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Lunch bento boxes at Shinsei Sushi come with house salad, miso soup, gyoza and steamed rice, plus picks from 13 choices that include teriyaki chicken, tempura, yakisoba and yakiniku. Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan

Shinsei Sushi worth trip to Northgate Center

With Northgate Center's second phase bringing some new dining options to the Medford area, it's worth revisiting a spot down the way that's already earned its keep.

For nearly four years, Shinsei Sushi has been offering Japanese fare in the shopping center at 63 Rossanley Drive. The location has the potential to become a dining hot spot, with RAM Restaurant & Brewery drawing crowds and the almost-finished Mod Pizza nearby.

I went for one of Shinsei Sushi's lunch bento boxes during a visit Tuesday. All of the bento boxes come with a house salad, miso soup, gyoza and steamed rice, plus picks from 13 choices that include teriyaki chicken, tempura, yakisoba and yakiniku. Two choices cost $11.95 and three are $15.95.

For my bento, I went for the tempura shrimp roll, California roll and tonkatsu.

I really liked the tempura shrimp roll, which contained two warm, lightly fried pieces of shrimp and avocado wrapped rice-side-out and drizzled in a sweet unagi sauce and topped with sesame seeds.

The tonkatsu, a Panko-breaded pork filet lightly fried and served with a sweet ginger sauce, arrived hot and juicy, and it was cut to be enjoyed with chopsticks.

Though the California roll was cool and delicately prepared, it's one I'd probably skip next time, mostly because more interesting choices are available. 

The green salad was a medley of mixed greens topped with shredded carrots, broccoli and cucumber pieces and a flavorful carrot-ginger dressing.  

Rather than the break-apart disposable chopsticks common at Asian restaurants, Shinsei supplied finished, wooden, reusable implements with a carved texture near the point that made food a little easier to grip.

My only real gripe is that the restaurant charges for hot green tea, a freebie at many other spots. But soda fans, particularly those fond of offbeat flavors, will be happy. For $1.95, diners can choose from four flavors of the Japanese soda Ramune, sold in a unique glass bottle sealed with a glass marble at the top. To open it, you press the marble lodged in a gasket down with a special tool, then watch it drop only partway down through the specially designed bottle.

There's not much inside the bottle, only 7 ounces of made-in-Japan cane sugar soda, but it's a lovely treat. I couldn't end my visit without one, so I grabbed a melon-flavored bottle to go. I'll have to wait for another visit for the other flavors.

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