Anaba, 131 South Gay Street, Knoxville, March, 2019
Don’t do this at home! Of course, you can’t because it involves the excellent new Japanese restaurant, Anaba, which Urban Woman and I enjoyed last night. It was our second consecutive night eating out at new Asian restaurants on Gay Street and we ordered entirely too much food simply in service to you, dear reader.
Anaba opened Monday at 131 South Gay Street, the recent home of Knox Mason, which has closed to move into a much larger restaurant in the Embassy Suites Hotel when it opens. The restaurant has two other locations, one on Northshore in west Knoxville and the other in Maryville.
The chef is Seisuke Fukuoka, whose proclaimed mission is to “bring real Japanese dishes to East Tennessee,” promising to deliver authentic Japanese dishes you won’t find anywhere else in east Tennessee. A quick read of the very extensive menu suggests this may be true. You’ll find the dinner menu here, the lunch menu here, the appetizer menu here and the sushi menu here. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Urban Woman and I decided upfront to order entirely too much food, sample and share a lot and take the rest home. The restaurant does not yet have its alcohol license, so that expense was spared. It’s apparently in the works, so you’ll soon be able to enjoy a nice wine with your food.
We started with a Bershire Pork Sausage ($8) served with a hot mustard sauce. It was good, but not something we’ll probably order again. For us it felt like a bit of an elevated hot dog without the bun. The picture shows four sausages, but that is because Urban Woman’s hunger grabbed her before we thought to make the photograph. It comes with five sausages.
I ordered as my main course, the Tonkotsu Ramen bowl ($9.50) which is, “A pork broth soup with stir fried pork, onions, green beans and mushrooms.” It is hardy and delicious and could easily serve as a meal on its own. The pork, beans and mushrooms were all very tasty and the beans had a nice crunch to complement the ramen. The last ramen I had was from a package and this helped me understand what the buzz was about.
For her main course, Urban Woman order the Chicken Rice Bowl ($12). It was served on a cute wooden, fish-shaped dish and included “chicken and vegetables marinated in teriyaki sauce. The chicken and rice were fine, but the vegetables were over-the-top delicious.
We also bought Panko Fried Oysters to share, but I wound up eating all those. They were delicious, but decidedly mildly cooked and that makes Urban Woman a little nervous. She want’s to know that her oysters are very, very well dead. I’m more flexible. Still, they had a good oyster flavor.
We also wanted to experience a bit of sushi as that is the thing many people rave about when discussing the restaurant. This is tricky if we are sharing because Urban Woman wants hers cooked. After requesting the “seafood boat,” from the menu and learning it isn’t currently offered at the downtown location, and at the suggestion of our waiter, we landed on the Happy Tummy Roll ($12 full roll, $8 half).
The dish is a “crunchy shrimp roll topped with marinated tempura shrimp with spicy mayo, eel sauce and scallions.” It was our favorite of everything we ordered, though it was all good. It may become my go-to when eating at Anaba.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, though the hours aren’t yet posted and our waiter was a little vague. It appears they will be similar to the other locations, meaning Monday through Thursday, 11:00 Am to 2:30 PM and 5:00 to 9:30 PM, Friday the same, but open until 10:00 PM, Saturday Noon to 10:00 PM and Sunday 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM.