Stuffed silly

Get ready to stuff your face: a variety of sushi rolls at Ijji Sushi.

Get ready to stuff your face: a variety of sushi rolls at Ijji Sushi.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

Ijji Sushi

685 E. Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 828-6689

I had never eaten sushi with a Frenchman before, and I wasn’t quite prepared for the experience. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I met our friends, Manny and Christina, down the road at Ijji Sushi. The restaurant opened last year within walking distance of their house, and they’ve been regulars ever since. After hearing their praise, I had to try it and see for myself. While I left not quite as enamored, Ijji Sushi did have some good things to offer.

For starters, the setting is funky and inviting. The space is wide open, with deep red walls and a dark wooden bar that wraps through the room, supplying curves that form perfect corners so that a foursome can enjoy the service of a sushi bar and still be able to face each other. My husband said his cool status went up 20 points just walking in. It was quite busy for a Sunday; the long and windy bar was full of young hipsters out for trendy food. Unfortunately, the trendy food didn’t quite match up to the promise of the décor.

We ordered all you can eat—and set out to get our money’s worth. For $15.95, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can have the lunch menu, or $20.95 for the dinner. For lunch, you are limited to the top portion of the menu, which features solely nigiri and handrolls. For long roll and specialty lovers, the dinner special is the way to go. While it might have been proper to say we began with a long roll or two and spiced things up occasionally with nigiri, it would also be a lie. We ordered everything at once, and then repeated the process for two hours: octopus ($3.75), eel ($3.95), ocean fire hand rolls (spicy tuna, crab, avocado, green onions; $5.75), ijji long rolls (unagi, cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna, scallops; $13.95), sierra rolls (spicy tuna, avocado, lemon; $7.95), Godzilla deluxe rolls (yellow tail, hot sauce, avocado, seared tuna, teriyaki with crab; $12.95), quail eggs ($4.50), salmon nigiri ($3.50), upside down shrimp ($3.95) and yellow tail ($4.25). And that’s just the tip of the glut-berg.

Now, I have lived in France; I understand the French people’s passion for all things culinary. But Manny positively amazed us. I am not exaggerating when I say somewhere in the Pacific a mammoth octopus family is missing its father. Of course, if that is the case, then I suppose I disposed of the mother. But no matter. When eating sushi, one is able to do this, with proper respites and breathing exercises.

So why on Earth would we eat so much if we didn’t find the food all that great? A couple reasons. Money, for one—it was, after all, all-we-could-eat. Second, some of the food was very good, and some items—the octopus, for example—were better than good. They were great. The Sierra roll was delicious, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had such tender salmon nigiri. The same goes for the seared tuna. That said, I was served the worst unagi I’ve ever had. The eel was positively drenched in sauce. And small. And tepid. I ate both pieces, but regrettably, and didn’t order another. We all agreed that, while the Godzilla was “edible,” we’ve had much better. The same went for the hand rolls.

The quail eggs … well, this was my first time having them, and I don’t think I’m the one to comment. Manny, on the other hand, claims that after one gets past the egg exploding in the mouth, the tastes that erupt are quite like heaven. Feel free to go with the Frenchman on this one—I’m probably a bit of a rube, anyway.

All said, we had a great time and stuffed ourselves silly. It’s a fun place to go, and it’s a great deal for a wide variety of sushi. But for those who, in principle, never eat sushi that is merely “edible,” there are other places in town. Ijji Sushi is an option, and a good one. But it’s just one of many.