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Editor's Note, June 22, 2012: Sensu announced early this month that it will no longer serve dinner. It will, however, remain an upscale nightclub and special-event venue, with Asian-inspired catering services available.
No one visits Sensu on a Saturday night for a quiet meal. This downtown restaurant-nightclub treats dining the way Vegas traditionally does: as an excuse to get dolled up, drink, dance, and maybe share a light bite or two. Restaurateur Jeremiah Hamman (of Mo’s ... A Place for Steaks, Detour—An American Grille, and Mo’s Irish Pub in Noblesville), creates eye candy with his chic, 15,000–square-foot Jetsons-modern space. Along one wall, huge plasma screens stream a trippy loop of anything from wine splashing to foliage scenes. The lower level buzzes with thumping beats and bumping bodies—among them, a fair share of scantily clad 30-something women and men in tight black T-shirts. Meanwhile, the most surprising thing about Sensu is the food served upstairs: It’s actually great. For dinner service, a young and distracted hostess on the downstairs level radios up to a manager donning a wireless headset to find out if a table’s ready. Guests are escorted up a curvy black staircase and directed to high-backed, curvaceous banquettes, or front-and-center tables against the railing, the prime spot for taking it all in.
Sensu’s refined pan-Asian fare is clean-cut and extraordinarily poised, with more than a dozen maki rolls and several hot and cold sharable dishes. Standout starters include roasted shishito peppers drizzled with a ginger-infused yuzu vinaigrette and rock shrimp tempura with a creamy, spicy sauce. Among the larger shared plates, caramelized black cod with a melt-in-your-mouth white miso sauce should not be skipped, even at $28 for the nibble. The crab-and-shiitake-crusted filet mignon, served with hoisin jus and wasabi mashed potatoes, sounds like too much of a good thing, but the assemblage is so skillful, you won’t mind.
>> SIMILAR TASTES
While Hamman and his team may have glitzed up the formula, they aren’t the only ones dishing out polished Asian-inspired fare. H2O Restaurant & Sushi Bar (1912 Broad Ripple Ave., 254-0677, h2osushibar.com) is a favorite due to starters like the bright, clean tuna tartare served with wonton chips > Bu Da Lounge (148 E. Market St., 822-8522, budalounge.com) wows downtowners with its cigar-bar swankiness and sauced-up, Western-style rolls, like the Hot Blonde with tuna, Sriracha, and jalapeño > Naked Tchopstix (6253 N. College Ave., 552-5555, tchopstix.com) is our go-to spot for octopus salad and flaming sushi > Winner’s Circle Pub, Grille & OTB (20 N. Pennsylvania St., 656-7223, hoosierpark.com/winnerscircle) serves those roasted sweet Shishito peppers.
>> MORE: See our July 2011 review of Sensu, which is no longer serving dinner as of June 5, 2012.
Photos by Tony Valainis.This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.
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