Sorry that it has been so long since we’ve posted anything but I think that things are getting back to normal and we expect to get 1 or 2 posts a week this year. I have a back log of tasting notes, so look for several things to go up in the next couple of days.
First up was our most recent dining experience. Allison received a gift certificate for Ocean Star at christmas and last night we made the hike out to Ana Maria Island which is about 20 miles west of us. Of course, there is no real easy way to get there… you just have to deal with all gazillion red lights on highway 64.
We found the restaurant easily enough. It is located in a small shopping center, right off of the highway. Overall it is not a very large space but has ample seating at traditional tables, low Japanese tables (with cutouts to accomodate us westerners) or at the sushi bar itself. The decor is low key asian. When we first arrived there were just a handful of cars out front with only a few tables in use and a couple at the sushi bar. We were not immediately greeted by anyone, but as we wandered over to the sushi bar one of the wait staff came over and offered us the opportunity to sit where we liked.
In addition to sushi, Ocean Star offers a moderate menu of other Japanese cuisine including soups, appetizers and hot meals. While many things looked like they would be tasty, we had come mainly for the sushi and so only ordered some appetizers. I started with a cup of miso soup which was very tasty. Filled with traditional seaweed, tofu and scallion. I have had a lot of miso soup over the years and this was one of the best. Things were looking good.
Next up I had an order of shrimp shu mai, which came steamed as opposed to pan fried. The dumplings were extremely light and packed with flavor. The shrimp was diced but you could sense that these were very fresh. Allison chose to try the Japanese egg roll which was interesting but not our favorite. Overall all I think we enjoyed our appetizers.
For dinner we went with a selection of sashimi and makizushi (sushi rolls). Drawing from our list of favorites we selected tuna, salmon, salmon roe and octopus as well as a lobster roll and a volcano roll. The fish was very fresh and quite tasty but the portions were tiny. The sashimi came in 3 pieces but these 3 were only equal to 1 or 2 pieces at most other sushi bars we have been to. The lobster roll was okay but there was for a roll that was nearly 2 inches across, it was mostly filler and very little lobster. The volcano roll was just not good at all. Basically it was a small (maybe a quarter of inch across) california roll with baked shrimp, crab and mayo dropped on top with a drop of sriracha sauce on top.
In that these were all small portions, we thought we might have a bit more but Allison could not decide on anything from the traditional menu and so I just ordered a couple of makizushi rolls to go — namely a spicy tuna roll and a “Green Bay” roll consisting of tuna, salmon, avocado and scallion. The spicy tuna roll was not that great… basically left over pieces of tuna wrapped with a touch of sriracha sauce. I have not yet tried the Green Bay roll but it really does not look all that appetizing either.
Our first impressions were that this could be a nice find. It was a smaller place that seems to have quite a few regular customers based on how many people seemed to be known to the staff last night. Unfortunately for us, the regulars got good service while we… did not. The food was tasty but certainly not inspired, and the portions were too small. I think if we would have doubled our order we might have been served as much as at other sushi restuarants. And the prices were very, very high for the amount of food. I would have been outraged had we not been eating on a gift certificate.
I do not think that we can recommend Ocean Star. We certainly will not be going back, and would not even if it were closer to us.