Izumi

440 N. Wantagh Ave. Bethpage, NY 516-933-7225

(Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa)

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Type: Japanese, Asian Price range: $$ (Moderate) Description:

The sexy sushi bar at Izumi snakes along one side of the restaurant, a contemporary-chic spot where techno music throbs and the menu takes side trips all over Asia.

Hours: Lunch, Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Thursday, 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., Friday, 4:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday, 1 to 11 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 10 p.m. Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Accessible

Izumi in Bethpage (Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa)

 The sexy sushi bar at Izumi snakes along one side of the restaurant, a contemporary-chic spot where techno music throbs and the menu takes side trips all over Asia.

Relax. Despite its hip flourishes, Izumi is, at heart, a warm, welcoming, well-priced neighborhood Japanese place whose food will keep you coming back for more.

For starters, the "fantastic" roll (tuna, salmon, yellowtail and avocado topped with roe and bound together with lacy white seaweed) merits its name. A blackboard special, "crazy angel" roll, is a baroque but highly successful composition involving tempura-fried asparagus, spicy tuna and eel. Then, there's the ambitiously named sushi bar appetizer, "wow" tuna. Actually, it's very good - black peppered tuna drizzled with sweet chile sauce and served atop a crisp wonton skin. A spicy tuna tortilla turns out to be exactly what its appellation implies - chopped tuna in chile-spiked mayo atop a large toasted tortilla that's cut into wedges, like a pizza. A pretty and sprightly composition is the "chef's salad roll sunomono," thinly sliced cucumber rolled around crabmeat and tobiko in a sweet vinegar dressing. But while grilled squid with teriyaki sauce has nice flavor, its texture resembles rubber bands.

Instead of the conventional miso soup, I order "tasty mini wonton" soup, with nearly transparent-skinned little dumplings afloat in a savory broth. Clear mushroom soup, made with several kinds of mushrooms, has surprising depth of flavor.

No self-respecting modern Asian restaurant can get away without serving that Nobu classic, rock shrimp tempura. Here, the batter-fried shellfish, lightly glazed with spicy mayonnaise, works well, playing softness against crunch. I'm just as partial to another hot appetizer, hamachi Kama, grilled yellowtail collar served with ponzu sauce on the side.

There's enough to satisfy two people in the sushi and sashimi combination plate, a pristine assortment that includes tuna, salmon, red snapper and fluke, both over rice and naked, along with an exemplary California roll.

I find nuance as well as firepower in the spicy Malaysian chicken curry, a creamy dish that looks mild but packs a wallop. There's no shortage of ignition, either, in the Thai spicy shrimp. Even pad thai - a classic stir-fry of rice noodles, peanuts and vegetables - has a kick. General Tso's chicken, which plays sweet against piquant, is lighter than most. Chicken teriyaki is juicy and moist.

For dessert, there's fried banana, but I prefer mochi, the Japanese ice cream treat wrapped in rice dough. Like, Izumi, it's both cool and refreshing. -- Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 5/27/08.

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Izumi 440 N. Wantagh Ave., Bethpage

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