The folks behind Volcano Modern Japanese Cuisine apparently are big on appearances. From their sleek, dark and modern dining room to beautifully prepared and inventive plates, they create a feast for the eyes all around.

 

All the same, the vibe at this month-and-a-half-old Japanese eatery is very dressed down. Planted at the edge of the bustling Windsor Commons shopping center near Hodges and Butler boulevards, Volcano is as suburban and come-as-you-are as it comes. The pulse of the pickup business is strong, with a steady stream of customers grabbing and going.


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Volcano’s expansive menu features a variety of hot and cold appetizers, noodle and rice bowls, and sashimi and sushi classic and signature rolls, along with fully involved katsu, tempura and hibachi entrees.

My family tagged along with me on a recent Wednesday night outing. For starters, I wanted to get to the bottom of the alluring Sushi Taco ($11.99). The cold appetizer boasted four light, tempura-batter shells stuffed with a buttery, creamy blend of Maine lobster, crab, avocado, mango and fish egg. While delicious on their own, the shells proved delicate and brittle. Approach these with fork and knife; they aren’t meant to be hand-helds.

Volcano offers 16 single- and combo-meat hibachi entrees, which arrive from the kitchen (no option for tableside chef theatrics here). I tried the sea scallop ($16.99), which offered a good six to eight pieces along with thin Japanese-style noodles, mixed vegetables and your choice of miso soup or green salad and steamed or fried rice. The entrée was a healthy portion and the perfectly seared scallops were seasoned in a light, not overbearing teriyaki glaze.

For “craft” sushi lovers, Volcano offers 23 signature rolls, in addition to 43 classic and special rolls. For a creamy, colorful treat, don’t miss the Angry Bird ($13.99), a complex creation stacking spicy tuna and shredded crab atop creamy scallop and spicy crab, all wrapped up with a house spicy mayo. I didn’t find it to be as tongue-burning as I envisioned — with three “spicy” mentions under one menu item, I had my concerns — but I loved the individual textures contrasting with each other, which made this a roll to savor on the palate.

My wife enjoyed perusing Volcano’s 21 a la carte sushi and sashimi selections, which paired well with her gluten- and rice-sensitive diet. Her sashimi choices— yellowtail, tuna, smoked salmon ($4.50 per roll, two pieces per order) and red snapper ($4 per roll) — were dressed to impress in an elegantly arranged bowl of chipped ice, served on a “plate” of dark slate. All were impressively fresh and consumed without delay.

For kids 12 and under, Volcano offers four entrees — chicken, shrimp or steak with rice ($8.50 to $8.95), or an eight-piece chicken nuggets plate with french fries ($6.99). We opted for the latter, a bountiful plate of perfectly golden nuggets and crisp, thin-cut fries with ketchup for dipping. All the same, the kids’ options felt a bit pricey.

Ice cream is Volcano’s sole dessert option. We went for mochi-style, which involves encasing the ice cream inside a molded shell of sticky rice. The green tea flavor ($4) was a hit with my 2-year-old, although next time I’ll think twice about giving my little girl a caffeinated treat so close to bedtime.

While happy hour isn’t quite ready for prime time yet (the proprietors assured me it’s a work in progress), Volcano offers a full complement of domestic and imported bottled beer and wine by the glass and bottle, along with hot and cold sake. Lunch specials, available Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., include hibachi, tempura, katsu, classic and special roll combos from $7.25 to $13.99.

Service on our visit was friendly, personable and attentive at every turn, although it was clear our server didn’t have a full mastery of English and stumbled at a couple of our questions.

All things considered, Volcano is a great neighborhood place that deals in fresh, beautiful food, served in a similar environment. I’ll be back to dig into more of their specialty sushi rolls.

For more of Jay’s dining experiences, visit his blog at www.jaymagee.com.