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'Pleasure yourself' with sushi

KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Business sophomore Justin Masunaga makes a plate of tuna tataki at Ra Sushi, 2905 E. Skyline Drive. Ra opened in November and draws people in on Sunday for its happy hour.
By Sofee Beer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 29, 2004
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Sushi in Tucson once meant a drunken night at Yuki's karaoke on Friday night, but now that Ra Sushi is open, sharing a cul-de-sac with North in the new La Encantada mall, Japanese food can once again be added into our chic list of places to take our parents when they're in town. In my case, it was a lovely place to dine out on a Tuesday night with my boyfriend.

Ra has a designated happy hour (or rather happy three hours) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, where they offer food and drink specials. If you want to try some of their appetizers and sushi while having a few drinks with some friends, it's not a bad place to go. I went at 8:30 p.m., and the place was pretty empty. More importantly, the food and service were both wonderful.

Our waitress was wearing a shirt that read "Pleasure Yourself," one of many clever shirts Ra offers. My favorite is "Where Iron Chef Meets Girls Gone Wild." Since I am a vegetarian, she recommended that I try the pineapple cheese wontons ($6.25). These wontons are filled with cream cheese, scallions and pineapple, and served with a roasted pineapple dipping sauce. They were good, but not what I expected. I could not taste the pineapple at all. My boyfriend stuck with the smoked plum spare ribs ($7.75). At first, he was disappointed they weren't messy like the ones at P.F. Chang's, but their taste more than made up for it. We then each ordered a salad - I had the seaweed salad ($4) and he had the octopus salad ($4), and we enjoyed them very much. They were simple and delicious.

As a main course, I ordered the "now and zen" tofu ($8.75). This wonderful combination of fried tofu and stir-fry vegetables in a ginger sauce is the perfect choice for a vegetarian. The portion is generous, so be prepared for leftovers. The one problem I had with this dish was that I asked for easy sauce, and it was still drenched.

My boyfriend ordered an array of sushi, including a Philadelphia roll ($4.75), fresh water eel nigiri ($4.75), tuna sashimi ($9), salmon sashimi ($8) and a Tootsie Roll ($6). He liked the sashimi and the Philadelphia Roll, but he thought the Tootsie Roll (which came highly recommended by our waitress) and the nigiri were just average.

The best part of the meal was the dessert. The waitress suggested the cinnamon tempura ice cream, but instead, we went with the peanut butter cheesecake ($5.50) and the fried banana with Kahlua ($5.50). Neither of us was disappointed with our decisions. The cheesecake had a delicious crust made of peanut butter cups. It was like eating a gourmet Reese's. No complaints here! Even better was the fried banana with Kahlua. The dessert is described as "chocolate-stuffed fried banana with Kahlua caramel sauce and chocolate ice cream." I highly recommend it. In a word, it was yummy.

We finished off the meal with some coffee ($2) and a naked fish martini ($6.50), which is a good choice if you are looking for a fruity, girly and tasty drink.

Ra is a wonderful place to take a date, your friends, your parents or even yourself. Your friends will love you if you bring them leftovers - I promise.

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