Tasty aquatic beasts

Island Sushi owner Steve Soswa serves up a plate of fresh sushi to regular Jenny Grimm, no relation to our film reviewer, Bob.

Island Sushi owner Steve Soswa serves up a plate of fresh sushi to regular Jenny Grimm, no relation to our film reviewer, Bob.

Photo By David Robert

I’m a sucker for sushi and a sucker for binge dining. The combination of the two, all-you-can-eat sushi, makes for what is probably my favorite meal. A great thing about Reno is that there are now so many places offering this deal that you can’t even walk down the street without getting your face stuffed with raw fish—strange, since we’re a desert town. Many sushi regulars are loyalists to their favorite haunts, but I love the variety. A new discovery, and definitely one worth trying, is Island Sushi.

Island Sushi has an $18.95 all-you-can-eat dinner. The extensive menus are confusing and visually cluttered, but this is a side effect of the wide range of sushi offered. Only two of the four people in my sushi party, David Bruce and I, opted for all-you-can-eat. But we had a grand time, mostly sticking to the long list of long rolls.

I really liked the Golden Tiffanie ($6.50 for à la carte), deep-fried clam, crystal shrimp, chives, cucumber and spicy sake sauces. The Very S & M ($5.75) was tasty, with salmon, jalapeno and cream cheese. David Bruce scored with the avocado-draped Caterpillar roll ($9) and the Playo Blanco ($5.95) with seared red snapper that he eloquently described as “very good.”

My finicky girlfriend, Danielle, actually ordered Sushi rice balls, just rolls of sticky rice with no fish—our friend Nicole commented later that the rationed rice balls were basically “concentration camp food.” Danielle also enjoyed the soybean-popping fun of edamame. She got frustrated later because she wanted dessert, and they were out of most of the dessert items, including a strawberry chocolate treat called “Strawberry Fields.” I would have made fun of her for ordering something because it referenced her favorite band had I not earlier ordered something called a “Dylan roll” because I suspected it might have been named after my favorite singer.

Danielle was especially disappointed that they didn’t have “Strawberry Fields” because she had convinced Nicole to split it with her.

“I’ll try anything once,” said Nicole, “as long as it didn’t have a mother.”

“So you’ll eat seahorses?” asked David Bruce. “They don’t really have mothers, just fathers.”

Though Island Sushi does offer a wide range of tasty aquatic beasts, from salmon to octopus, there are, sadly, no seahorse rolls.

Nicole was impressed by the vegetarian selection, though she conceded, “There’s not a lot of variation with veggie rolls. But they’re usually either really good or really bad, and these definitely fall in the good category.”

What makes for good veggie rolls is, of course, fresh and crisp vegetables. No one likes rancid, slimy, wilted vegetables (except insects). But it’s also important that the rice and vegetables are well-balanced. At some lackluster sushi bars, the veggie rolls are giant balls of rice with one cucumber and one sprout. At Island Sushi, the rolls are brimming with fresh ingredients.

This is true of the fish rolls as well, though I must admit I was drawn to the tempura-fried, sauce-heavy rolls a little too often when I should have been sticking with the simpler, rawer, fishier rolls. The fish was excellent, the albacore tuna, for example, cool and soft on the tongue. The heavier rolls are more filling, which makes it difficult if you’re trying to maximize your all-you-can-eat buck. Besides, the traditional rolls are often just better—especially when they’re fresh and well-prepared, like they are at Island Sushi.