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Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

NaNa Asian Fusion a Great Fit for Shorewood

Wide-ranging entrée and sushi options add variety

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Local restaurants continue to combine the food of many nations when it comes to Asian cuisine. Sushi bars have popped up in Chinese and Thai restaurants, and some places offer a little of everything. Add the recently opened NaNa Asian Fusion to this list.

NaNa is located in an area of Shorewood that continues to redevelop. The all-new interior features a front room with two bars, one for sushi and the other for drinks. The main dining room contrasts spacious tables with cozy booths. Tile floors with earth tones and walls with a golden hue complement the spare décor in this serene setting.

The menu is large. A Japanese section offers sushi and sashimi. Appetizers and entrees include options from China, Thailand, Malaysia and more.

Begin with a plate of mini spring rolls ($3) or duck pot-stickers ($7). The three tiny spring rolls come with a vegetable filling and sweet dipping sauce. The thin-wrapped pot-stickers arrive with the same sauce.

A separate listing offers appetizers from the sushi bar. NaNa's presentation of sunomono ($9) differs from the norm. Slices of sashimi are wrapped around matchstick-thin pieces of cucumber dressed with rice vinegar and soy sauce. The sashimi is an assortment of tuna, white tuna, salmon and snapper. Crab stick and a whole shrimp provide a garnish. It's a lot of variety at a friendly price.

Entrees take a very different approach. Half are listed in a “Wok n' Grill” category; the others are listed by sauce, followed by choices of meat or tofu. The sauces also add vegetables.

The Japanese eggplant garlic sauce has Szechuan flavors, adding carrot and red pepper to the mixture. It is delicious with fried tofu ($11), which gives it a firmer texture. The Szechuan peppercorn sauce is spicier, thanks to hot red pepper. The veggies here are onions, pea pods, green peppers and bamboo shoots, as well as jicama and asparagus, which are quite novel in a Chinese dish. The bold flavors of this sauce favor the beef ($13), ultra-tender pieces of flank steak.

The Malaysian curry is a delicate version tempered with coconut milk. This dish features red and green peppers, mushrooms, pea pods, eggplant and baby corn. Order this with the prawns ($15), which are some of the largest you will find in any local Asian restaurant. This is a delightful curry dish.

The “Wok n' Grill” section offers crispy sea scallop ($19), an impressive serving of eight jumbo scallops in a light batter circling a mesclun salad. The salad is undressed, but the serving plate has swatches of miso lime sauce. The scallops are covered in a sweet chili sauce.

The sushi and sashimi stay true to form even in the “Special” maki rolls. The nigiri sushi is sold a la carte ($3.50-$8-plus) or as combination plates ($14-$23). The raw nigiri sushis have slices of fish that barely fit on the rice, a relatively recent trend. Unagi is cooked freshwater eel that has a strip of seaweed holding it to the rice. The basic hand-roll maki sushis are inexpensive ($4.50-$6). The fantasy roll is filled with tuna and avocado and sprinkled with tobiko, the crunchy orange fish roe.

Sushi entrees include soup and salad. The salad is iceberg lettuce with ginger dressing. Among the soup options are a very appropriate miso, Thai tom yam that adds pineapple to shrimp soup, and a fine version of the Chinese vegetable hot and sour soup. Lunch is an excellent value. The Asian entrees run $7-$8.50 and sushi and sashimi lunches range from $11-$15. You can expect the place to be busy on weekend evenings, but the staff and kitchen are up to the task. NaNa's sushi and Asian fusion is an excellent fit for Shorewood, adding nice variety to the local dining scene