A restaurant in Woodbury has successfully combined two of my favorite things in life: Happy hour and sushi.

Now, before I get too far into my review of Shanghai Bistro, I’ll admit, I have a bit of a bias. Shanghai, also located in Eau Claire and a new location in Hudson, was my former employer. I worked for Executive Chef Henry Chan while I was in college and had a blast being a waitress for him at his Eau Claire Shanghai Bistro.

However, I did not make any money the entire time I worked there. This was simply because the food was just too good. So, really, I guess I worked for food and in truth that was probably better than any alternative.

So keep that in mind. I was a former employee, but one who sacrificed a paycheck to the call of the delicious food.

Shanghai Bistro, formerly known as Giapponese, opened on Citywalk Drive in Woodbury in January of 2008 and I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken me this long to finally get over there and try it out. I’ve been wanting to dine here for what seems like forever, but never had the chance — or let’s be honest, never was ambitious enough to drive to Woodbury. Sorry, I’m lazy.

But when I finally got my chance and made the slight trek, I can without a doubt say, it was completely worth the wait. The restaurant has a great modern, yet cozy, feel. It’s not a huge restaurant, but with a long sushi bar and a separated bar area, it’s the perfect setting for good sushi mixed with good conversation.

Enough about the setting, though, the important thing here and the reason I lured you into this article, is the sushi happy hour. Probably the best deal I’ve seen for sushi, considering the quality and selection. From 3:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, sushi lovers can stop in for an array of fresh fish for happy hour prices, many for only $3 or so. And that includes a few makimono rolls, i.e. California roll, shrimp tempura roll, etc.

And as good of a deal as that is, I still must urge guests not to solely stick to the happy hour menu but to diverge into the greatness that is Shanghai’s signature rolls.

I was so thrilled to see a few of my favorites from the Bistro made the list here as well, so of course, I went back to my old staples. I got the Lava Roll, which has a great, fresh taste of tuna and ends with a kick of spice from the “lava sauce.” Don’t even think about putting soy sauce on this bad boy, either. It completely overpowers the fresh, light taste and the flavors of the roll.

I also tried the Maui Roll, which was a sweeter sushi roll and oh-so-amazing. The shrimp tempura had a crispy, crunchy coconut shrimp batter and when added to the tangy sweetness of fruit, it was like heaven in a roll.

And though I didn’t have room during this stop, the crab rangoons are probably among the best I’ve ever had — and I tend to order these tasty gems at just about every restaurant that’ll serve them. So, not saying I’m an expert, but a crab rangoon connoisseur, perhaps.

Also, if you’re looking for something to wash all this goodness down with, you must try the sakétinis, which are kind of like a martini but way better. Instead of traditional vodka, Shanghai uses saké for a crisper and more delicious taste to tradition martinis. Try the blue raspberry sakétini — but make sure you have a designated driver.

All in all, it was a fabulous reason to go to Woodbury and get me out of Minneapolis for a meal. To Henry and the Shanghai gang, congratulations on all of your success — it’s truly perfection. I’ll definitely be back again.

Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.