I never realized downtown’s lack of sushi options until just now. After Ko-Sho’s move to Northside, downtown was left with almost no place for quality sushi other than Bootsy’s.
Perhaps because of the name, I expected Mr. Sushi to be basic and a little less than refined. I pictured a small place with few employees and tile floors. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Owner Jin Kim is a restaurant veteran, also operating Cincinnati’s Iron Chef Grill and Café Sushi in Dayton. With my first step in the door, my expectations were exceeded. The restaurant is big and has a long bar with hanging lights overhead. It’s nicely decorated and dimly lit. The expansive space hosts a pretty extensive menu to match. Along with all the sushi and a plethora of Japanese seafood and noodle dishes, Mr. Sushi serves all your favorite Korean dishes like Bul Ko Gi and Bibimbab and even T-Bone and Hibachi steaks.
The menu is so extensive that my girlfriend and I ordered way more food than we could possibly eat in order to sample a variety of items. From the many appetizer choices, we went with the Korean Pancake ($9) and the Spicy Tuna Leaves ($6).
I wanted the Korean Pancake because it sounded like something I had at Tea & Bowl in Clifton Heights, which was thin and a little crispy with a great dipping sauce. Mr. Sushi’s pancake is a more authentic Korean pancake stuffed with chunks of shrimp, scallop, squid and green onion, served with a similar light-but-spicy sauce. The Korean Pancake was a little soft and oily for my taste, but that’s sort of the name of the game with a pancake filled with seafood.
We both loved the Spicy Tuna Leaves, which consist of cooked tuna between two shiso leaves (Japanese mint) lightly breaded and fried, served with a drizzle of hot mustard and a sweet brown sauce.
They had a delicate crispiness and sweetness and they offer an interesting way to eat shiso. The flavor of shiso, if you’ve never had it, is subtle with hints of cinnamon and ginger — not minty, per se.
Next up was the Miso soup that came with our meals. I always find that restaurants skimp on the miso soup that comes with an entrée. I think there was a piece of tofu in it. But the miso broth was very tasty and fresh.
Since, for some reason, I prefer to have my meal chosen for me by restaurant employees, I ordered the Sushi Regular ($16). The menu promises seven pieces of sushi chosen by the sushi chef and either a California roll or tuna roll. I chose the California roll. The rest of the pieces were salmon, yellowtail and tuna nigiri. The roll was remarkably fresh-tasting. I think it has something to do with using slivers of cucumber instead of a big chunk. All the nigiri were long slices that tasted delicious and fresh.
My lady friend ordered the Yaki Udon ($12). It was a stir fry of sorts with thick udon (wheat noodles), fresh vegetables and your choice of chicken, beef or shrimp. If you’re not a sushi person, look no further than this dish when your worldly friends drag you to Mr. Sushi. It had all the characteristics of a good Japanese hot dish; it’s savory and a little sweet, fresh tasting, cooked just right and very satisfying. I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was awesome.
Remember when I said we ordered a lot of food? Well we also ordered two other sushi rolls — the Yum Yum Roll ($6) and the Volcano Roll ($13). Like the other sushi, they were very fresh and delicious.
For dessert, Mr. Sushi offers Tempura Ice Cream, which is vanilla ice cream wrapped in pound cake then dipped in tempura batter and fried ($5, $7 with a banana). But my friend had never had Mochi Ice Cream so we had to get it. For $4, you get two flavors. We chose vanilla and red bean since they were out of green tea and mango. They also offer strawberry, chocolate and coffee flavors.
If you’ve ever had mochi ice cream, I don’t have to tell you that it’s amazing. In fact, you’ve probably stopped reading because mochi ice cream is basically the definition of bliss. But I must say, the vanilla wasn’t very good and Mr. Sushi put whipped cream and chocolate sauce on the mochi which takes away from its simple perfection.
Overall, the service and food were very good and the space is comfortable, fun and inviting. They know what they’re doing and don’t overlook the details. We’re sure the neighborhood will quickly embrace Mr. Sushi.
Go: 580 Walnut St., Downtown
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday; noon-3 a.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Entrée Prices: $12-$26
Red Meat Alternatives: Varied
Accessibility: Fully accessible