Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.
Cuisine: American, Sushi, Seafood, Steaks, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour
Locations: Mall of America, Edina (Galleria), St Louis Park (Shops at West End)
Addresses & Maps:
St Louis Park-1603 West End Blvd. St. Louis Park, MN 55416 952.933.6500
Hours: MOA- Lunch 11a-4p Dinner M-Sa 4p-10p Sun 4p-8p
Edina- Lunch 11a-4p Dinner M-Th 4-10p Fri-Sat 4-11p Sun 4-9p
St Louis Park- Lunch 11a-4p Dinner M-Th 4-10p Fri-Sat 4-11p Sun 4-9p
Atmosphere: The Mall of America location of Crave is on the 3rd floor of South Ave, across from Macy’s. The restaurant is large and spacious, with a large bar off to the left side near the entrance and a sushi bar centrally placed along the wall in the middle of the main dining room. Although the majority of seating is at tables throughout the dining room, there are also several high-backed booths that allow for more privacy. The lighting is dim and romantic, with mood lighting created by the illuminated art behind the sushi bar and the softly glowing candles at each table.
Menu: The menu changes seasonally and features natural, organic and locally grown ingredients. All beef is certified beef.
Appetizers on the new Fall Menu at Crave include Calamari, Chicken Satay, Lemon Garlic Wings, Pita & Spreads, Seared Scallops, Baked Crab & Artichoke Dip, Pesto Shrimp, Mini Burgers, Gingered Beef Eggrolls, Artisan Bread Basket, and Edamame.
Salads offered include Asian Noodle Salad, Atlantic Salmon, Steak Niçoise, Starter Crave Salad, Starter Caesar, Starter Roasted Beet & Walnut. Soups include Hearty Tomato Pesto, Roasted Chicken & Wild Rice, and Leek & Potato.
Pizzas and Flatbreads at Crave are also quite popular. Flatbread choices are the Roasted Chicken (with pesto, sun dried tomato and portobella mushrooms), Grape & Apple (with Amablu cheese and honey), Thai Chicken (a peanut sauce with cilantro, Asian cabbage and marinated cucumber), and the Napoleon (with garlic prosciutto). Pizzas include Pepperoni or Sausage, Margarita, Shaved Ribeye and the Chipotle BBQ Chicken.
Sandwiches on the dinner menu include Steak Sandwich, Ahi Tuna Steak and Crave Burger.
Pasta selections at Crave include Seas Scallop & Shrimp Fettuccine, Fettuccine & Roasted Mushrooms, Shrimp Scampi Al Fresco, Roasted Chicken and Penne, Baked Truffle Macaroni, Baked Cheese Penne, Spaghetti Pomodoro, and Ravioli Bolognese. Crave offers the option of a half-order of any of their pastas.
Crave has a nice selection of dinner entrees as well, such as the Grilled Petite Tender, Grilled Ribeye, Crab Crusted Filet Mignon, Tuscan New York Strip, Brined Pork Tenderloin, Chicken Stir-Fry, Crispy Half Chicken, Mango & Prawns, Grilled Ahi Tuna, Pistachio Crusted Salmon, Minnesota Walleye, Miso Glazed Sea Bass
The sushi selection at Crave is also pretty extensive. Nigiri and Sashimi offerings include Crispy Rice Bars with Spicy Tuna, Scallops Poppers, Amaebi (sweet raw shrimp), Hamachi (yellowtail), Hirame (flounder), Hokki-Gai (surf clam), Maguro (red tuna), Mutsu (escolar), Sake (salmon), Suzuki (striped sea bass), Ebi (cooked shrimp), Unagi (cooked eel), Masago (smelt roe), Tako (octopus), Tobiko (flying fish roe), Wasabi Tobiko, and Seaweed Salad.
Maki Sushi offerings are the Tekka (tuna), Sake (salmon), Negihama (yellowtail and scallions), Unagi (cooked eel), Kappa (cucumber), Spicy Shrimp Cones, Chipotle Ocean Roll, Keilani;s Roll (shrimp tempuraavocado, wrapped with eel), Mexican Roll (yellowfin and escolar with avocado, cilantro, jalapeños and spicy mayo), Number Nine (crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll), Dragon Wraps, Rainbow, Caterpillar, Spider, Veggie Roll, Tempura Roll, Spicy Tuna, California, Minnesota(cooked smoked walleye), Dynamite, Spicy Salmon, Crunchy Roll and Fire Roll. There are alsoa couple of sushi combos like the Sushi Sampler, Sushi Lunch Combo and Sashimi Lunch Combo.
Crave also has a delicious selection of desserts that changes seasonally. The Fall desserts at Crave include Golden Raisin Bread Pudding, Key Lime Pie, Molten Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, German Chocolate Cake, and Coconut White Cake. The dessert menu also includes a variety of after-dinner drinks such as the Girl Scout Cookie and Buttery Bailey’s, Ports and Dessert Wines, and hot cafe drinks.
Price guide: Appetizers $8-13 Salads $8-15 Pizza/Flatbreads $12-13 Pastas $14-24 Entrees $24-37 Nigiri/Sashimi $6-10/order Sushi Rolls $7-19/order
Happy Hour Specials:
What we ordered: My companion and I started with a couple of the Crave specialty cocktails, the Cranberry Smash and the Blueberry Lemonade. The Cranberry Smash was made with vodka, ginger ale, mint leaves and cranberry juice. The Opulent vodka revved up the drink but it wasn’t overly strong. The ginger ale gave it a pleasant sweetness that I wasn’t expecting, but the cranberries were tart enough to counter the sweetness. I loved that the cranberries were frozen into ice cubes and floated at the top. The Blueberry Lemonade was also very good and slightly sweeter than the Cranberry drink. Excellent blend of flavors.
