Monday, August 13, 2012

Oishii Sushi: That's right, it means Delicious Sushi!

Back in my university days, my work-study job gave me some extra spending money. That money basically went to food, and my roommate and I had a designated jar for "Sushi money". In those days, we would go to sushi at least once a week for the love of Oishii Sushi. They first opened at a location that just recently closed on Bardstown Road--don't worry!--They reopened at a larger location on Taylorsville Road, and I am glad they did because the uncontrollable number of patrons tells us that I am not the only enamored one.

When they first opened, we would often find ourselves the only customers, sitting at the sushi bar, chatting it up with the magical sushi chefs. I vividly remember asking what a hand-roll was (apparently my skills of deduction hadn't developed yet--it's a roll you eat with your hands like a sushi-burrito), and they rolled up a fresh Big Daddy Hand Roll for me to try and see if I liked it, for free. We instantly became regulars. They would treat us to the occasional dessert roll or they would carve up an orange into some beautiful beach scene. Now that they are so busy, those little treats are not necessarily a part of our dining experience, but we understand and we don't really care. We have tried basically everything on the menu by now, and we just keep going back for more.

Seaweed salad, Gyoza, and Green tea
This time around we were a trio, sailing the sushi seas. We decided to start off with Green Tea, the Seaweed Salad, and Gyoza (pork dumplings) with ponzu sauce. I was so happy with the starters that I was almost too frazzled to decide on the sushi rolls, which is arguably more difficult. After much debate and considering how balanced our menu should be, we made the decision. Normally, we try to cover the bases by fish type: crab, tuna, salmon, eel, and shrimp. This technique allows us to explore new rolls and balance our meal so we don't have four rolls of just salmon--life wouldn't be horrible if that decision was made, but variety really is the spice of life. We chose the Spicy Mary roll (we had a Mary in our trio) with crab and tuna, the Dragon Roll with eel, the Crunchy Roll with shrimp, and the Fruits Roll with fruit, obviously. We'll catch up with the salmon next time.
Crunchy Roll: Shrimp is featured

The breakdown: The appetizer Seaweed Salad is a maritime way to start your sushi adventure. It has varied textures, sesame seed freckles, and it is fun to eat. The Gyoza were so succulent that we were fighting for the last pieces. Gyoza are fan-like dumplings that have a pork mixture made up principally of onions and ground pork but you can add peppers or anything else you want inside, you just need the patience to assemble and fry them--Oishii did a fine job for us.

The sushi rolls were brought out one by one, a detail that I greatly appreciate. Sometimes sushi places bring out all of your sushi rolls on a gigantic plate, so you are overwhelmed with the choices. If you are sharing, it just isn't the same experience as when you all enjoying the the same roll together. So, well done Oishii on that as well. The first roll we had was the Crunchy Roll. This is a cooked roll, tempura fried. The Crunchy Roll included shrimp, cucumber, spicy mayonnaise and eel sauce. It was different from the Crunchy Rolls I have had before, which were piled high with tempura chips and difficult to eat. This roll was perfectly compact and still preserved its mouthfeel: that crunchy crunchy!
Spicy Mary Roll: Crab and Tuna are featured.

Next we had the Spicy Mary, which was the all-inclusive crab and tuna tour. The presentation on this roll is stunning. I love the pink and red contrasted with the green of the avocado and the drizzle of the spicy mayo on top of it all. If it is delightful to look at, you better believe it is going to taste marvelous. The spicy crab inside the roll always has an interesting texture for me. The mixture is prepared and the fibers of the crab separate to make almost vermicelli-like crab noodles (that's the best comparison I can do for those who have never tried it) held together by spicy mayonnaise. The avocado adds some substance along with its beautiful color, and the smoothness of the avocado leads into a nice chew with the crab. On top of the roll is fresh tuna, and look at that vibrant red, it's shining like rubies on top of your sushi roll. Classy. All together, this roll is aesthetically pleasing and a surprising pop of texture in the mouth. Something else I love? The mountain of ginger that comes with every sushi dish! Pickled ginger is delicately spiced, great for settling the stomach and clearing the palate for the next roll to come.
Dragon Roll: Eel is featured.
The majestic Dragon Roll was presented next. To be honest, I am partial to the eel rolls. First off, Unagi (the Japanese name for eel) is a unique fish that I don't get to eat everyday, and second because the fish is so sweet it makes everything else yield to its power. Eel rolls generally come with avocado because the smoothness balances the texture of the eel, which is soft but with a notable crunch. The Dragon roll at Oishii includes the eel, cucumber, and avocado with tobico roe (the beautiful red sphere topping). The gentle little pops of the roe with the explosion of flavor in that tiny bite makes this roll an experience to eat. Plus, if you have never tried eel, I recommend this or the Geisha roll (with tempura banana, avocado and eel--my favorite!).

Finally, we rounded off the meal with a Fruits Roll. We deem this the dessert roll of all dessert rolls. Inside the nori (seeweed wrapper, or the dark green line between the inside and the rice), we have avocado and tempura banana. Tempura is the flash frying batter technique used by the Japanese to create culinary joy. The banana will be slightly warm, but it won't melt everything around it. That is a welcome feeling alongside the cool avocado. Then, it is covered in carefully cut mangoes and strawberries and rolled up together. On top of it all, this roll has crushed nuts and eel sauce to complete the Fruits Roll package. Pure beauty. It satisfies the sweet tooth and is a great way to conclude your sushi tour.

Oishii sushi is hands-down my favorite sushi restaurant in Louisville, and I promise you that I have tried almost all of them. They have a relationship with their neighborhood, the price is right, there is no feeling of pretension, the sushi guys and the service are wonderfully friendly and professional, and the menu is as diverse as the rest of them. This doesn't mean it is the end-all sushi restaurant of the world, it just means it is a good fit for me, and for that this Louisville Lady Gourmet recommends it to you all. If you have a favorite roll or experience at Oishii, I would love to hear about it--just put it in the comment section!
Kanpai! (Cheers)!

Oishii Sushi
2810 Taylorsville Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Phone: (502)365-3474
Email: They have a contact form on their website <>

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