Off the hook

Head chef Resty Merilles preparing maki rolls behind the bar at Tokyo Sushi.

Head chef Resty Merilles preparing maki rolls behind the bar at Tokyo Sushi.

Photo/Allison Young

Tokyo Sushi is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sushi restaurateurs in our Biggest Little City of sushi lovers have their work cut out for them. Creativity, service and freshness must be notable to stand out, and Tokyo Sushi is doing everything it can to make a big splash.

All-you-can-eat sushi is $17.95 for lunch, $23.95 for dinner. Throughout our meal the service was friendly and efficient. Free hot sake is available Monday through Thursday with AYCE. The quality was above average and served at just the right temperature.

My wife, son and I tried a handful of the 16 appetizers. Cucumber salad was simple, just cubes dressed in rice vinegar. Miso soup was served at a nice warm temperature with plenty of scallion, tofu and nori. Baked mussels were very good with a spicy kick. My previously mussel-averse wife declared these to be the best in town, to which my son agreed. An order of hot crab balls included two crunchy, piping hot tempura fried morsels of crab meat served on a bed of cabbage, drizzled with spicy and sweet sauces.

All the sushi ordered featured an outstanding fish-to-rice ratio. As such, the three of us put down a wider variety than would be possible with a higher volume of rice. The slices of fish on nigiri pieces were what I consider a perfect one-bite size, though the lighter-than-average use of rice made them appear quite generous. Eel was the one exception, seeming a bit small by comparison to the other pieces ordered, but still great on flavor.

Nigiri ordered included salmon, smoked salmon, peppered tuna (zesty goodness), seared tuna, yellowtail, scallops (just barely cooked, as requested), snapper, freshwater eel, and octopus that was so tender my son decided to give it a try. Since he was feeling adventurous, he and I also shared orders of squid and mackerel. Fresh squid can be akin to chewing on ear cartilage, but this was almost as tender as the octopus. As an oily fish, mackerel tends to be a bit “fishy” and spoils quickly. This mackerel was among the best I’ve tasted in Reno.

Mickey Mouse (seared tuna, spicy crab, avocado), Donald Duck (salmon, spicy crab, lemon, avocado) and Daffy nigiri (tempura salmon, avocado, crab mix) are items I think of as “compound nigiri,” more than a single piece of fish on rice. All three were good examples of the form.

The application of sauces showed restraint—which I appreciate—allowing the ingredients of the maki rolls to shine through. Our sushi parade included Snow White (cooked salmon, jalapeño, cream cheese, fresh salmon, lemon, and crab mix), The Chao (tempura shrimp, crab mix, cucumber, tuna, salmon, lemon, avocado, cilantro), Sierra (crystal shrimp, avocado, assorted fish. crab mix), 3 Colors (crab mix, cucumber, avocado, lemon, assorted fish, tobiko), Tokyo (crab mix, crystal shrimp, tuna, salmon, avocado, scallop, masago), Hot Bae (salmon, crab mix, jalapeño, lemon, yellowtail), and Black Angel (crystal shrimp, avocado, pepper tuna, salmon, crab mix, masago, black tobiko, scallion). The artistry, flavors, and textures were excellent. There wasn’t a single roll we didn’t enjoy.

I always have to try at least one hand roll, and the Snow (crystal shrimp, avocado, salmon, tuna, crab mix) didn’t disappoint. Wrapped in a nice, tight cone of dry, crisp nori, it both looked and tasted fabulous.

Rather than the usual frozen green tea confection for dessert, we each finished our prodigious meal with a very refreshing scoop of huckleberry ice cream. Here’s hoping Tokyo Sushi can maintain their high standards in our competitive market, because right now they’re outpacing the rest of the pack.