Dinner With Dan: Local spot is sushi heaven

Daniel Davis


372 West Lancaster Ave.

(610) 902-6135

Find yourself back at school craving delectable sushi in the Villanova vicinity? Osaka might be the cure. Located a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from campus, Osaka serves a nice and tasty assortment of sushi and Japanese food aimed at pleasing the customer.

Situated near Thai Pepper, Osaka is right off of Lancaster Avenue. Its exterior looks like your typical Japanese buffet: shoddy and a few alcoholic beverage neon signs. Do not allow this chicanery to expel you from the parking lot; the interior is much more rewarding.

A little more upscale than most Japanese restaurants on Lancaster, Osaka incorporates a fish tank, sushi bar, live crab and clam, private seating, and a romantic dining area where the seating is spacious. The inside nicely illuminates the sushi bar as the main seating area, while to the left side is the main dining hall, radiating an extremely flowing and tranquil ambience.

As a staccato Japanese tune plays overhead, you will most likely be greeted by the amicable chefs behind the sushi bar and a cluster of hostesses/waitresses awaiting your arrival. Once you pass the initial greeting delivered by several employees, you will be honored with a menu and seated in the main dining area.

The menu covers all of the basics and a few more with its innovative stabs at new sushi dishes to appeal to the commoner. You will find the fundamentals like miso and clear broth soup ($2) and brown and white rice ($1.50) at the beginning of the menu, but slightly below that are two intriguing items: quail egg($2) in tobiko (flying fish caviar) and flash-fried crab ($2 per). The quail egg is a raw egg, in tobiko wrapped by seaweed and, if nothing else, something you should try once in your lifetime. It is very similar to what you would imagine a normal raw egg would be, yet carries a little more taste and zing.

Our second item is a personal favorite of mine that I cannot help but order every time I go: flash fried soft shell crab. These lively little guys are as mobile as any living creature on a given day until the chef drops him in such scalding hot water that his life ceases to exist and he becomes edible. Enticed? Probably not as much as I was. In all fairness, it is no worse than eating a potato chip. The whole “eyes are still attached” thing is just an intimidation factor.

Ranging in the normal price range, most of the entrees and sushi are banal and expected findings for a Japanese eatery. Sashimi (raw fish, no rice/seaweed), anywhere from $3 – $9 per piece, is one of my personal favorites on the menu and comes in a variety of flavors (or fish, if you will). You can order anything from fluke and halibut to salmon and toro (my favorite – tuna belly).

Away from the scintillating sensations of sushi and raw fish, the entrees offered ($15 – $60) include chicken katsu (deep fried chicken accompanied by a lavish helping of vegetables), a meal for the fast-food crazed who are forced to eat healthy.

Or, you might prefer the incredibly eclectic soups ($10 – $18) such as nabeyaki udon (eggs, shiitake mushrooms, udon noodles, Chinese cabbage, shrimp, and a few other ingredients that I do not know how to explain).

So if you have caught the sushi bug since your return, take a trip down Lancaster to Osaka and flash fry some crabs, indulge in the seaweed salad, and unwind with the multifarious sushi assortments.