The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

Sensu - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 27 July, 2008 23:35

Sensu is a Sushi Bar. Perhaps it should be referred to more appropriately as a Japanese restaurant, as they do have other items on their menu besides sushi -- mostly Japanese.

The first time I ate at Sensu was about three years ago. I ordered some sushi takeout from them for a little dinner date at someone´s house. Most recently I had ordered a big 30 piece sushi combo plate -- again via takeout, about 9 months ago. I was reasonably satisfied on both occasions. I wouldn´t have considered their prices a bargain, but as sushi tends to be on the expensive side regardless of where you go, the prices were not at all unreasonable, either.

But that was the past...

Today I went with a companion to actually eat dinner in the restaurant (at the location in Escazú). It is small, with only a few tables inside (at least downstairs). There is an upstairs area with a television, but I didn´t go up and see it. I don´t know if it is reserved for groups, or if it is open to whomever wishes to eat up there. There are also a number of tables outside. It had been overcast all day today, and wasn´t hot outside. But they hard the air conditioner cranked up inside the restaurant and it was rather cold when we walked in. It probably would have been more comfortable had we eaten at a table outside. The bamboo placemats at our table had some crusty spots on them. I saw several people leave the restaurant after finishing their meals, and the placemats were not cleared to be washed, nor were they replaced with new mats after every visitor. They were merely brushed off and put back on the table for the next visitor to use. It´s probably a good thing that as a rule Japonese food doesn´t tend to be bathed in sauce and isn´t extremely messy, because any major spills that you make will probably be there for the next person eating at that table to ¨enjoy¨.

After a quick look at the menu, I could see that they had raised their prices since the last time I had been. Maybe they did so to make up for the further recent devaluation of the colon against the dollar. In any case, I couldn´t get myself to order sushi at around 1500 colones PER PIECE (NOT per roll -- that would have been a bargain), which is what the price appeared to be on a number of the varieties on offer. So we ordered from the fusion menu.

My companion had a fried rice dish with sauteed mushrooms and tempurah fish and shrimp. I tasted her food and both the shrimp and the fish were pretty good. The rice was seasoned in a way that I didn´t find very appealing, but it was certainly edible. I ordered ¨pah thai¨ (notice the strange spelling). Pad Thai is a Thai noodle dish made with peanut sauce and usually vegetables or meat, or a combination of the two. This particular interpretation came with a few small pieces of vegetables, pieces of chicken breast, and about 7 good-sized shrimp. The dish had a nice presentation (as did that of my companion). My first bite of sweet pepper was actually a surprise for my mouth and quite enjoyable, but by the time I had eaten about 1/2 of my meal, or maybe slightly less than half, it was all I could do to keep eating. The flavor was extremely strong (which was probably why the first bite was so fascinating) and while enjoyable for a time, it became quite overpowering as the meal went on. The dish was also slightly spicy. I like spicy food, so that was not an issue for me, but the menu did not say anything about that, and had my companion, for example, by chance ordered what I ordered, she wouldn´t have been able to eat more than a couple of mouthfulls. Again, pad thai is a noodle dish served with peanut sauce. I could detect no peanut sauce flavor in this dish. Excuse me for saying so, but peanuts interspersed throughout the noodles and vegetables, etc. does not a peanut sauce make.  But perhaps the fault was mine for ordering Thai food at a non-Thai restaurant.

I had a beer and my companion had a watermelon smoothie. The price for our drinks and the meal described above was just over $35. In perspective, that is not exorbitant for a meal for two with beverages, especially considering that we both had dishes that included seafood. The larger sized shrimp that were part of our dishes are EXPENSIVE, even in the supermarket. That said, I´m not thrilled about paying $35 for a meal that I didn´t particularly enjoy. One of the benefits of living in Costa Rica is that things tend to be inexpensive here (as compared to Europe or North America), and restaurants are no exception. There are many places I can eat very well for less money, or much better for the same amount of money. A good example is El Terruño, which is also reviewed in this blog.

Service was normal, not especially good, nor particularly bad.

Overall I don´t recommend Sensu. I think you can do better for Sushi or Japanese food in general at other restaurants. Try Ichiban, for example. I have eaten executive lunches there and found them to be a bargain. There are plenty of other sushi restaurants around as well, and I would try any and all of them before returning to Sensu.


Note: Sensu is located in Escazu in Plaza Los Laureles, in Rohrmoser in Plaza Rohrmoser, in Curridabat in Plaza Freses, and in Plaza Real Cariari in Cariari.

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