IF DR. SUSHI IS, in fact, the doctor he claims to be, I get the feeling he's a general practitioner. The newest iteration of the old Sammy's space on NW 23rd, Dr. Sushi & BBQ is kind of like the utility infielder of East Asian cuisine. The menu is page after comically large page of Pacific Rim specialties: sushi, noodle dishes, rice bowls, bento boxes, Japanese-style hot pot, Korean BBQ... plus soups, salads, cocktails, shochu, sake, etc.
For those easily overwhelmed by a glut of choices—and I count myself among you—it's probably best to enter with an angle, some degree of intention, because the pressure's on immediately. "Where would you like to sit?" the server asks. Well, that depends, because if you're going with shabu-shabu, you'll want to sit at a hot pot table; if you'd like to cook up some bulgogi beef, you'll need a grill top; if you're just interested in sushi, maybe you'll want to sit at the bar and chat up the chef about what's fresh. Your maître d', take note, is working hard for her money.
If you're opting for BBQ, you can order your meats separately or choose one of the combo dishes aimed at groups. My party of three ordered the smallest of the five combos (ours was called "Joy," $49.95), which was more than enough food for three growing boys. If you're unfamiliar with Korean BBQ, a meal starts with banchan—a variety of small plates that serve as appetizers and palate cleansers. Ours came with kimchee, daikon, green salad with sesame dressing, and steamed egg. At some Korean restaurants the banchan ends up being the highlight of my meal; there was nothing wrong with Dr. Sushi's, but it wasn't particularly exciting either. The tofu soup, on the other hand, was spectacular. It was some variation on dubu jjigae, but a little bit spicier than what I remember from past experiences; the waiter wasn't particularly helpful with the ingredients, but I was able to gather that it was made with doenjang (a dried soybean paste) and fish sauce.
There's still plenty I'd like to sample—particularly the udon and shabu-shabu, considering how much I enjoyed the tofu soup. Specialization might make for a better business model, but Dr. Sushi seems like a safe bet for solid, moderately priced East Asian food, regardless of what you're craving. -TONY PEREZ
Dr. Sushi & BBQ
333 NW 23rd,
Hours: Mon-Thus 11:30am-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun 4-9pm
Barbecue/Southern, Asian, Japanese