Photos by Anastasia Gayol Cintron ‘17 | Arts Editor
Over the first week back from winter break, you may have heard something about a new sushi restaurant on Cattell Street. You also may have thought this story to be a rumor resulting from exhausted and perhaps inebriated nights wandering College Hill. Great news! Plum House, located on 325 Cattell Street, is real and to many students, this new establishment is a welcome change from walking down the icy ramp to Downtown Easton for a sushi dinner.
Instead, one can enjoy a piping hot cup of green tea in a stone mug only a few blocks down from Wawa. From the outside, the Plum House looks like your run of the mill takeout place – tucked away in a residential property and only distinguishable by its rainbow florescent sign. Inside, however, is nothing less than an authentic Japanese sushi house. Decorated with chestnut woods, the restaurant feels less like a Tokyo hotspot and more like a local, homey favorite that could be found in rural Japan.
The sushi bar located at the very front of the restaurant, is a statement piece while the kitchen and hibachi grill are located in the back and only separated from patrons by a low counter. This creates a truly all-inclusive dining experience
Most importantly, the food is incredible. My dining partner and I chose from an array of samplings on the menu. What else to start with than an order of edamame? Warm and crusted in sea salt, these infant soybeans were served in generous amount. The seaweed salad was superb with the right balance of a savory and sweet dressing. Their fried shrimp shumai were definitely a highlight: crisp and golden on the outside and gooey soft pillows on the inside. For an entrée, I selected two rolls: one spicy tuna and one banana tempura (a roll I had never seen on a menu before) and two pieces: one tamago and one eel. Although I was not a huge fan of the spicy tuna roll as the tuna was a smidge dry, the banana tempura roll was superb! The roll cradled slices of warm plantains and bits of avocado. The tamago or Japanese omlette sushi was enjoyable, but the quality of the piece would have been enhanced had the egg been warm. The eel was probably one of the best pieces of eel I have ever had. In a single two-bite piece of sushi, Plum House’s commitment to serving only the freshest seafood was evident. The eel was also warm which displayed an emphasis on cooking quality as oppose to rushed fast food.
I was able to sample my dining partner’s vegetarian udon noodle dish. This would definitely be something I would order on a chilly February night (perhaps with an order of that shumai!) Plum House has “lots of good vegetarian options, but also pescatarian options” Sasha Seliverstova ’17 said.
The few negatives that there were included slow service and the fact that my food and my partner’s food did not come out at the same time. Personally, I did not mind this delay because again this is certainly not a fast-food establishment and has an emphasis on a zen dining experience. And speaking of zen, I had no anxiety about the price of my bill. My Plum House tab totaled to about $26. Plum House also offers a $7.50 lunch special what comes with soup and a choice of two rolls.
The restaurant is the newest addition to the line-up of casual college eats on Cattell and is the brainchild of chef and owner Qixin Yu. A restaurateur with 21 years in the business behind him, his past experience includes head chef at A-1 Japanese Steakhouse in Allentown and Yu Garden in Easton. A great and charismatic host, he visited our table and chatted with us about our time at Lafayette.
Qixin has been waiting two years for his spot on Cattell as he enjoys the surrounding community; it is evident that his passion for Japanese cuisine is paying off. With Plum House’s grand opening being on December 20, 2013, the restaurant already has 4.5/5 stars on Yelp with seven reviews. Not bad for a humble sushi house. It may be a small restaurant, but there is nothing miniscule about the heart and soul of this establishment.