2015 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City ; 801-467-8955
Roll- and sashimi-lovers will find heaven in this popular Millcreek sushi joint if they can withstand the spotty service.
Cuisine: Sushi, Japanese
Hours: M, 5-9:30 pm; T-Th, 11:30 am-9:30 pm; F, 11:30 am-10 pm; S, noon-10 pm
Reservations: Not accepted/necessary
Recommended Dishes: Advanced sashimi platter (spicy scallop, tuna), Kona kampachi, lemon drop roll.
August 15, 2007
Sashimi delights despite SLC joint's slow service
By Vanessa Chang
To paraphrase a main tenet in Sasha Issenberg's The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy (Gotham, 2007), sometime in the 19th century, some Tokyo street vendors decided they'd had enough of pickling their sushi fish with vinegar and took a chance and went raw. A love affair was born. Prepared and eaten quickly, the bite-sized swatches of fish on vinegared rice was loved by an Imperial Japanese working class on-the-go.
Fast forward to a little sushi joint in the Millcreek area of Salt Lake City where sushi in many guises gets a lot of love from an on-the-go middle class. So much love, that, on a recent evening, it took 40 minutes to get a take-out order for an "advanced sushi" platter ($22.95) from Oh Sushi (formerly Go Sushi).
The entrance at this newly renamed venue was as cramped as a Tokyo subway car. Another woman waited for take-out and two groups of skaters-cum-snowboarders were eyeing places to sit. But the gray-hued dining room, overseen by a large, artistic rendering of a marlin, was full. No luck at the small sushi bar either. Behind it two sushi chefs were trying to keep up with a line of order tickets in front of them.
Nowadays, "let's get sushi," implies a posh night out or a quick tray of supermarket California rolls. On that sushi scale, Oh lies smack-dab in the middle. Parking is tight in the corner where Oh shares space with a laundromat and a coffeehouse. It's not a temple of transcendence like, say, Masa in New York's Time Warner Building. It's a neighborhood joint with enough mainstream mango and cream cheese to match the tobiko (flying fish roe) and tako (octopus).
The menu's expansiveness can be tricky for such a small crew. The "advanced platter" offered exquisite bites between so-so ones. The hotategai (spicy scallop) was sweet and soft, while tender cubes of maguro (tuna) in the poke salad were overwhelmed with the flavor of sesame. Also, keep in mind that the rice is as vital to good sushi as fish. Get it wrong and the luscious maguro ($4.50; $9.95 sashimi) capping the nigiri might as well be chunk light in spring water.
Nigiri-zushi literally means "quick sushi." And the guys on the line work at full speed. Maybe that's why I didn't get any wasabi traditionally tucked between the fish and rice in all my nigiri orders. Thankfully, they offer fresh wasabi (no charge). Aromatic, pungent and pale, pale green, you can dab as much or as little of this luxury as you'd like.
Service-wise, the pace is slow. The lapses maybe accounted for by the fact that two servers seat diners, take orders, fill drinks, watch over the edamame pot, plate some hot dishes and run people's tabs.
We nursed Arnold Palmers (a liquor license is expected in September) waiting for a bowl of udon ($4.50), which we found mild and gummy, but a 10-year-old one table over found perfect. The agedashi tofu ($3.95) would've been perfect in its deep-fried glory and creamy interior had the tentsuyu broth been spiked with much less soy.
But Oh redeemed itself with a sashimi special of Kona kampachi ($10.50/$4.95, 2-piece nigiri). Meltingly tender, this poster-child of aquaculture had flavor as pure and pristine as the deep blue waters off of Kona, Hawaii, where the fish is farmed in open-water pens.
Redemption came again with paper-thin slices of lemon veiling the Lemon Drop ($9.95), a beautifully balanced roll. Yellowtail tucked in with creamy ripe avocado, subtle green onions and shiso leaf, and the house spicy mayo make this a favorite among the 40 or so rolls offered on the menu.
As much as I enjoy deep-fried things, I seem to be the only person not fond of tempura-fried rolls. The texture of the salmon, cream cheese, crab, avocado and rice in the Vegas roll ($8.95) were indistinguishable. But everyone else in the house, including a few at my table, wolfed down the likes of the Go roll ($8.95) -- an amalgam of salmon, cilantro, mango and avocado -- without hesitation.
So, it's a little rough around the edges; even aggravating at times. But folks seem happy to have a local option when they say "let's go out for sushi." The love affair with it continues with all its flair and flaws.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.