Fish out of water

Chef Steve Gertsma prepares California rolls at Sushi Boat.

Chef Steve Gertsma prepares California rolls at Sushi Boat.


Sushi Boat is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Sushi Boat

1999 S Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 829-2115

For a desert town, Reno is a remarkably competitive place for sushi. With a number of commendable vendors, the enlightened connoisseur can afford to be choosy.

My husband and I recently sampled Sushi Boat. Located on the southwest corner of Virginia Street and Plumb Lane, Sushi Boat enjoys a convenient central location for downtowners with a raw-fish hankering. Decorum is fine, with a cocktail lounge off to the left as you walk in, and there are plenty of tables for family dining, although we sat at the counter connected to the sushi bar. Little boats with not-so-fresh-looking samples “floated” past on a conveyer in front of us. Sadly, not only did the fish look like it was getting on in days, the boats themselves were even dusty.

The service was generally good, although as we were the only diners on a weeknight, our waters might have been tended to with a little more rapidity. But our host and server were polite, and our sushi chef a quick and friendly pro. One curiosity: Perhaps owing to some language confusion, our server brought us a teapot full of hot water when we ordered “two waters” to drink. We looked at each other in puzzlement, but this did not detract from the quite good miso soup that preceded our selections. We started mixing our wasabi and soy in anticipation.

We went for the all you can eat ($17.95 per person for dinner). Over the course of an hour or so, all orders were served with prompt grace and friendliness. The best of the lot—which in fairness could probably go head to head with most sushi—was the happy long roll: cream cheese, crab, salmon and jalapeño. The unagi nigiri was also fairly good, and we had a second set. But, overall, it’s a little depressing to have merely satisfactory sushi when you know you could be having great sushi elsewhere. That’s what we kept thinking as we followed the happy roll with the San Francisco long roll (fried shrimp, eel, avocado), the spicy tuna (tuna in spicy sauce), the rainbow (crab, avocado, tuna, salmon, yellowtail) and the mountain (shrimp, salmon, yellowtail, spicy tuna). While all were adequate, we ordered seconds of none.

If sushi is not your thing, it could be that Sushi Boat does dinners better. They offer both Korean and Japanese lunches (from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and dinners, such as Ghal-bi: beef short ribs in special Korean barbecue sauce ($8.25 lunch, $14.95 dinner) and tonkatsu: a deep fried pork cutlet ($6.75 lunch, $10.95 dinner).

I often try to find metaphors for a restaurant when doing these reviews, and I think Sushi Boat’s tiny television where staff and clientele could watch NCAA basketball serves well. Small and distant, it served a purpose, but I longed for a big screen. Our Sushi Boat experience was not a smashing triumph, but if you’re nearby, have the sushi craving, and need a convenient downtown location, you might not regret dining there—although you could just as easily not regret dining elsewhere.