The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yes, but is it sushi?

I was reading our freelancer Gil Kaufman's review of Moy's Pacific Rim restaurant and sushi bar in Kenwood. I've been meaning to go there for awhile, because I always liked Kim Moy's other restaurant, Moy Moy's (so many restaurants, so little time. . .) Anyway, Kim is making and developing all kinds of sushi--surf and turf, veal, feta cheese, etc.

Which may all be delicious. But the question is: Is it sushi? And the next question is: does it matter whether it is or not?

I have a hard time with this, particularly when I'm reviewing a restaurant that serves sushi. I think classic sushi, especially nigiri sushi, is one of the most inspired food creations ever, and a pretty-near perfect thing to eat. Vinegared rice, a dab of wasabi, a morsel of raw or lightly cooked fish, a touch of soy sauce. Simple, beautiful, inexplicably delicious. Rolls are the next-best, with the nori wrapper, and a more varied range of things inside. So I hated it when sushi bars started making rolls with 10 things in them, with spicy tuna and ranch dressing and cream cheese, etc. But there's no way to hold the line--these rolls are the reality of American sushi bars and it seems like snobbery to ignore or disdain all of them--worse, it just seems irrelevant, like griping about kids playing video games. (And, let me just say before the comments begin, please eat whatever sushi you'd like. I won't try to stop you.)

Does anyone else share my wish for better, simple sushi and less playing around with the form? Or am I hopelessly out of fashion? Is there an unusual sushi you've had in town that you think worked well?


at 12:41 PM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

I really like the sushi at The Green Papaya in Oakley but I think it would be classified as the type that has "10 things in them". It tastes fresh, is colorful, and is reasonably priced. I had sushi at Beluga one time, and thought it was overpriced and I was paying more for atmosphere. I also think the sushi at Biggs is decent.

Why can't we get a sushi restaurant downtown is what I want to know? I have to admit I have not been to Ko Sho or ordered it from Benihana which are the two suggestions I usually get. Ko Sho just seems a little too "hole in wall for me" and at Benihana, I go for the grill.

at 2:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why wasn't there any mention of 1 night 12 kitchens on this blog.

at 2:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was, on Friday April 11th. The heading is FYI . . . in bold type.

at 2:53 PM Blogger Kel Klump said...

I was tired of the overpriced and fancy atmosphere of many of the regular sushi places I have been in Cincinnati. My boyfriend took me to JoAn. I was a little leary at first not having tasted many of the items on the menu ever. I loved their sushi. Its traditional, nothing fancy or full of ingredients. You will spend some money but its worth getting a good plate once and a while. I can say we do have to pick up a few rolls from Kroger every once in a while and are never disapointed. I do agree that downtown needs a sushi bar. Living down here we would love to grab sushi on a week night or even for a lunch.

at 4:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite. I've mentioned them many a time before...Tokyo Japan in Sharonville is the best sushi in town. Great prices and the fish is very fresh and tasty. Ask Eric, the sushi chef to whip you up something special (also ask him what is the freshest he will give you good advice). He makes some GREAT rolls that are unique and not on the regular menu.

They also have a $19.95 all you can eat from 11am-2pm daily (sushi only).

There are always regulars in there, which to me is a good sign.

I hate to sound like a shill, but it's the best place we've found in Cincinnati. On Chester Road.

at 4:52 PM Blogger vudutu said...

I have yet to get good Sushi in Cincinnati, always willing to try variations but I have not seen much. Because of Toyota the Japanese restaurants in Northern Kentucky are the best, somewhat in order, Matsuya, Miyosh, JoAn, Aoi and Chung Ki Wha. They are as good as you will find anywhere.

at 9:49 PM Blogger liz said...

i like both traditional sushi and more creative rolls. there is a place in my belly for both!

for fun rolls, i really like dancing wasabi and green papaya. for more traditional sushi, i like mei in montgomery and ando in blue ash (or is it the other way around?)

ko sho = kind of weird. some coworkers and i tried to go for lunch once. there were 2 tables of people there and they told us there was an hour wait. what??? we did go back another time and it was ok, but a weird, blah atmosphere and totally bored service. but it is better than nothing i suppose.

i definitely want to get out to try the places by the airport! i keep hearing about them.

at 11:08 PM Blogger WestEnder said...

Polly, I wonder if you've been to Moy Moy's recently; back in the 90s I ate there occasionally and liked it. But the past few years I've been disappointed. Particularly horrific is the lo-mein for the reason I mentioned here.

Bad experiences at Moy Moy's has kept me away from trying Pacific Rim.

And as far as the "is it sushi?" matter, I believe "sushi" means "rice" so I suppose it can be anything, not just fish. I wonder if they have whale and dolphin sushi in Japan (since they eat both those animals).

Nice to see you're posting more often.

at 10:31 AM Blogger Polly Campbell said...

No, I haven't been to Moy Moy's in a long time. I don't think Kim has been involved for awhile.

Agree about JoAn. wonderful adventures to be had there. And it was the first place I ever had fresh wasabi. That's something to put on your life list of things to try. the other Kentucky Japanese, Miyoshi and Matsuya,are also good places to try simple, classic sushi so you have an idea of sushi at its best. another one that people keep saying I should try is Kyoto in Symmes township. (SMR, SLT)

Re: 1 night 12 kitchens: i'm always happy to tell people about anything that I have the information on. People just have to send me a press release or e-mail me.

So, no sushi purists here? No sushi that simply takes the concept two or three steps too far?

sushi downtown: Ah, what a lovely dream. i would eat it all the time. It's weird, because there's sushi everywhere else.

at 10:24 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

As long as it includes the rice mixture, it's sushi. I don't mind creativity. I think the most unique roll I've ever had was an Alaskan roll in Vancouver that included mustard.

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