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Satsuma, Owner Geno Ganbro's Japanese on Norfolk and Del Ray Avenue in Bethesda


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This place opened a few months ago and I've become a big fan.

There's a sushi bar (sushi is decent but not the real star)and other Japanese dishes.

There's chawanmushi (an egg custard soup) that's very tasty, as well as delicious onigiri ($2), Japanese rice balls filled with either dried plum, seaweed, or grilled, salted salmon.

There's a separate room with 6 tables with grills built in for Japanese barbecue, Yakiniku. There's a choice of several types of meat (short rib, skirt, tongue, etc.) and I've tried most of them and was really impressed.

Please let me know who else has been there and what you thought.

Website is at:

www.satsuma-jp.com

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Azami and I went here for dinner last night with a couple of friends. For appetizers, we had edamame (pretty standard) and hiyayakko tofu (nicely chilled firm tofu served in soy sauce with shaved bonito and thinly sliced cucumber). One friend had salmon nigiri, and Azami had eel nigiri; he reports that the eel was good, but not great. For dinner, one friend had hot soba with spinach and aburaage (deep-fried tofu sheets), the other had the tempura appetizer and grilled squid, Azami had tonkatsu, and I had the tempura assortment. The tempura was remarkable for its light batter and non-greasiness, reminiscent of the better tempura we had in Japan. The tempura'd items themselves (four shrimp, an onion, a potato, some asparagus, and a broccoli floret) were just okay. Azami's tonkatsu was huge (two thin cutlets), and came with both potato salad and rice -- very Japanese. The soba was reportedly delicious. Overall, a decent dinner.

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anyone had their ramen recently and share some feeback? diverse opinions on yelp. judging from reviews there, it appears they started strong last fall (after ren's closed) and have since waned. thanks!

I went a couple times shortly after Ren's closed, and it was decent. Not as many additions offered as Ren's and the broth was not nearly as rich, but I thought it was good enough until Ren's found a new spot. Now that they have, I don't think I'll ever go back to Satsuma for Ramen. They're much better for yakiniku. The pork jowl is especially delicious -- I believe the menu called it the o-toro of yakiniku, which seems like a pretty accurate description.

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I was just there for lunch today. I had a ginger pork bento box, which included some very light tempura, a dumpling, and several salads (trad, edamame etc.) the pork itself was very flavorful -- possibly a little too salty, but I'm not big onsalt -- and tender, cooked with ginger, peppers, onions and zucchini. Rice and miso soup were included, so it was a lot of food, but all very tasty.

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Folks -- Not sure how many are aware of it, but there is a little restaurant at the corner of Norfolk and Del Ray in Bethesda has a pretty nice variety of decent food. For those of us who miss Ren's Ramen, they have a nice assortment of Ramen for lunch with four different broths. Nice Bento boxes as well. We also like the barbecue for dinner -- it is sort of a Japanese version of Korean barbecue in a second room in back. Nothing too fancy, but pleasant and all in all the best of the Japanese restaurants in Bethesda in my opinion. And no, I have nothing to do with them other than the fact that I like to eat there.

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Edited by goodeats
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I made an inauguaral visit to Ren's a few weeks ago and posted about it on the Ren's thread. A response to that post suggested also trying Satsuma. So I have.

Satsuma is one of those places that I might never have tried if it hadn't been suggested. The restaurant looks like the kind of place that's been occupying its site for 15 or more years. But, that'd be the wrong conclusion to draw based on first glance. They're only 4 years old.

In a nutshell, I think Ren's ramen is better for ramen given that's all they do. That said, I was surprised some by Satsuma and think it a worthwhile place to stop for Japanese if convenient/closer to wherever one might be.

On ramen, I can't compare directly since I ordered Shoyu at Ren's and the pork (tonkatsu) ramen at Satsuma.

That aside, the pork ramen at Satsuma is okay. The broth was a bit cloudy and, more importantly, not as fully flavored as Rens. Noodles seemed fresh with requisite firmness and a reasonable portion. Toppings were spartan with just a single small slice of pork, maybe a tbsp of seaweed and just half an egg. To be fair though, Ren's doesn't even include an egg and, even with the extra pork I ordered, the total for the ramen at Satsuma came to around just 13 bucks.

Also ordered some sashimi. Just hamachi and tamago. These were very generously portioned.

The hamachi came as 3 thick slices, rectangular with roughly one-inch dimensions along all three axis. Fish was fresh though I'd prefer more delicate slicing. Likewise, the tamago came as six large pieces; maybe each twice the volume of the hamachi. Quite the deal on these two items at $12 combined.

Nothing really wrong at all with Satsuma. Reasonably good quality at more reasonable prices than Ren's and conveniently located in north Bethesda. Probably not the fairest comparison to make since Satsuma has the broader, more typical, mid-range Japanese menu. Maybe more like a smaller scale, lower priced version of Tako Grill (also in Bethesda on Wisconsin for years) but with the ramen offerings.

If I want the best ramen around, I'd probably head to Ren's. For perfectly acceptable and decent-value Japanese with ramen options, Satsuma is a fine choice.

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There was a separate sign when posted about it in February.

Thanks for answering this, Bob Loblaw. Apologies to GoodEats. I missed the question directed to me but wouldn't have been able to answer it anyway since I didn't notice when there and haven't been back since the posted visit.

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We had dinner at Satsuma Saturday night after running an errand in downtown Bethesda. Seaweed salad was average. The fish (yellowtail & mackerel) on our nigiri was rather clumsily cut, and the sushi rice wasn't great. Miso ramen was a generous portion of noodles, but with wan broth and scant toppings. The +1 ordered spicy beef broth, which came with two hunks (literally) of tough, inedible beef, and a lot of whipped egg white mixed in. Not great, but only $4 so it was no great loss. We had planned to order more sushi, but what we got was so thoroughly meh that we asked for the check and went home.

Satsuma is literally across the street from my office, and it's not bad for an occasional quick lunch special. I doubt if I would come back for dinner.

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While I need to get to Ren's Ramen in Wheaton, I was wondering if anyone has been to the place in Bethesda called Satsuma. It says on the window (or above it) - Ramen Dan Dan. Anyone been or tied their ramen?

Satsuma is quite pleasant, I used to go when I worked in bethesda. If I were making a drive I'd probably prefer Ren's, but that is the whole axis of effort issue.

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Satsuma is quite pleasant, I used to go when I worked in bethesda. If I were making a drive I'd probably prefer Ren's, but that is the whole axis of effort issue.

Agree with turbogrrl. Satsuma is pleasant, fine, like several spots in Bethesda. Ren's is better in terms of what's in the bowl.

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