1400 S. Foothill Blvd. #152, Salt Lake City ; 801-906-8320
Hi Sushi isn't fancy, but it's a surprising and pleasant restaurant where both families and singles can enjoy a good meal.
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Hours: M-F, 11:30 a.m.-2;30 p.m., 5-9:30 p.m.; S, noon-9:30 p.m.
Liquor: Beer & Wine
Corkage: $ 8
Recommended Dishes: Funky white boy roll, spicy tuna shishito roll, agedashi tofu.
March 16, 2011
Sushi without attitude, but rightly sauced
By Vanessa Chang
Hi Sushi isnít a fancy place. For those inclined to seek out raw fish at sleek temples of the tragically hip, the bare walls could use some art. Maybe even a soundtrack.
But for those who prefer a more low-key avenue for nigiri, specialty rolls and sushi chef banter, Foothill Villageís Hi Sushi is a surprising and pleasant restaurant where both families and those relishing the single life (and the Sake Bombs) can enjoy a good meal.
When Iíve visited the place, the parking lot gods have smiled on me. Whenever Iíve pulled up in front of the restaurant in Foothill Village, a nearby car pulls out. My dining companions have had more mixed luck. But no matter the frustration with the often-crowded Foothill Village parking lot, moods are put at ease with the Hi Sushi staff.
The service is a bit unpolished ó but the staffís enthusiasm, flexibility and just plain niceness make up for it. Itís probably one reason why youíll find a lot of families here, even on happening Friday nights when, at other places in town, the wait feels unbearable and parents wouldnít normally think of not calling a babysitter.
On one Friday, a young family occupies a booth, with a little girl engaging servers in conversation about her age and whatís going on in school. Just a few feet at the sushi bar, a group of male friends order round after round of sake, their glasses clapping the table strongly enough to make my miso soup ($2) tremble.
Thereís a standard line-up of nigiri offered at the sushi bar. The best of the best is the uni, or sea urchin ($8.95 for two pieces). Uni often strikes either lust or fear in the heart of the sushi-goer.
If you havenít given the much maligned shellfish a try, itís safe to do it here. The price point is reasonable, and the product is impeccably fresh. Itís made a fan out of one of my friends, who has a standing Friday lunch date with his wife. Depending on how good or bad my friendís day is going, his lunch involves several rounds of the fresh uni ó custardy, briny, sweet, slightly slimy, and so mysteriously good it melts in your mouth between the sticky rice grains. No need to overdo it with the soy sauce or powdered wasabi.
Hi Sushi offers cooked dishes such as teriyaki bentos ($12.95 to $14.95), spicy fried chicken fingers ($12.95, best eaten in house, not to-go), and agedashi tofu ($4.50). But the restaurantís real strength is in the rolls.
Some are familiar, such as the ubiquitous Caterpillar roll ($12.95), which relies not on fresh crab but rather krab, with a ďK.Ē Before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that Krab is much beloved in Korea and Japan, and often served with mayonnaise, often to its detriment, lots of it. So itís not surprising to find it here at a Korean-owned sushi venue. What is pleasantly surprising is the judicious touch to the mayo ó and with other sauces.
A good deal of the rolls are tempura fried, which normally would send warning signals to most sushi lovers. The deep-frying is mostly a way to get raw-phobic diners to eat sushi. But here at Hi, the deep-frying is expertly done, so the crunch adds texture while preserving the fresh flavor of the fish.
You see this displayed simply and beautifully in a Spicy Tuna Shishito Roll ($7.25). Ruby-hued tuna flesh is chopped and seasoned nicely before being spread over the seasoned sushi rice. Some fried, mild shishito peppers are added before the whole thing is rolled and sliced, resulting in a beautiful piece thatís at once fresh tasting and crunchy with an unexpected echo of the slightly cooked shishito pepper.
Two men helm the sushi bar, even on busy Friday nights.
The younger fellow, who appears to be not much older than a teenager, is meticulous and patient, while he often looks to his older colleague for advice. The elder chef watches over how much rice the younger one uses, how much sauce is added to the rolls, and how things are cut.
As with most sushi places, the best seat in the house is at the bar so you can see the action, the types of ingredients the chefs are using and where the sauces come from. Also, here you can pay attention to the makings of a young sushi chef.
One caveat to sushi rolls is what I call the ďmega syndrome.Ē Most places try to layer on everything, resulting in an over-sauced behemoth. But at Hi Sushi, they avoid that, which is one of the restaurantís overall strengths.
The Red Dragon roll ($12.95) combines tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, crab, and avocado. At other venues, this might be a monstrosity, a display of machismo more than skill. But in the hands of either the elder or younger chef behind Hi Sushiís counter, itís a tempered elegant presentation, fresh and simple in flavor.
Likewise for the Funky White Boy Roll ($10.25), a weekly special that could easily go wrong, particularly when there are a couple of sauces thrown into the mix. Itís made of salmon, avocado and tuna, rolled with the traditional nori, along with a layer of mellow white fish.
The whole lot is nicely flash-fried for a grease-free crunchy roll thatís supported with a slightly sweet slick of funky sauce (not too much) and a second drizzle of white sauce, which consists of mayo, wasabi, hot sauce and lemon juice.
Much like this roll, the restaurant doesnít necessarily catch your eye. But once you get a taste of the skill that goes into it, youíre willing to give Hi Sushi and the Funky White Boy a lot of credit.
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.