This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It's refreshing to see the popularity of authentic Asian cuisine growing in the Salt Lake Valley. With Sasa Kitchen's move to the former Piñon Market & Café location on 2000 East, the east side looks to welcome additional culinary diversity to the neighborhood without the hefty price tag of fine-dining establishments.
Diners will find nothing on Sasa Kitchen's two-page menu of Chinese and Japanese items over $10 making lunch or dinner here the perfect opportunity to branch out and try something unusual. Never enjoyed spicy beef and tongue ($6.35), pig ears ($6.35) or pickled chicken feet ($6.35) appetizers before? How about the pork intestine hot and sour noodles ($8) entree? It's all here, plus chicken gizzards ($5.35) and chicken hearts ($5.35), too.
Not quite that adventurous? Then start your meal with the seaweed salad appetizer ($5.35) that our server was sure to explain had little in common with the more familiar Japanese version. Instead, the drier and firmer seaweed is tossed in housemade chile oil in a serving that can easily feed four adults.
Pass on the mushy egg rolls ($4.35) and instead get the takoyaki, translated to octopus balls ($5.35) on the menu. These warm, bite-size globes of minced octopus, tempura, ginger and green onions, which are fried and topped with bonito flakes that fluttered as the heat rose off them, were memorable in taste and presentation.
Another standout on the appetizer menu was the green onion pancake ($2). Delivered fresh and hot with a crispy outer crunch and delicate flavors inside, this will be an add-on to every meal I partake of at Sasa Kitchen in the future.
In fact, Sasa Kitchen's menu offers so many appetizer variations that a larger group could make an excellent after-work gathering around multiple selections plus orders of sake and beer on the patio this fall.
If full-size entrees are desired, five soup choices are available: ramen, rice noodles, shaved noodles, hot and sour noodles and udon. Each delivers a different type of pasta submerged in the brothy depths of huge steaming bowls along with your choice of protein (lamb, roasted pork, pork chop, pork intestine, beef, spare ribs and seafood).
While both the ramen with roasted pork ($9) and udon with seafood ($8.50) broths lacked much of the nuanced flavors of other, more specialized establishments in Salt Lake, an assortment of chile oil, vinegar and soy sauce on the table allowed for customization of the dishes.
The shaved noodles with fall-off-the-bone spare ribs ($8.50) and beef rice noodles ($8) broths fared better in the umami category, and both suggested that carefully balanced flavors were possible from the kitchen.
As you wait for your order of boba tea ($4.50 small, $5.35 large) or a fruit smoothie ($4.50 small, $5.35 large), take in the remodeled interior of exposed beams, wood surfaces and panda pictures. You can mix up to two flavors of the 15 or so options although my first two choices were unavailable but the coconut was light and refreshing on a hot afternoon.
Sasa Kitchen is an exciting addition to this east-side neighborhood and looks to please Salt Lake diners with an appetite for culinary adventure.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.
Food • HHH
Mood • HHhj
Service • HH
Noise • bb
This casual eatery serves up inexpensive Chinese and Japanese appetizers and soups in a quiet, east-side Salt Lake City neighborhood.
Location • 2095 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-583-7888
Hours • Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $
Liquor • Beer and sake
Reservations • No
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • Yes