For Your Dining Pleasure: House of Yoshida
House of Yoshida in Bethel has drawn a steady clientele through its doors for 14 years, where for the past ten years regulars and newcomers have found a warm welcome from staff and owner/operator Aki Arai, a native of Japan trained in the art of sushi and Japanese cuisine in Tokyo and America.A Sampling From The Menu:Soup: Consisting of a spicy broth full of chunks of salmon, shrimp, clams, and vegetables, Spicy Sea-food Soup is a favorite at House of Yoshida.Appetizer: The regular menu lists more than two dozen options, including soups, salads, seafood, and vegetable appetizers. Wasabi dumplings filled with pork and shrimp are favored by those who like a spicy challenge. Mini fish tacos are served with Asian slaw.Salad: Paper-thin slices of tuna or albacore are drizzled with a wasabi vinaigrette and spicy mayon-naise, in the best selling Tuna/Albacore Carpaccio Salad.Main Course: The Sushi and Sashimi Dinner is a popular menu item, giving diners the chef's choice of six pieces of sashimi (raw fish), five pieces of sushi (raw fish and rice), and one tuna roll. Japanese fon-due allows customers to cook their own raw chicken, fish, or vegetables in a savory broth.Weekly Specials: Weekly specials range from frog legs with escargot butter to pan-roasted halibut with leek butter to black cod with roasted zucchini, garlic miso butter, and white truffle oil. Special desserts and wines are also featured weekly.Catering: Party trays to go; onsite parties for up to 20 guests; offsite catering for any size party, all events, with consultation and full service available. Catering menus are tailored to each party. Advance notice is requested, particularly during a holiday season.Atmosphere: Dress-CasualPrice range: $9-$19 per person, lunch; $18-$35 per person, dinnerHouse of Yoshida, at 25 Grassy Plain Street, Bethel, is open Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10 pm (kitchen closes at 9:30 pm); Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 pm (kitchen closes at 10:30 pm). Call 203-798-8128 for reservations, catering information, or for takeout. Visit house- of -yoshida.com for full menu, or follow on Facebook or Instagram at House of Yoshida.
The small foyer opens into the sushi bar area, where ten seats welcome diners at a tastefully set faux granite bar. Watch as skillful chefs turn thin slices of raw fish and specially seasoned rice into artistic works of sushi or sashimi. A large flat screen television above the bar provides entertainment without overwhelming conversation. Along a half wall opposite the bar are tables, for those who prefer to spread out a bit while dining. A touch of whimsy comes from a blow-up shark hovering over these tables.
A few steps past the sushi bar are two private party rooms, one seating four and one seating eight in a more traditional Japanese style. Cushions on tatami mats are set before low tables, with just enough space below for customers' legs. The main dining room is one step up from the restaurant's entryway, providing seating for 60, at tables set with cloth napkins and chopsticks resting on ceramic holders. Soft lighting provides a calming ambiance to the space, and décor that includes Japanese prints and artifacts lends a subtle Eastern sensibility. A broad window at one end of the room lets in natural light, looking out onto bustling Grassy Plain Street.
House of Yoshida is dedicated to authentic Japanese cuisine, and is best known for its sushi and sashimi. It is also known for Chef Arai's successful fusion of Japanese and European cuisine that marks this restaurant as one for diners seeking something beyond the stereotypical Japanese restaurant. Special appetizers like Brussels sprouts glazed with spicy honey miso, smoked king salmon with a dill aioli and mustard mashed potatoes, or a Japanese pumpkin squash soup are the kinds of meal starters that attract customers with an adventuresome palate.
"If you come here and eat sushi, it is almost as close as what you would eat in Japan. And yes," said Mr Arai, "I can serve traditional Japanese cuisine, but I can serve more than that."
House of Yoshida offers a full bar; California and world wines complement the cuisine; domestic and imported beers, including Sapporo and Asahi Super Dry. Six types of sake (rice wine) on the menu include top-shelf Horin made from highly polished rice, and the sparkling Zipang sake.