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The Foodie Column

Wasabi's in Pooler

Pooler’s very suburban population was a natural fit for franchise eats. Following quick–build fast food joints, the big venues — with huge portions and cheap prices — brought Poolerians to the table.

Now, as the market shakes out, more and more locally-owned restaurants are cropping up with ethnic flavors and made–to–order appeal. One of those is Wasabi Fusion, one of a group of family–owned Japanese fusion restaurants that dot Savannah.

This new location is inviting and comforting with its shades of green–painted walls, earth–toned tile floors and just enough seats to make this a viable business model. And, like its sister restaurant on MLK Blvd., this location’s sushi chefs are masterful at creating beautiful plates of rolled rice, fresh fish and vegetables.

Ms. TJ and I joined friends for dinner one chilly night last week and sampled a wide portion of the menu, from savory but austere mushroom soup to a simple teriyaki meal of steak and shrimp. In between I worked over the sushi menu with three selections.

Unagi (eel) nigiri is one of my favorites and this pair of rolls did not disappoint. I love the texture of eel and the smoky flavor of the sauce. The brown and white rolls were in nice contrast to a pair of crimson masago (smelt roe) that popped with freshness and flavor.

My Dragon Roll (made with deep-fried soft shell crab) was a thing of beauty — and a far different interpretation of construction than I’ve seen from other sushi chefs. This brave dragon head jeered up at me from the plate and sacrificed an array of flavors and textures. This is what sushi is all about: Variety, color, design, freshness and above all, flavor.

Ms. TJ was equally satisfied with her vegetarian Green Roll of avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and a topping of kiwi fruit. The presentation was simple, but elegant and perfectly executed.

Service was pleasingly attentive and thorough. The small wine list is constructed to complement the menu without pretense or over-pricing. I enjoyed a glass of Chateau Ste. Michelle (Washington) Riesling with my meal. Its green apple notes and subtle sweetness married perfectly with the delicate sushi.

950 C Morgan’s Corner (near Lowe’s) Pooler, GA/450–0887/

Pour it black

Ipswich Oatmeal Stout garnered a well–deserved and usually elusive 100 points from the Adstrom brothers of beer–geek site This seven percent ABV beer pours as dark as a moonless night and delivers flavors ranging from bitter, toasted coffee beans to sweet chocolate. Available only in a 22 oz. bottle, the beer is finding its way onto local retail shelves and some bar lists. It’s a creamy mouthful of deliciousness.

For something completely different but equally dark and foreboding, try 21st Amendment 6.8 percent ABV Back in Black Ale. In the glass, it’s as black as the inside of a coal miners lunchbox but carries a decidedly hoppy, nearly IPA flavor.

Yeah, you’ll pick up some roasty notes — a natural occurrence that comes from roasting malts to achieve color. This is dark beer for people who don’t think they like dark beer but love an IPA.