The first thing I noticed at Kei Sushi—Reno’s latest addition to Reno’s all-you-can-eat sushi scene—was the lack of order sheets on the tables. They make up for this by having very attentive table service. My group and I were never lacking food or beverages. The cost is $18.95 for lunch and $24.95 for dinner.
For starters, we sampled gyoza (potstickers), eggrolls, baked mussels, miso soup, cucumber salad and dragon balls—tempura fried jalapeño rings stuffed with shrimp, spicy krab and cream cheese. The potstickers and eggrolls were crispy. The thin-sliced cucumber was doused in plenty of seasoned rice vinegar and sesame. The mussels were nicely done with scallion, sriracha, shoyu, ponzu and kewpie mayo. Unfortunately, the miso was barely warm and quite salty, with big slices of raw mushroom floating on top. Least effective were the battered jalapeño rings, which were raw and fell apart when picked up.
The simplicity of nigiri sushi is my favorite. It’s most often just individual bites of rice and fish. I ordered octopus, freshwater eel, seared tuna, seared scallop, smoked salmon, fresh salmon, mackerel, yellowtail, snapper and escolar. All of the fin fish was good. The fish-to-rice ratio was decent. The seared scallop was particularly good, and the mackerel—a strong, oily fish that can turn quickly—was surprisingly mild and fresh tasting. Sadly, the octopus was quite tough, and the “only one order per person” unagi slices were dwarfed by the amount of rice they were served atop.
The list of specialty nigiri sounded good, so I ordered one of each: rooster salmon with lemon, pickled jalapeño and spicy krab; Kei seared tuna with crystal mix, scallop sauce, sriracha and teriyaki; upside down shrimp with avocado, scallop and teriyaki; salmon lover with scallop sauce, pickled jalapeño, salmon skin and scallion; fireball tuna topped with spicy tuna, fried onion and teriyaki; and a quail egg shooter with ponzu, sriracha, sesame seed, scallion and tobiko. Although I appreciated the flavor combinations and creativity, the size of each piece was a bit daunting—even for my big mouth. Each one was nearly too large for a single bite and required manhandling lest it fall apart. Of particular note was the shooter, which featured a sharply sour punch that was not for the faint of heart.
From the hand roll selection, a cooked scallop, tobiko and scallion Jason roll was very good, but the salmon skin roll could have actually used a bit more rice and less crispy fishiness. A little bit of salmon skin goes a long way, and I felt like I was crunching through a forest of fish chips—just not my jam, I guess.
My companions ordered a mix of fresh and baked long rolls, but I don’t know that any warrant further description. The rice ranged from gummy to chewy to wet, and none had any flavor I’d care to experience again. At least two were just plain gross. Based on the overall quality of the nigiri, I’m willing to assume that there are better rolls on the menu.
We finished with a shared, five-piece Miami dessert roll comprised of tempura banana, cream cheese, pecans and mango, drizzled with peach, strawberry and chocolate sauces and sprinkled with coconut flakes. The sweet stuff was OK, but it suffered from the addition of too much rice. Next time I’ll stick with the green tea ice cream.