Something’s fishy

Sushi Moto’s sushi, like this crystal shrimp long roll, is some of the best in town.

Sushi Moto’s sushi, like this crystal shrimp long roll, is some of the best in town.

Photo By David Robert

Sushi Moto

748 South Meadows Pkwy.
Reno, NV 89521

(775) 853-4246

I love sushi, but it pisses me off when a sushi chef acts like he’s entitled to be a dick. I’ve noticed that the better the sushi is, the more likely it is that the chef will be arrogant and rude.

I was totally knocked out by the sushi at Sushi Moto, it’s easily some of the best in town, but man, have they got to do some customer service training with their chefs.

As soon as my friend Sara and I sat down, our chef was rushing us to order quickly because he’d “like to get out of here early.” This meant that instead of ordering a couple rolls at a time, he was serving us platters with multiple rolls and giving us no time to peruse the innovative menu. When we’d order, he’d roll his eyes and huff and puff like we weren’t worthy of his art. Admittedly, it was late, and I have sympathy for workers at any establishment that gets overrun just before closing, but we were just two happy and polite diners arriving more than a half hour before the posted closing time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s no excuse for shabby treatment.

Despite the thumbs-down on service, I’d still give Sushi Moto a high recommendation. The atmosphere’s terrific—equal parts lively and elegant—and the sushi is awesome. The lighting is unusually romantic for a sushi joint, the color scheme is heavy on understated browns and blues, and the onion-shaped, suspended table lights are very pretty. On the night we were in, they were cranking some rap music, which added an exciting note.

They do the all-you-can-eat thing ($21.95 for dinner), and the menu is diverse and a departure from many local spots. Instead of crusty, gargantuan atomic rolls that look ready to incinerate downtown Tokyo, Sushi Moto focuses on more subtle, finely calibrated flavors. Our favorites included the Sierra Secret long roll, with smoked trout, grilled asparagus, green onion and yamagobo. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what yamagobo is—some kind of vegetable? Normally, I’d ask the chef, but this guy didn’t seem like he’d appreciate my curiosity. It’s a great roll. The asparagus is an unusual touch that works well.

Another favorite that had us ooh-ing and aah-ing was the Spicy Ben Franklin, which gets my vote for best title, with tempura prawns, cilantro, cucumber, carrots and the odd taste to make the whole thing work wonders—macadamia nuts. The more traditional rolls, like the crystal shrimp, were also impressive. Nigiri pieces of fish, like the sake (salmon) and unagi (eel) were wonderful, large and flavor-packed.

They have a great vegetarian selection. Where most places offer up an obligatory cucumber roll with cucumber, a sliver of carrot, and maybe, if you’re lucky, avocado, at Sushi Moto, they have compelling offerings like the Pandora’s Box: grilled asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, roasted garlic and caramelized onions.

Because our chef was making us order in advance and in bulk, and because the eyes are larger than the stomach, we ordered more than we could handle and left with food still on our platters, which is embarrassing, amateurish and wasteful. But sushi is one of my favorite occasions for binge eating, so I kept eating and eating until I had to unbutton various buttons and request a wheel barrel to haul my fat ass out to the parking lot.

Sara, a model of restraint, was able to stop eating at a healthy point and perfectly summed up our meal: “This sushi is delicious, but that guy’s a little cranky.” An understatement on both counts.