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Review: Emiko's Sushi & Grill

June 30, 2009

UPDATE AUGUST 31 (actually September 15 because I simply saved this rather than published it…oops): I meant to do this previously, but I completely forgot. I will never, ever eat here again.
Here’s the problem: Joe and I went here a couple weeks ago, ordered probably the exact same thing listed below, substituting spicy tuna rolls for just tuna rolls.
I watched the sushi chef make the yellowtail rolls. I honestly thought he was making some kind of crabmeat roll for another table, because the fish was chopped up and looked to be mixed with something else.
It most definitely was. On the second piece, I was done, I nearly spit it out. It was disgusting.
Now, the REAL reason I will never touch this restaurant: the sushi was made with long grain rice. LONG. GRAIN. RICE. There is a reason the rice you use for sushi is called sushi rice. Here’s the key reason: when you try to pick up a piece of sushi with chopsticks, 99% of the time it’s not gonna fall apart before reaching your mouth. Guess what’s not true about long grain rice! Every single avocado roll piece fell apart on me. You cannot possibly be a sushi restaurant and use long grain rice. Period. No exceptions.

A year ago, if you said to me, “in a year you will have an insatiable desire for spicy tuna sushi rolls,” I would have laughed in your face. I never ventured beyond avocado and cucumber rolls. Now, I try to figure out what I should venture out to beyond tuna and yellowtail.
Emiko’s is the most recent place I’ve been to, and also more different than the usual places I’ve tried for sushi. There’s more to their menu than sushi, in a hybrid of Japanese-French style. Perhaps this will be worth a try on another visit, but for now it’s sushi.
The restaurant has a strange set up. The kitchen is open behind the sushi bar and the decor is sparse. It almost feels too dark, and at times it is most definitely too loud: I could barely hear Joe, who was sitting right next to me, while the ventilation was on for the stove. Not only were my ears punished, but so was my hair and my nose…I’m not sure how you work in a restaurant and I can do a better job of not making things smell like they’re burning down.
I was kind of put off by the idea of telling the server what sushi I wanted rather than mark it down myself, but it worked to an advantage. Avocado rolls were not listed right on the menu, and it was also the easier option in getting a bagel roll made with tuna rather than salmon. It’s always a plus when nobody forces you to stick to the menu, especially in a sushi restaurant. In fact, I think if they refused to make me a damn avocado roll, we would have walked right out.
Overall, all the sushi is great. Typically, you figure you get 6-8 pieces in one roll of sushi right? Not here, I felt like my eyes were bigger than my stomach when every single roll came in 10 rather large pieces. There’s not much to say in the way of avocado rolls, there’s not much of a way to ruin them other than to serve them rather warm (I’m looking at you, Hanabi Sushi. That was NOT room temperature.). The spicy chicken roll would have been better if the chicken hadn’t been overcooked, or soaked in the strange spicy sauce they use. Same goes for my spicy tuna rolls: I couldn’t even taste the tuna underneath the sauce. However, big bottles of sriracha hot sauce sit on the table, which is definitely my favorite form of spicing up sushi, so I consider it just a beginner error. Next time I’m there, I’ll just be getting plain old tuna rolls and treating them to a drizzle of sriracha. The bagel roll, normally a combination of salmon, cream cheese, and avocado, was awesome with tuna instead. And of course, the yellowtail rolls were excellent too. The fish tasted even fresher than our normal sushi standby.
For six rolls and a large bottle of sake, the total was $37 with tax. Not bad at all, especially considering even 4 1/2 hours later, I’m still feeling stuffed.
Overall, Emiko’s is a nice place. The sushi is a great value, fresh, and delicioius, the service is friendly, and for me, the location is perfect! They have specials nearly every weekday, including dollar nigiri on Tuesdays. Their list of specialty rolls is something I will definitely be back to look at soon.

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