Cincinnati’s Restaurant Row is very slowly taking shape. The first restaurant to open a few months ago was Mr Sushi, in the space next to the former Oceanaire, and future Bartinis. It’s unassuming on the outside, and a bit elegant and modern on the inside– it’s no dive.
There’s no doubt I love sushi, but I also wanted to try some of Mr Sushi’s other offerings. In addition to their namesake, they offer a variety of noodle dishes from various Asian cuisines, traditional Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Americanized appetizers, and even bi bim bap. It’s a pretty broad menu, and the three of us chose very different dishes.
We started off with a Playboy roll. Now, I realize that the Japanese art of sushi is supposed to be simply fish, rice, and nori– but I can’t help but enjoy when sushi chefs play around a bit. Call me a heretic– I’m happy to be one. I’ve had the Playboy roll before, at Apsara, and they lit the darn thing on fire. Melissa, the friend who was joining us for dinner, enjoyed a Playboy roll at a restaurant in Dayton– it was also flaming. No flame here, but the fire is just for show. The roll itself was large, gorgeously plated, and quite delicious– particularly if you like tempura and eel sauce. I could never eat a roll like this alone, but as a first course, it works quite well.
We each received a bowl of miso soup and a ginger salad, to go with our entrees. I loved the ginger salad– the dressing was light, with a bright punch of ginger– but not too watery, either (I find that many “ginger dressings” are watered down by the iceberg lettuce). The mix was, of course, iceberg (have you seen a Japanese restaurant use anything else?) but also included some carrot, onion and cucumber– a nice touch. The miso soup was average– not exceptional– but not to be avoided.
Both Melissa and I ordered noodle dishes, and I found it interesting that she was never asked what degree of spicy she would like. She is half of the couple who went with us to Thai 9 in Dayton, and ordered “7″ on their scale of 1-9. Instead, they put chili paste in a swirl on the side of the plate. It looked very pretty, but was not terribly practical when you wanted to spice up your pad Thai. The noodles were firm, the vegetables crisp and the chicken well-seasoned– I had a bite or two– but I don’t think I would order it the next time I visit Mr. Sushi.
I ordered combination yakisoba noodles– which turned out to be a good choice. Firm noodles (they used buckwheat noodles, and not the traditional ramen-style noodles; apparently “yakisoba” does not always denote the use of soba noodles!), in a rich, soy and mirin based sauce. The vegetables were crisp, the shrimp tender, the pork and chicken flavorful. I also loved the addition of pickled watermelon rind– it was a really nice contrast to the sweet, slightly salty sauce.
Terry was the only one who heeded the fact that we were visiting a restaurant called Mr Sushi and ordered a sushi dinner. The sushi dinners are “chef’s choice”– and in this case included tuna, salmon and yellowtail, along with a California roll. At $15, including the salad and miso, it’s not a bad deal, and the fish was very fresh.
This is a great place for sushi before a show at the Aronoff or an event at Fountain Square, and excellent for late night dining. I’m thrilled that we finally have a sushi restaurant in downtown Cincinnati (though another one will be opening soon in the Carew Tower). I’m eager to try out some of their other offerings and I have a feeling Terry and I will make it a late night dining haunt.