An appetizer special
A first glance at Murasaki’s menu uncovers nothing unusual: sushi, sashimi, a litany of raw and cooked maki with catchy names, plus Japanese-style entrées and Thai specialties.
Somewhat hidden among this typical fare, however, are a few colorful, flavorful gems. One is the Hamachi Kama—or grilled yellowtail cheeks—which is served with a ponzu dipping sauce. This meaty jawbone portion is the sweetest part of the mild fish.
From Left: Crispy coconut spring rolls; sushi-and-sashimi combo
Meaning the color purple in Japanese, Murasaki’s name is fitting, as it far transcends the strip-center norm. To counter the nondescript exterior, owner Anna Cheng and husband Bill Ng—who also operate Mino Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Malvern—painstakingly designed the storefront’s interior. Soothing backlit elements reflect the restaurant’s name, while several handsome cut-stone walls and pillars, and a contoured panel mounted behind the sushi bar, imply luxury. And with the background music permanently set on “chill,” the Zen-like tranquility is unlike any other sushi spot in the area.
The Thai side of the menu may be abbreviated, but it offers something that’s been lacking in Chester Springs. Both the crispy coconut spring rolls and the shrimp rolls were excellent and almost completely free of grease. Their Drunken Man’s spicy noodle dish with shrimp was adequate, but the Island Red Curry—served with tofu—lacked aromatics and sweetness to balance the peppery bite.
From Left: Sushi chef Tim Gao; The soothing, sophisticated dining room
Better is the execution and skillful presentation of Murasaki’s Japanese side. The hand rolls’ deft construction yields a delicious equilibrium between flavor and texture. The Black Dragon Roll is a highlight, the soft give of its lacquered eel countering the crunchy vegetables. The tempura-flaked Last Samurai Roll is a bulging combination of spicy tuna, eel and avocado. It’s an iteration I’ve tried dozens of times elsewhere, but the freshness of the ingredients here made it memorable.
Twice within the span of three recent visits, I ran into acquaintances. Each echoed the others’ sentiment: “This place is great, isn’t it?”
Stopping briefly to concur, I quickly returned to the tender yellowtail cheeks clutched between my chopsticks.
The Amazing Roll
475 E. Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs, (484) 341-8362.
Cuisine: Japanese and Thai.
Atmosphere: Serene Asian-contemporary.
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner: 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3-9 p.m. Sunday.