The Pesto Shrimp appetizer came highly recommended by our server so we started with that. What a great start to a great night of food! The sauteed tiger shrimps were served
on little slices of crostini toast that had been topped with oven-dried tomato, and then the shrimp toast was covered with pistachio pesto. The shrimp was perfectly cooked so it was tender and complimented the crunch of the toast. The pesto sauce was creamy and rich, a perfect sauce to go with the shrimp.
The Panko-Crusted Scallops also sounded really good so we tried an order of those as well. These scallops may have been some of the best I have ever eaten! The scallops were large and coated with a layer of panko bread crumbs before being seared to a golden brown in the pan. They were cooked so that the meat was tender enough to melt in your mouth, yet the panko and seared edges gave it a nice crunch. The scallops were served with a dressy arrangement of picatta buerre blanc and fresh field greens. The butter and capers added the perfect touch of saltiness to compliment the sweetness of the scallop meat.
Sushi Chef Tony Lam brought us a special sampler platter that included a Mexican roll, ceviche, flying fish roe with quail egg wrapped in salmon, amaebi (sweet raw shrimp), crispy rice bars, prawn heads, and three different fish mixtures atop cucumber slices.
The Mexican roll (pictured top right in photo above) is Crave’s most popular roll and became my new
favorite after just one bite. This roll is the perfect marriage of
Mexican and Sushi, two of my most favorite foods. It had both yellow fin
tuna and escolar with avocado, cilantro, a slice of fresh jalapeño
and spicy mayo wrapped in rice and seaweed. It is then topped with a soy citrus sauce (ponzu), and
chili oil with fresh lime juice squeezed on top. It was so good! I
loved the spiciness of the jalapeño, and the lime and cilantro gave it a
fresh citrus twist. The tuna and the escolar inside the Mexican roll
were very tender and not at all fishy. Bravo!
The Crispy Rice Bars were also wonderful. The rice cake was like a thick chewy rice cracker and had a lot more flavor than ordinary sticky rice. It was topped with a heaping pile of spicy tuna mix, flying fish roe, and sliced jalapeno pepper. The combination of textures went together really well and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The ceviche was one of my favorite items that Sushi Chef Tony Lam made for us to try. A very thin slice of potato was fried with tempura batter and then topped with sliced raw fish that was marinated with a citrus soy sauce, scallions and fresh chili peppers. It was packed with flavor and the tenderness of the fish paired with the texture of the tempura potato went perfectly together.
The sushi was so good we ordered even more of Sushi Master Tony’s creations. Clockwise From Lower Left: The Mexican Roll, Fire Roll, Number Nine, Dragon Wrap (top right), Hokki and Hamachi Sashimi, and Scallop Poppers (pictured in photo after the one below)
The Number Nine was filled with pieces of shrimp
tempura, spicy mayo, kaiware and yama gobo wrapped with salmon and
avocado and topped with a sweet soy based sauce. The Fire Roll was filled with pieces of shrimp tempura, cucumber, kaiware and yama gobo wrapped with
a spicy salmon mix and topped with chili oil. This one was nice and spicy, just the way I like it. The Dragon Wraps were also good. Instead of rice, this roll is made with an egg omelet wrapped around spicy tuna,
fresh water eel, avocado, fried green onions, crunchy flakes and miso
dressing. Served in two big rolls. The Scallop Poppers were also excellent. The scallops were baked in spicy dynamite sauce then wrapped in salmon and topped with crunchy panko flakes. Loved the combination of flavors and textures.
For my entree I ordered the Crab Crusted Filet MIgnon. This was outstanding! The filet was thick and cooked medium, as I requested. It had a creamy crab and cheese mixture with just the slightest hint of buttery breadcrumbs baked on top and served on a bed of lobster cream sauce. This absolutely melted in my mouth. The crab and cheese together created a rich flavor that went slendidly with the tender and juicy beef. Herb roasted new potatoes and buttery seasoned baby carrots were also served, both were very good.
My companion had the Miso Seabass. The perfectly-cooked Korean miso sea bass was served atop a bed of steamed white rice and adorned with baby bok choy and a crimson ponzu sauce. Asian pickled cucumbers sat layered atop the fish. This dish was delicious as well! The flavorful yet mild sea bass went really well with the sweet, fruity panzu sauce.
Despite being extremely full after enjoying all of this delicious food, we also tried a sushi dessert. What an extraordinary creation this was! The middle of the the roll had homemade vanilla-bean cheesecake and a slice of fresh mango then wrapped with a thin layer of rice and topped with a thin slice of strawberry. The roll was arranged atop a drizzling of chocolate and vanilla sauce. The cheesecake and rice were such a unique combo of flavors and textures and together it was like a thick, fruity, creamy and sweet rice pudding. So different and so, so good!
Service: We had exceptional service at our first visit to Crave. The hostesses were very friendly and our server, Dawn, was very knowledgeable about the menu and had some wonderful suggestions about appetizers, entrees and cocktails too. We ordered a lot of food and took our time but never felt rushed since food was paced perfectly. The restaurant wasn’t too busy (nor was the Mall in general) on this pre-holiday-shopping-season Tuesday evening and we were able to get great customer service and attention from everyone all the way up to the manager.
Overall Impression: The culinary and sushi creations were outstanding. I tried quite a variety of foods and loved every single thing. The Mexican Roll should win an award! There is quite a variety on the menu and the Happy Hour specials are a really good deal. Great place to have a casual yet elegant dinner and worth every penny for the fine ingredients. The service was exceptional. I can’t wait to go back again soon!