Rainbow Roll, crab, avocado, cucumber, masago, yellowtail and raw salmon and tuna.

From their first step inside, diners entering Bistro Wasabi may feel they are not in a basic Lake in the Hills strip mall, but experiencing the vibe of a downtown, Asian-inspired bistro.

It’s apparent from the cool, dimmed lighting to the sushi bar where diners can enjoy their meals as they watch chefs create colorful and interesting Japanese-inspired dishes for others.

Asparagus Beef Rolls appetizer, thinly sliced New York strip steak wrapped around asparagus and bathed in sweet teryaki sauce.

On a recent visit, a friend and I enjoyed a few dishes including Asparagus Beef Rolls ($9/$16). These are exactly as named, with thinly sliced New York strip steak wrapped around asparagus, and they are delicious. Coated in a sweet teriyaki sauce, they are just the right, bite-sized, flavor-packed start to a meal. Available in small and large portions, they can be turned into a main course.

California Rolls, Kanikama, also known as imitation crab, avocado and cucumber.

I tried a California Roll ($7) made with kanikama, also known as imitation crab, avocado and cucumber. I am not very adventurous when it comes to seafood, but this for me was fresh and flavorful. What I really appreciated is that it was filling without making me feel stuffed.

Golden Shrimp appetizer, butterflied shrimp steam-grilled with golden sauce and served on garlic rice.

My friend ordered the Golden Shrimp appetizer ($14). This showcases butterflied, steam-grilled shrimp with golden sauce, served on garlic rice. My friend said this is “absolutely the best Golden Shrimp in comparison to any Japanese restaurant, because they place it atop a bed of rice cooked with roasted garlic and parsley. It’s just so fresh.”

A platter of sushi and maki, Sapporo Roll, made with a spicy blend of crab and shrimp; Cancun Roll, cooked shrimp, pico de gallo and avocado; Rainbow Roll, crab, avocado, cucumber, masago, yellowtail and raw salmon and tuna.

Next up is the main event: a platter of a variety of sushi and maki – pretty to look at and an experience to eat. My friend ordered a Sapporo Roll ($8), commenting it would be “a favorite for those who like a slightly spicy mixture of crab and shrimp; but don’t expect it to be real hot for those that like burning mouth.”

The Cancun Roll ($7) has cooked shrimp, “and it truly reminds me of something I ate in Cancun,” my companion said. It is made with shrimp, pico de gallo and avocado.

The Rainbow Roll ($17) is prepared with crab, avocado, cucumber, masago, yellowtail, and raw salmon and tuna. “This was as fresh as I’ve ever had, which is what you want at any sushi restaurant, as it is raw,” my friend said. “Everything was magnificent.”

Fried Rice, fried rice with an egg sunny side up on top.

We also ordered a dish of fried rice ($12) that was not like any other fried rice I have ever eaten. Very flavorful, it had kind of a sweetness to it, and came with a sunny-side-up egg on top. That was surprising and visually appetizing.

We, of course, began our visit with an order of warm, lightly salted edamame ($5), steamed soybeans, kind of like starting off a meal with warm bread but lighter, less filling. This starter also comes in a spicy, sauteed version seasoned with chili pepper ($6).

We ended our meal with traditional Japanese Mochi Ice Cream balls in assorted flavors, including strawberry and cookies and cream. This dish is an interesting one, with ice cream balls covered in soft and chewy mochi, a Japanese rice cake.

The restaurant also serves fully cooked entrees, such as teriyaki chicken ($18), New York steak (12-ounce at $34/16-ounce at $40) and rack of lamb (half $30/full $55).

Bistro Wasabi has two locations whose menus vary, and accepts reservations.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Bistro Wasabi

WHERE: 4590 W. Algonquin Road, Lake in the Hills, and 1578 W. Algonquin Road, Hoffman Estates

PHONE: 847-515-2700, 847-202-1577, respectively

INFORMATION: www.thebistrowasabi.com