Shoccu on Illinois Road.
Pot stickers at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Spider roll at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Tokyo Express roll at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
A tray of sushi at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Rocket Roll at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
Seaweed salad at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Tuna Lovers platter at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Maui roll at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
Tuna capaccio at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The open kitchen counter at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The octopus salad at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The stone bowl bibimbap at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
Beef bulgogi at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
The Thai Chili roll at Shoccu on Illinois Road.
Saturday, February 25, 2017 10:01 pm
Appetizers sure to please at Asian fusion spot
Ryan DuVall | Restaurant critic
I have no idea what Shoccu means.
It could be a name, but I could not find any indication of what language it is from or what is stands for other than it is a new Asian fusion restaurant on Illinois Road.
And after visiting the restaurant, I don’t really know what it stands for either. The menu is sushi-heavy with a lot of Korean influence and some Chinese sprinkled in here and there.
Though it is not a small-plate kind of place, I found the appetizers and some of the sushi to be the stars so you might want to treat it as such.
The best thing I had by far was the Tuna Carpaccio appetizer.
Slices of raw yellow fin were laid out in a pool of citrus yuzu sauce on a plate with a thin slice of radish and lemon atop them. The citrus zing combined with a touch of salty soy made this the kind of dish I could never grow tired of.
The Octopus Salad appetizer was also one of the best I have had.
I could order it and the carpaccio for myself and just call it a day.
The Seaweed Salad was just a step below, but still good. It was more savory than the carpaccio and octopus as sesame and soy provided most of the flavor to the hair-like strands of seaweed.
As good as all of those appetizers were, I was surprised at how mediocre the pot stickers were.
They were offered steamed or deep fried and I ordered the steamed but was served the deep fried. They were scant on filling and the dipping sauce was way too spicy.
The sushi was a mixed bag.
The Tokyo Express with eel, crab, cucumber and cooked asparagus on the inside and tuna and fried onions on top was my favorite.
It had an orange spicy mayonnaise and a red chili sauce on top that were not in the description, but they made it. The red sauce looked like Sriracha, but was not as spicy. The crunch of the onions, the funk of the eel and the sauce combination was great.
The Maui Roll with tempura shrimp, cream cheese and asparagus inside, and mango, almond slices, fresh avocado and unagi sauce outside was also tasty. The combination of the creamy cheese and avocado and the nutty flavor and crunch of the almonds in this warm roll really worked. Had the mango not been cooked, it might have been the best roll of all.
I had to try the Rocket Roll because it was garnished with Pop Rocks. Inside it had spicy crab, cucumber and avocado. I loved how this roll popped away in my mouth and took me back to my childhood, but that candy was a bit too sweet so I probably would not get it again.
The Thai Chili Roll was also way too sweet. It had crab, cucumber and avocado inside, and red snapper and Thai chili sauce outside. That sauce was a sticky sugar bomb and I struggled to add enough soy and wasabi to make it not taste like dessert.
The Spider Roll was the greatest disappointment. The menu stated it had "soft shell crab on top, cucumber." What I got was a basic California roll topped with a mashed up orange mixture that looked like cat food.
This "crab crunch," as my server called it, had tiny bits of crab and a bunch of crispy pieces of Asian breading or something. I was looking forward to savoring the crab and could not taste it at all.
The Tuna Lover sushi set looked impressive but failed in terms of execution. It had blue fin tuna, yellow fin tuna and "white tuna" as sashimi (plain slices) and nigiri style (atop sushi rice) and a California roll topped with yellow fin.
The plate was beautifully arranged, and the pieces of blue fin were delicious. However, all of the fish was cut way too thick and sliced rather poorly so some pieces looked torn.
When it came to the white tuna, for starters, there is no such thing as white tuna. It is a red flag whenever you see it on sushi menus. What I was served was a fatty, almost buttery white fish – likely oil fish, escolar or butter fish.
The sashimi slices were delicious, but the pieces covered in a garlic mayonnaise were warm as was the mayo. I was told they were seared, but there was no evidence of a sear.
They were awful, like warm tuna salad, and I nearly spit my first bite out onto my plate.
The Korean offerings were not worth trying.
The bulgogi – or bulgoki as it was spelled on the menu – was dry on the outside and inside. It had the right flavor but was not sauced well enough and the beef was tough, chewy and sub par.
My shrimp "bibimbap with hot stone bowl" looked better than it tasted with shrimp, cucumbers, yellow daikon radish, cabbage, carrots, celery, seaweed and a fried egg atop the rice.
But the rice did not get crispy enough in the bowl, and the plain vegetables added none of the flavor or heat kimchi would have added. The shrimp were also small.
Shoccu lacked impact as a whole. It is a snazzy looking place with cool drop ceilings embedded with speakers, globe-style lamps and attractive light wood.
The open kitchen sits along the right side of the restaurant. That setup does make for some awkward moments as the main walkway runs along that counter. More than once I – and a couple of other customers I noticed – had to stop abruptly as servers hurriedly spun around on their way to tables.
The servers were also not well trained. Their knowledge of the menu was limited and a few times mine had to go find someone to get answers for very basic questions.
During both visits plates were not brought with appetizers or with a large plate that held four sushi rolls obviously being shared by the table. One server also spilled beer onto the floor in that main walkway, covered it with a few bar napkins and left them there through my entire visit.
As I left, I wasn’t at all surprised to see a help-wanted flier in the foyer because Shoccu needs a lot of it.
Address: 9930 Illinois Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Carpaccio ($9.99), seaweed salad ($5.99), pot stickers ($5.99), Rocket Roll ($8.99), Spider Roll ($9.99), Maui roll ($11.99), Thai Chili Roll ($10.99), Tokyo Express Roll ($12.99), Tuna Lovers ($24.99), stone bowl bibimbap ($10.99), bulgogi ($12.99)
Rating breakdown: Food: * (3-star maximum); atmosphere: * (1 maximum), service: 0 (1 maximum)
Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at email@example.com; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.