Surf and turf

A busy, bustling recent night at Reef's sushi bar.

A busy, bustling recent night at Reef's sushi bar.

Photo By Allison Young

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I’ve lived in Reno a long time. Long enough to remember the days when the river was sort of a forgotten feature of downtown. I’m so glad that over the recent years, the river area has become a focal point to draw people downtown. Reef Sushi & Sake is using that draw to their advantage and opened space along the Truckee River about five months ago.

Walking in for lunch with my friends Annette and Alys, I was impressed by the upscale décor, which has a rock waterfall feature, a long sushi bar, dark wooden tables and turquoise accent walls. We were escorted to a back table by the window, which gave us a nice view of the river. Reef has a great patio area outside as well.

We settled in with our cucumber water—fancy!—and looked over the menu which offered unique items. I’ve eaten at a lot of sushi places around Reno, and this has to be one of the more creative menus I’ve seen. In order to try a variety of items, we opted to go for the all-you-can-eat dinner option ($25.95) as the lunch option ($18.95) offers restricted number of rolls. I felt the dinner price was a bit steep, but then I noticed they used real crab and all was forgiven.

We decided to start with some appetizers. The choices were crazy, ranging from mussels to crab cakes. We went with endame and stuffed mushrooms. What? Stuffed mushrooms at a sushi place? Heck yes! When the mushrooms arrived, they were breaded and stuffed with cream cheese and crab pieces. I could have just had these and some nigiri and been happy since the nigiri menu had some surprises like pepper and barbecue-seared tuna.

We had to try the Surf and Turf which comes with lobster and tri-tip. Steak in my sushi? Reef was blowing my mind. The roll was definitely unique, but the tri-tip seemed to overpower the roll so I think smaller slices of the tri tip would have helped. We also tried a Diamondhead, which came with hamachi, scallops, asparagus and mango. The asparagus was sliced too thickly, but I loved the crunch and flavor of the asparagus paired with the sweetness of the mango. One of my favorites of the night was the spicy bomb which was tofu skin filled with spicy tuna, topped with chopped scallions. The sweetness of the tofu skin went nicely with the spiciness of the tuna.

Reef also offers some rolls that are torched. I like to see things lit on fire, so we ordered the Pahoehoe, which was stuffed with scallops, crab and crystal shrimp and topped with salmon, then covered in unagi and Reef sauce and set ablaze. Unfortunately, the sauces overwhelmed all of the flavors of this roll and was far too rich.

Overall, I think conceptually the rolls are great, they just seem to need a bit of fine tuning. Reef also suffers from some service issues. Our waiter, while extremely friendly, was MIA throughout the meal. Lunch took nearly two hours, and it wasn’t because we were eating a ton. At one point, Alys brought our second and final order to the bar herself, where she still stood ignored. Complimentary sake drinks were offered to make up for the lack of attention and let’s be honest, free alcohol helps everything, but they need to tighten up service. Reef Sushi & Sake is still fairly new, so hopefully they will sort out some of these issues because they have interesting food, a beautiful restaurant and a great location.