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Brian Cox, a waiter at Suki Cafe, guides Samantha McDonald in the use of chop sticks as they enjoy a Fire Cracker roll at Suki Cafe. 

Eliza Wiley, Independent Record

Fresh seafood in a land-locked state more famous for trout than for tako? You betcha.

Helenans rejoiced several years ago when Kevin Pigman opened Wok-N-Roll on the west side of town and satisfied our collective craving for raw fish. And this summer, Suki Café, a Great Falls restaurant, opened a second location in downtown Helena – giving us another option for sushi and Japanese and Thai cuisine.

But what’s even better is that both restaurants now give Helenans the opportunity to expand their sushi habit to lunchtime.

Suki Café, which is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, features more than two dozen types of specialty rolls in addition to the more traditional rolls, such as California and spicy tuna rolls, and, of course nigiri. The lunch menu also offers three sushi combo selections that are a great introduction to sushi for the uninitiated.

Suki Café occupies the old Riley’s Pub location on Sixth Avenue. The space has been tastefully redecorated incorporating Asian themes.

“We wanted to bring more sushi, more Thai food and more culture to Helena,” said Arida Fuang, a member of the family who owns both Suki Café restaurants.

And while, Wok-N-Roll doesn’t offer dine-in service at lunchtime, you can pick up a tray of freshly made sushi, calamari salad and seaweed salad at Van’s Thriftway and the Real Food Store. Pigman said he started distributing sushi to the local grocery stores earlier this year and it has been a great success.

“We sell about 30 trays a day at Van’s,” Pigman said.

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Pigman said he’s working with other Helena grocery stores – Super 1 and Natural Grocers -- to make the sushi and salads available.

Both restaurants offer a specialty roll they call the Helena Roll. But their interpretation of the namesake sushi reflects the diversity of these two restaurants and why they are both worthy of a visit. Wok-N-Roll’s version is grilled sirloin and cream cheese; Suki Café’s version is crab stick, eel, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese topped with a special sauce.

And both restaurants have tako on their menu. You may not be able to catch tako with a fly rod, but the octopus sushi sure tastes better than raw trout.

Peggy O’Neill is a hungry, freelance writer who lives in Helena.


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