Photo by Tamzin Smith

A Little Shoreside Sushi on Kent Island Helps to

Break up the Summer Crabcake Marathon.

by Ann Levelle, November 2009

Don't get me wrong, I love a good crabcake. But sometimes my seafood needs wander outside of Chesapeake delicacies and I need sushi. One such sushi craving struck me recently while husband John and I were en route to Rock Hall, Md. And so, after reaching Love Point, we changed course and headed south to Kent Island and its convenient-to-boaters Asian fusion restaurant, Cafe Sado.

Once we were tied up snugly at Castle Harbor Marina we made the short walk to the restaurant from our slip. We stepped into the foyer where a small bar occupied the first floor. Then we followed our hostess up the bamboo stairs to another small lounge with a couch and amazingly comfortable barrel shaped stools--the seats of which were made with small dowels standing on their ends.

Then we made our way into the main dining room where the warmth of bamboo floors, dark wooden tables with wide round lampshades and soft lighting welcomed us. The booths had nice comfortable cushions on the seats and pillows for back rests. Copper chains hung from the beige brick walls. Candles and faux lemongrass plants adorned the tables. It was a warm, welcoming atmosphere with a decidedly Asian flair. Perfect.

We were seated in a corner booth with a view of the outdoor patio and Castle Harbor Marina. We ordered Kirin Ichiban beers from the tap and a small carafe of sake to share. The sake was dry and clean, a great flavor.

Our next adventure was to read the menu. No, it wasn't in Japanese, but because Cafe Sado is a fusion restaurant, its menu features Pan-Asian tapas, sushi, specialty rolls and a wide variety of entrees, so there are lots of options. While we sorted everything out we ordered two items off the Pan-Asian tapas menu--an eclectic list of world cultures, including items from Bhutanese MoMo (filet mignon tips in a steamed dumpling) to a chicken satay skewer to butternut squash dumplings.

We opted for Vietnamese egg rolls and a bit of edamame to nosh on. The egg rolls were light and crisp and filled with excellent vegetables, shrimp and pork and served with a Thai chili sauce. Not oily at all, John deemed them the freshest he'd ever had. After polishing off the egg rolls, we popped edamame beans in our mouths one by one while perusing the rest of the menu.

While the list of entrees was enticing--a seafood paella, Island red snapper steamed in a banana leaf, and a Kobe steak burger for example--it was sushi that I was really after. The menu listed 11 specialty rolls that were wildly inventive--we chose three to start. First up was the signature Sado Jumbo Roll, which was indeed jumbo and came with salmon, white tuna, avocado and mango salsa in a soy paper wrap. The mango gave a delightful sweet twist to the mild fishes. Then we tried the Volcano Roll: tuna, crabmeat and cucumber wrapped together and lightly fried in tempura batter--this was our only disappointment, as the spicy sauce that topped the roll had a slight barbecue flavor to it that didn't sit quite right. Our disappointment, though, was immediately dissapated by the Phoenix roll, which had lump crabmeat, cucumber and avocado inside and four kinds of fish roe plus lobster meat outside. It was tremendously flavorful.

After our roll course, we moved onto nigiri (bite-size pieces of fish atop sushi rice). We ordered the unagi (eel), maguro (tuna), white tuna, and red snapper. All were extremely fresh and tasty--the white tuna melting like butter in our mouths and the unagi warm and sweet. In fact, we liked all of our nigiri choices so much that we ordered another round of the same.

After a second bout with nigiri, our waiter reminded us that Cafe Sado has some excellent desserts that we might want to try. Because I'm a complete pushover when it comes to dessert, I obliged and ordered the Chocolate Temptation. It was a piece of chocolate cake served with a chocolate panna cotta mousse, chocolate sauce, orange segments and a strawberry. At first sight I thought we would be in immediate sugar shock, but surprisingly, this was not a sickeningly sweet dessert. The chocolate cake was flavorful but light, and the mousse creamy with only a mild chocolate flavor. It was a fantastic end to the meal. And a fantastic foray into non-Chesapeake eats.

Cafe Sado is located at 205 Tackle Circle in Chester, Md., next to Castle Harbor Marina. The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon-3 p.m.; and for dinner Tuesday-Saturday 5-10 p.m., Sunday 5-9 p.m. Tapas $6-$9; rolls $7-$12; nigiri $3-$5; entrees $10-$25. 410-604-1688;

[11.09 issue]