When I lived in Japan, the best most memorable meals were had through these little nondescript “doorways”. I was fortunate to fall in the lovely folds of a few “mama-sans” who dragged me into their favorite restaurants. Most of these restaurants were just walk up counter tops through little doorways down any alleyways. There were hardly any signs. Almost all of these restaurants were known from word of mouth or if you were lucky to have friends or literally stumble onto them. Such is the same for Nagoya Sushi.
Set in the alleyway between Christini’s Ristorante Italiano and Woof Gang Bakery, in The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips, aptly infront of a very nice water feature, is this little hole in the wall. If you were to walk straight into the alley and not look around, you would end up in the back parking lot. Stop and take a breath at the water feature, look around and there you are. The magical little “doorway”. The interior of this restaurant is small but very cozy. There is a very comfy corner right behind the greeter’s podium. Next time I go, I must invite a group, because I have always wanted to sit there. There are booths, tables, chairs, and a sushi bar. The wall and surrounding artwork is deftly Japanese.
The star in this restaurant has always been the ability of the chef to get creative. There are the usual gamut of teriyakis, tempuras, salads, soups, noodles, and rolls. However, the sushi chef’s really get innovative with their rolls. The chef’s specialty menu of maki changes ever so often. Creativity comes at a price. Most makis on this specialty menu is on the higher side of your regular rolls menu.
Ginger Salad, Miso Soup, and Donbin Mushi – Salad was fresh with extra thick ginger dressing. Miso soup was light and salty. Donbin Mushi is shrimp, scallop, fish, chicken, all simmered together in a savory broth served in a teapot; the broth is drunk like tea. It was very delicate, a welcomed delight.
Hamachi Kama – Grilled salted Yellow Tail fish jaw. One of the most delicate, tastiest parts of a huge fish is their jaw. This jaw was no exception. Unfortunately, the fish meat flavor was masked by over saltiness. Very light salt is necessary, but too much salt overpowers the delicate fish.
Royal Tuna Kobachi – Raw tuna and avocado cubed over seaweed salad in a spicy sauce. Very generous portion of tuna mixed into the seaweed salad, good flavors and textures working together. Although, the sauce was very subtle.
Sashimi Deluxe – 30 pieces of raw fish and shellfish. Tuna, escolar, salmon, yellowtail, surf clam, white fish, horse mackerel. This was modified from the original portion since I wanted to add horse mackerel. Not many sushi restaurants around town carry horse mackerel. I was delighted that this place does. Horse mackerel has a less oily and salty mouth feel than regular mackerel. Although, the accompanying grated ginger garnish was missing. The ginger cuts into the fishiness of this fish. I am not a big fan of cubed escolar. This fish is too oily for my palate to ingest in chunks. I rather regular cross-sectional slices. Another of my favorites is the surf clam. Slightly chewy texture, great appearance on this combination. The freshness is commendable.
Five Types of Innovative Sushi – Five different arrangements: Avocado wrapped with torched tuna, cucumber wrapped with snapper, spicy kimchi conch, spring mix salad wrapped with salmon, sushi rice wrapped with bean curd. This could change depending on availability and chef. Here is a full array of flavors. Very creative and tasty.
Hop Hop Roll – Four different types of arrangement: smoked salmon with jalapeno, spicy salmon, kimchi conch, krabmeat with wakame seaweed, all resting on crispy sushi rice. Not much of a roll, but definitely a great creation. All of these flavor works well together. The crispy sushi rice was delightful.
Selaks Icewine – an oily lusciously sweet honeyed wine, that dances on the palate neutralizing soy sauce and adding to the luxuriousness of fish. Love my stickys!
Nagoya Sushi Restaurant has taken me back to my first forays into sushi in tiny restaurants through the back alleys of Tokyo, Yokosuka, and Sasebo. The same tantalizing heightened surprise of eating with all of my senses invoked memories of another era. Although the price for this memory is steep, I may have to shorten the time between visits.