Hidden menu gems unearthed

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The best part about eating at your favorite restaurant is ordering your favorite item off the menu and enjoying the sweet, guilty pleasure.

It’s not often people dare to veer from their usual tastes to explore a menu’s variety.

It’s quick and easy to know exactly what you always want from a certain restaurant, but it takes real guts to make a leap of faith and order the item too often skimmed over. Two Dixie Sun News reporters took that leap to discover St. George’s hidden treasures in the unacknowledged parts of restaurant menus.

Mara’s first stop: George’s Corner Restaurant and Pub, Mahi Fish Taco Appetizer

At George’s Corner, located at 200 W. St. George Blvd., I’d normally be drawn to the burger section of any restaurant menu. Coincidentally, when I asked the waitress about a hidden treasure on the menu, she pointed right to the lamb burger.

She said she thinks people are intimidated by unusual meats like lamb, but the lamb burger patty is the tastiest of them all. Her second suggestion was the Fish Taco off of the “Small Bites” section.

I told the waitress I was not a fan of fish or tacos, but perhaps I’d be surprised this time by the unnatural combination.

The taco arrived in a hard corn shell. Traditionally, mahi fish taco recipes online call for soft tortilla shells, but I wasn’t disappointed by the crunchy addition.

I’m not familiar with the rules of making the perfect fish taco, but from what I could taste, the mahi fish had been lightly grilled, leaving a juicy, flavor-filled texture. This is where the use of a soft tortilla shell makes more sense because the fish juices seep through the shell. A freshly made taco may have not had that problem, so perhaps digging right into the taco once it arrives at your table would be the smartest option.

The mahi is a flaky, white fish with a mild flavor. The chipotle seasoning on the fish provided a spicy kick to the rest of the fresh garden ingredients: thinly sliced onion, tomato and Parmesan cheese. I’m an avid spice lover, so naturally I dripped some Tabasco sauce over the shell to top off the spicy experience.

Fish tacos are not my favorite, but I highly recommend George’s Corner’s hidden fishy treasure for those brave enough to venture from their appetite norm.

Mara’s next venture: Sakura Sushi, Sashimi Salad

I had high expectations for my treasure hunt at Sakura Sushi, which is located at 939 E. St. George Blvd. Sushi is an engraved favorite of mine, and I tend to be extra critical about my sushi choices.

The ordering process took a bit longer than George’s Corner. Not that it was irritating, but I was lucky to have an enthusiastic waitress who took the liberty to ensure I would truly get Sakura’s hidden treasure dish by asking the staff members what they would recommend.

I ordered an item called the Sashimi Salad. This was me going way out of my comfort zone as I’m accustomed to ordering the traditional spicy crab roll sushi and miso soup.

Small, bite-sized chunks of raw tuna and salmon dressed in dark salad leaves dripping with sesame oil would not seem like a delicious combination. Pushing aside my fears, I took a timid bite and was unexpectedly satisfied by the spicy touch.

Dripped hot sauce around the edge of the plate gave a spicy addition to the unusual salad. I’ve got to say the hot chili flavoring helped me get through the first nervous bites.

After I got over the raw-fish texture, I had conquered that salad to the end and was pleasantly surprised to have thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely be ordering Sakura’s Sashimi Salad again.

Emily’s first adventure: Benja Thai and Sushi, Benja’s Spicy Basil

Benja’s Spicy Basil is a specialty on the Benja Thai and Sushi menu but is not ordered very often, according to the servers.

The dish contains green beans, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, fresh basil and Thai chilies. When the ingredients listed in the dish were presented to me, I could understand why it is not a frequently ordered dish because of its diversity of vegetables.

Green beans, zucchini and carrots are not on the list of ingredients usually associated with spicy basil in the Western U.S.

Benja’s Spicy Basil comes with your choice of meat and rice. All the ingredients were fresh and crisp but cooked enough to be warmed through. The sauce was light and did not leave a residue in the mouth.

The order was of medium spice. Both basil and Thai chilies have a strong taste but it was perfect in this dish and did not over power the flavor of the vegetables.

I recommend Benja’s Spicy Basil, not just for its flavor, but because it does not have an abundance of additives or high-calorie ingredients, if you are counting calories.

Emily’s last stop: St. Helen’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, Rib-Eye

St. Helen’s, located at 395 E. Telegraph Street, is an interesting place. It serves everything from country fried steak to sushi. 

Servers say the rib-eye steak is the most unordered entrée. It comes with your choice of potato, steamed vegetable, and soup or salad.

I was a little concerned about trying the steak because the server said he had only placed one order for the rib-eye since July.

However, I was nicely surprised. The rib-eye was perfectly cooked to order and fresh. It was seared nicely even on booth sides, giving it taste as well as a nice visual in the presentation. 

The steamed vegetables were a nice mix and seasoned evenly but not just with butter and salt. The potato was perfectly baked and not dry. I was impressed with the overall presentation and would recommend the steak on St. Helen’s menu.