The 39th Street corridor, near State Line, is filled with interesting restaurants and shops. One of our favorites is Friends Sushi & Bento Place at 1808 W. 39th St. in Kansas City, Mo. Less than a block from KU Hospital, it has a solid following of residents from around the metro.
Almost Hidden Gem
Friends Sushi is tucked into the middle of a busy block, which can make it hard to spot it at first. There are so many restaurants in the area, that you can find just about every cuisine imaginable. Since they opened in 2005, they have set a high bar for Japanese dishes. Open Monday through Saturdays for lunch and dinner, they do close from 2:30 to 5:00 each day to prepare for the menu change. The seating inside includes a few chairs at the sushi bar, but mostly it is two rows of tables in the dining area. There is also a counter by the window, which is nice to sit at on a sunny winter day.
We know lots of friends who love sushi, and enjoy a wide variety of the offerings. For us, we never quite got the raw fish thing, so we limit ours to just a few roll options. If we visit at dinner time, we will usually order a California or Philadelphia Roll. Sometimes we may wander toward the Shrimp Tempura Roll, but that is usually the most adventurous we will get. Of course, our limitations do not prevent Friends Sushi from delivering up lots of variations of sushi, sashimi, maki, and specialty rolls.
A Special Treat
Our visit for this article occurred on a Saturday for lunch. Whenever we are in the area, this place is one of the first to pop into our heads. While we do enjoy many of the other fine establishments nearby, for a healthy and filling lunch this is our go-to place. We were quickly seated, and looked over the menu. This is one of those places where we always gravitate to the same meals, because we enjoy them so much. We placed our orders, and soon the server returned to our table. She informed us that the owner was creating us a treat to try out. I was able to capture a short video of him preparing Sake-toro, which is made with torch-fired Salmon belly. The flavor was very light, and the texture was quite creamy. Our server told us that she loves the smell that fills the restaurant whenever this specialty is ordered. It was truly a treat to see and taste.
A Box Full of Goodness
While Friends Sushi and Bento has a nice variety on their menu, we stick with the bento boxes most of the time. For those who have never had one, it is like ordering a six mini-course meal, all in one. The meal begins with a bowl of soup (not pictured), and we both chose the Onion Soup, but they also offer Miso. Crystal is a chicken fan, so she sticks to the Teriyaki Chicken version. This is served on a bed of steamed vegetables. It is accompanied by a serving of steamed rice, which is drizzled with teriyaki sauce. It also features house salad, a spring roll, and a cheese cracker (Think Crab Rangoon). As you can see, it is a filling meal, and all for around $9.00. There are even some orange slices to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal.
Other Bento Options
I chose the Steak Teriyaki on this visit, but have tested some of the other main courses on previous stops. The Friends Yakitori has three skewers, with one each of chicken, beef, and shrimp. These were all good, but I preferred the chicken overall. The Beef Short Ribs were very flavorful, but in the end the steak became my go-to. They also offer the bento boxes for dinner, and they are only a buck more, so still a great option. So the next time you find yourself in the area, why not stop in for some lunch or dinner? We are hoping you like it as much as we do, but please be sure to save a table for us.