Restaurant Name: Daikon
Not the best sushi I've ever had, but certainly the best in Astana.
Daikon presents a fairly standard sushi cafe menu with a fair selection of sushi, rolls, sashimi, and tempura. I went with a large group and we ordered a wide variety to share. While nothing overwhelmed, it was all quite good.
Starters were quite good - seaweed salad was crisp and not too oily. Miso soup was flavorful and satisfying, in fact I think it was one of the spiciest bowls of miso I've ever eaten. It included more solid matter than I'm used to - seaweed, mushrooms, and a bit of tofu. Steer clear if you prefer simple broth, but I would go back to this restaurant for the soup alone.
I am always a bit uneasy about sashimi in places as landlocked as Astana, so we stuck with unagi and tako (eel and octupus) as these are always safe. The eel was excellent (after the meal we ordered an extra round of unagi for the table) and the tako was tender but a bit bland.
Shrimp tempura is hard to screw up, but it can be boring. Not at Daikon. The shrimp tempura was a very generous portion and included a large serving of tempura vegetables that we didn't expect. The shrimp itself was crisp and juicy and the tempura was light and crispy. Really outstanding.
The sushi rolls were not as great as the rest of the meal, but they were still quite tasty. The rice was nice and moist with just a hint of vinegar flavor and the rolls maintained their integrity rather than falling apart. My experiences with sushi in Astana so far have been hampered mostly by bad rice and dry fish, so this was a nice change. I am not a fan of the cream cheese rolls that are common here, but the vegetable, tuna, and California rolls were very good.
We ordered a very pricey dish to cap off the menu, some sort of broiled mussel shell with a mix of sea food and cheese. Several in our group liked it, but I wasn't impressed especially given the price (around 3500 T). The mussels had sort of a petro-chemical flavor, maybe from being broiled with a torch? I was the only one in our group who noticed so maybe it was nothing, but for the money I'd get two or three orders or unagi instead.
The drink menu is fairly standard for Astana with the addition of Asahi beer. Tea is available in several varieties as well.
I hardly noticed the wait staff, which is a good sign in my book. The menu is a bit confusing having been translated through at least three languages (e.g. salads = сарад), but the waiters were able to understand our orders without much effort. Food came promptly and included exactly what we ordered. We had to remind the waiter that we had ordered a pot of tea at one point, but given the chaos of our group it was a minor issue. The only conflict came when one of our group tried to put an empty dish on an unused table to clear space. Although there was plenty of empty space, our waiter was thoroughly upset by this.
Daikon is a typical small sushi cafe. There is a small bar and seating for around 25, all in a single large room. Decor is understated and the room is well-lit. It would be a fine place for a date or a business lunch and there were families with children as well. Our group was large and boisterous and this did not seem to cause any problems.
The biggest struggle in eating at Daikon is finding the place. It is tucked behind Mega near the UFO and it is on the second floor of an inconspicuous apartment building. The best way to get there is to take the bus to Mega. Then walk behind Mega where you will see three square apartment towers. Daikon is in the middle one on the second floor. There is a small red sign at the top of the building and another small sign that reads суши кафе near the stairs. Otherwise it is easy to miss.