Sushi? Roanoke County’s Ben Gui has all the options. Lake dining at its best? The Landing, period. The perfect spot for the game and the game food in Blacksburg? Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill. And the sweets to top it all off? The Candy Store on the Roanoke City Market. Let’s go get full!
Note: The story below appears in our Nov./Dec. 2014 issue. For the full story download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
Photos by Jes Gearing
Clockwise from top left: Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill, The Landing, Ben Gui Sushi and The Candy Store.
Ben Gui Sushi
SUSHI IS A DELICATE SUBJECT. Yes, sushi can mean some kind of gussied up tempura roll drizzled with sweet eel sauce or mayo-based sauce, but for something a little more authentic and a little less clichéd, you need to trust your purveyor. For those on the hunt for fresh sashimi or simple sushi (by definition, sushi is simply vinegared rice combined with other ingredients like fish or vegetables), Ben Gui Sushi is the best place to go in Roanoke – and its fans agreed by voting it to the platinum award in “Best Sushi Restaurants.”
While there is an extensive menu of fancy “Trust Me Rolls” at Ben Gui (and if you do order from that menu, the Red Dragon Roll with tempura shrimp, eel, avocado, and masago or the Kim’s Favorite with white tuna and avocado topped with more white tuna, avocado, and caviar are two best bets), it’s more satisfying to stick to the basic sushi or sashimi and let the chefs work their magic. Sushi is about the elevation of simple, fresh ingredients, not the show of a million flavors and cooking styles and the chefs at Ben Gui have this ethos down to a T.
Served either as sashimi (just the fish) or sushi (with rice), the Tai (snapper), Saba (mackerel), Amaebi (sweet shrimp) or Tako (octopus) are always good options. For a simple roll, spicy tuna or even the basic avocado – no fish – are great to share. In the mood for a sweet, almost earthy fish? Try the Unagi (freshwater eel). And if picking your way through the menu offers too many decisions, leave it in the hands of the chef by ordering a sushi or sashimi assortment since you can’t go wrong with any option. Just beware of the all too adorable but hulking Sushi Boat – it’s able to serve far more than just two people (so bring a few friends, it’s worth it for the experience)!
Ben Gui Sushi, 4353 Starkey Road, 772-6888, BenGuiSushi.com
SOMETIMES YOU JUST WANT to get away from it all – away from the 9-5 to relax on a dock and eat a world-class meal. Thanks to The Landing at Smith Mountain Lake, one can do that in less than a 45-minute drive from Roanoke. Winner of “Best Smith Mountain Lake Restaurant” and a bronze finisher in “Worth an Hour in the Car,” The Landing surely could have competed in any other fine dining categories in the Roanoke area – and given these more local restaurants a run for their money.
Nestled in Bernard’s Landing, The Landing’s dining room and patio overlook Smith Mountain Lake, a beautiful view only intensified if you can snag a reservation during sunset. The deft waitstaff are attentive and uninvasive, the kitchen service with an easy flow from stovetop to tabletop. Menu items range from the familiar – Handcut Pittsburgh Filet with whipped potatoes or Fried Calamari – to the more fanciful, like Spicy Seared Ahi with a wasabi sauce or an heirloom tomato salad served stacked with in-house mozzarella.
Everything, though, reveals chef-owner Bruno Silva’s flair at developing rich, multi-layered flavors. The appetizer of mussels feature pungent Thai basil, lemongrass, and silky coconut, an entrée of Jambalaya Penne Pasta marries the traditional bayou dish with pasta in a spicy tomato sauce. Each dish features a slightly different take on a classic, something that makes every visit to the restaurant an exciting adventure and mini-vacation from the norm: It’s always smooth sailing from The Landing.
The Landing, 773 Ashmeade Rd., Moneta, 540-721-3028, thelandingsml.com