Sake rush and ‘buku bites’

Posted: February 28th, 2014 | Bars & Happy Hours, Featured, Food & Drink | No Comments

Sabuku Sushi
3027 Adams Ave. (Normal Heights)
Happy Hour: 4 to closing, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; plus 10 p.m. to closing on Fridays and Saturdays

Come on get happy! | By Dr. Ink

In a perfect world, bars and restaurants would appease day workers by extending their happy hours a little beyond 6 p.m., as we found at Sabuku Sushi in Normal Heights, which offers discounted sake and nibbles from 4 p.m. until closing on Monday through Wednesday. For the remainder of the week, you’ll need to get there before the clock strikes six. Otherwise, if you’re crawling the streets in the late evening on Fridays and Saturdays, happy hour resumes at 10 p.m.

“Buku bites” for $5 (Photo by Dr. Ink)

“Buku bites” for $5 (Photo by Dr. Ink)

Sabuku is a modern, slick sushi house known for its avant-garde cuisine and colorful sauces. Discounted samplings are available during happy hour, with medium-size portions priced from $5 to $8 per plate.

Rock Sake during happy hour is priced at $5 per glass. Brewed in Oregon, it’s considered a premium brand that supposedly uses spring water from the state’s coastal mountains.

We ordered the unfiltered version, which tasted crisp and light despite its milky, opaque appearance. In terms of alcohol content, it measures 15 percent — just low enough to tempt you into taking full gulps. But don’t because these are only three-ounce pours, and your palate will surely miss the super-faint melon and coconut notes on the finish.

White wine by the glass and a few Japanese beers, such as Kirin and Asahi, are also priced at $5. Select cocktails made with soju and sake are $7.

Unfiltered sake (Photo by Dr. Ink)

Unfiltered sake (Photo by Dr. Ink)

Sticking to the rice wine, we zeroed in on the $5 appetizers for sustenance. Among them were “buku bites” featuring a quartet of tempura-battered shitake mushrooms stuffed with spicy tuna, crab and cream cheese. Novel and sake-friendly, they’re served in a pond of jalapeno ponzu butter for extra kick.DrInkRatings

The “buku nachos” are a modern creation that would seem better washed down with beer, or anything carbonated in order to reset the palate between mouthfuls. A riot of different flavors emerged from these stacked wonton chips, which are topped with fresh ahi tuna, pico de gallo, guacamole and four sauces that included ginger aioli and sweet mandarin. Though easily polished off, it’s one of the zaniest appetizers you’ll find on a happy hour menu.

Other discounted dishes include gyoza, twice-baked mussels, ahi tacos and “shiso crazy rolls” that you can witness in the making by planting your caboose on a comfy chair at the sushi bar. And if you’re wondering about the translation of Sabuku, it means nothing. We were told a co-owner came up with it after a night of drinking.


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