Maguro mixes hot hibachi and sushi with cool atmosphere

The décor at Maguro is relaxing and urban, with lots of electric blue, which lends itself toward the myriad seafood choices the restaurant features.
KELLY MERRITT/ Special to the Daily News

The décor at Maguro is relaxing and urban, with lots of electric blue, which lends itself toward the myriad seafood choices the restaurant features. KELLY MERRITT/ Special to the Daily News

One of my favorite cuisine memories is from the early 1990s was when every week, while baby-sitting for a wealthy Upper East Side family, I had the luxury of getting sushi delivered for dinner.

I can't recall the name of the restaurant, but there was a roll I ordered every time. For 20 years now, I've been searching for a carbon copy of that roll. I found it and several other delights at Maguro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi at Wiggins Pass in North Naples.

When you walk into Maguro, the décor leaps out at you. It's pure New York City — they've somehow managed to make lots of electric blue lighting soothing and sexy. This can sometimes mean atmosphere trumps food, but at Maguro, the food and the atmosphere are equally matched. It wasn't a surprise that the owners are transplants from New York.

Maguro is part hibachi and part sushi bar. The flavor profiles within the abundance of eater-friendly sushi menu items are ideal. While much of the menu is most appropriate for American palates, it is a fun and tasty menu. Maguro is a great place for families, too; 9-year-olds were enjoying yellowtail sushi next to uber-foodie doctors fawning over their choices.

The hot kitchen appetizers feature the usual suspects — edamame ($5.50), beef negimaki ($8.95), shrimp tempura ($7.95) and gyoza (vegetable or pork dumplings, $6.25) with sesame ponzu sauce — but there are a few standouts that deserve special mention. One is the crispy duck roll ($8.95). It is prepared with shredded Peking duck, spring mix, avocado and a delicious sweet sauce that I found myself dragging the roll through to sop up every drop.

The shumai shrimp dumpling, ($6.25) and dipping sauce were delicious, but the only drawback was that the dipping sauce should have been hot — it was served to us cold. The grilled squid appetizer ($9.95) is a whole squid served with barbecue sauce. The sushi bar appetizers are also fun and marry some interesting flavors, such as yellowtail prepared with paper-thin slices of jalapeño ($11.95) and salmon and escolar ($12.95) with a yuzu soy sauce.

If you go

Maguro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi

Where: 895 Wiggins Pass Road, North Naples

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. dinner, Monday-Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sundays

Information: 239-591-0003

Sushi is never inexpensive for me because I want one of everything. But at Maguro, there are a few options that didn't break the bank. The largest sushi love boat is $99, and while estimated for four, it would easily feed six. The sashimi set, with 15 pieces of assorted fish at $23.95, rounds out to be about $1.60 per piece.

The rolls are on the more expensive side, but well worth it and are served in large portions. The irresistible "lover" roll ($15.95) is prepared with spicy tuna, wrapped in fresh tuna with honey wasabi; the Maguro king roll is made with a variety of tuna and mustard miso sauce ($16.95). And that Manhattan roll etched in my taste buds is mimicked in the flavorful Maguro green river roll.

There is no rice or seaweed in the green river roll ($12.95). This roll is strictly for spicy tuna aficionados who love avocado. The texture of this roll is such that when you put it in your mouth, it almost dissolves. The tuna mixture isn't heavy on the mayo and the avocado is very thinly sliced and combined with the eel sauce. It's just one of those delightful appetizers that makes you do the whole smile-and-roll-your-eyes at the same time thing.

It's hard to focus on the entrees or hibachi when there is so much good sushi to be had at Maguro, but the hibachi also is excellent with lots of that hibachi grill flavor. It varies in price from $9.95 for kids, up to $39.95 for a filet and lobster combo. The scallop hibachi ($20.95) came cooked perfectly.

The rice with the hibachi was cooked well, but I would have liked more in it than just rice, egg and sauce. The peas seen elsewhere in hibachi rice were MIA here, but the scallops and veggies were flavorful and prepared well by our hibachi chef, Calvin, who was a joy to watch.

One of the entrees that looked interesting was the sea bass ($24.95) because it is served with bok choy and nanban sauce, which has a base of rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Seafood lovers can get the "king of the sea" entree ($28.95) with shrimp, scallops and lobster with a yuzu butter sauce. The restaurant also features several noodle dishes and rice dishes from $10.95 to $14.95.

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