7 Nana

By Bernie Whitmore

Mine wasn’t an easy path to sushi appreciation. Even though I relished raw oysters and cherry stones, I considered them my cultural heritage and regarded raw finned fish as strictly off-limits.

But it was that appreciation for shellfish that paved the way for sushi. After all, I reasoned, if I loved raw oysters, why, why shouldn’t I love sushi? And in fact, it turns out that I did…and do! In particular, I find that the flavor and purity of sashimi possesses the essence of pristine oceanic depths.

The only remaining barrier? A decent outing for sushi would set me back close to a hundred bucks and soon after arriving home I’d be so hungry I’d slap together a PB&J. Enter 7 Nana with a better formula: good sushi quality + reasonable prices + righteous = Why didn’t someone think of it sooner?!

With that established, let’s get back to the beginning of the 7 Nana experience. 7 Nana represents some of the best in Shrewsbury Street dining. In the central lounge area they’ve installed a large curved bar surrounded by seating and wall of glass looking onto the street. At its end, given a commanding presence, is the sushi bar where several chefs focus on their art. All of this is crowned by a spiraling aurora of glowing blue light-rods.

To a great extent, 7 Nana is about high energy and drama with a variety of dining areas ready to provide distinctive experiences. From the entry area, I could see that the gleaming hibachi grill tables were loaded with parties getting their Benihana treatment. We asked to be seated at a regular table and were led through the lounge, past a cascading waterfall, and into a room that glowed deep-sea blue. The soundtrack, from Moby’s 18, receded as we approached our table.

As we awaited the fifth member of our party, I sipped a Kirin beer and scanned the extensive menu. Something about the blue lighting and new contact lenses made my eyes fatigued before I could explore the full range of sections and options. But no problem, I’d already checked the website and made my decisions.

Each of our meals came with soup and salad. Minutes after placing our orders, a crew arrived with bowls of crunchy lettuce topped with ginger dressing marked by a tinge of sweetness. We also shared an emerald-green seaweed salad, my personal favorite. Moments later, they returned with soup. Most miso soup is, in my opinion, bland. Not so at 7 Nana. Theirs was unusually flavorful and each spoonful revealed more tiny cubes of tofu.

Sushi steakhouses are known for dramatic presentation, but 7 Nana’s sushi chef redefined creative in his preparation of my entree, Nana Sashimi. A deep frosted bowl was heaped with crushed ice that mystically emitted a cool blue glow to simulate an exotic ocean bed. A lattice of twiggy fabric formed a backdrop along with a huge flat scallop shell and outrageously long driftwood sticks.

Some of the sashimi ~ such as Ahi tuna and buttery salmon ~ was presented in the traditional manner. But white fish was formed into flowers and fanciful designs, and I was most impressed with snow-white octopus fringed in deep crimson that had been sliced paper-thin and layered between razor-thin lemon slices: ceviche in seconds. This dish vastly exceeded my expectations; the quality of the seafood was flawless.

A friend ordered the Nana Sushi and was presented with a much more traditional dish consisting of a sampling of California rolls and the chef’s selection of sushi. No one in our party ordered steak on this outing but in an earlier visit a fellow diner had ordered Bordelaise Beef and raved about it.

The companion seated across from me ordered 7 Nana’s Bento Dinner Box with shrimp and vegetable tempura. The jumbo shrimp and zucchini slices were battered with panko and fried crispy and light ~ long and fan-shaped. He reported the shrimp to be, “…huge and plentiful, very juicy.” Separate compartments contained slices of tuna roll and Gyoza (Japanese dumplings stuffed with tasty pork).

7 Nana is priced to make the sushi-steakhouse experience a regular event. But as a stunning backdrop for special occasions and celebrations, they’re really much more than simply “regular.”

7 Nana Japanese Steakhouse
60 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester
508-755-8888
www.7nanasteakhouseworcester.com