What can I say? I like to try new foods. It also doesn't help that I have a soft spot for Japanese food too. Someone on this blog recommended San Sei Teriyaki, which is beside the Safeway on Lancaster. Its on the north end near Silverton road. Unfortunately, I didn't see the unagi (Eel) on the menu, which was the recommended item. Its possible there was an unagi roll on the sushi menu, but I guess I was looking for grilled unagi as I've never had it. Instead of asking about the dish, we decided on two of the daily specials. In retrospect, I really should have asked about the unagi.
San Sei is a smallish teriyaki place set in a strip mall. The strip mall itself was uninteresting, save the little European meat and food store a few doors down. Once inside the teriyaki restaurant, I noticed how nicely decorated it was. I really felt like I had entered a full fledged Japanese restaurant. It was a nice change from the sparse decor of Ichiban Ramen. My husband and I ordered the California roll special and the teriyaki chicken special at the counter. I was a little put off when told my special came with a canned Coke. I don't like Coke and will choose lemonade, iced tea or water from a soft drink machine. It was even worse when the girl at the counter tried to explain Coke was my only option and it was the same price no matter what. My husband's special came with a fountain drink of his choice. Why one special came with a can of Coke and the other came with a serve your self soda, we will never know. I ended up with a complimentary hot green tea instead, which was great.
When the food came out, we were both pleasantly surprised at the effort put into the plating. Plating and presentation is huge in Japan. My sushi came with three edamame and my husband's chicken came with sticky rice and a cabbage salad. As nice as it all looked, thats where the dream ended. My California roll was so-so. I've had a better roll from the Safeway deli counter. The rice wasn't very tasty and the filling was lacking interest. I was very glad for the dish for soy sauce and ample amount of wasabi to give the roll some taste. My husband's chicken was a total failure. I don't know if it was the time of day or day of the week, all we know is that the chicken was cold, rubbery, and tasted like the sauce had just been poured on, not used as a marinade. The sauce itself tasted like barbecue sauce mixed with a little soysauce.
I may go back sometime to find the unagi, but I will go at a time around noon or at night, not at 2pm. I may have been disappointed in the food this time, but the ambiance and presentation was enough to make me believe the taste could be better than our first taste revealed. I really don't know if my husband or I will ever try the teriyaki again. It just didn't taste like teriyaki to either of us. I wish we could take the good aspects of both San Sei and Ramen Ichiban, and put them together. We would have one heck of a Japanese place in Salem!
Sansei Sushi & Teriyaki
3284 Lancaster Dr NE
Salem, OR 97305