Nov 162005
Authors: Brandon Lowrey

Katie Kelley, the veteran restaurant reviewer who normally appears here, is "out" for this week's adventurous sushi review. You see, Katie is a firm believer in the old cliche "you are what you eat," and she eats a hell of a lot of chicken.

For sushi neophytes and connoisseurs alike, Suehiro Japanese Restaurant, 223 Linden St., is worth a try if you have a little bit of extra cash to spare. Those who've already been to the clean and semi-elegant restaurant probably wouldn't need much convincing. And no, you aren't a sushi connoisseur if you enjoy the rolls with cream cheese in them.

Suehiro's cozy tearoom might be the icing on the cake for the initiated. But for those who don't know sushi or Suehiro, it might be doing a disservice – it appears gimmicky. But let me clear the air here: With the quality of the sushi here, gimmicks – like having the waitress ask you to take off your shoes and put them in a cubbyhole, kindergarten-style – are far from necessary.

The fish is surprisingly fresh considering the restaurant sits in the middle of a landlocked, mountain state. And fresh fish is essential when it comes to sushi. The best, and freshest, sushi doesn't have an overpowering fishy taste. I recommend going with the fresh pick of the day, which is scribbled on a sign out in front of the restaurant.

Judging from what was on my plate – cooked eel sushi and albacore roll – it was fresher than I would have guessed. The eel was tender and glazed in sweet sauce, and the albacore was soft and flavorful.

The atmosphere was modern but comfortable. The floors were wooden, along with the tables, and the place sported traditional Japanese dcor.

The tearoom is carpeted, so diners are expected to remove their footwear before stepping on the carpet. Then, diners are expected to put their shoes in those kindergarten-style cubbies I mentioned earlier.

Then, with naked feet (unless you're wearing socks), diners are set to sit on a pillow in front of a low table. There's a depression beneath the table, so their legs can hang down.

I'm not sure if this is how the Japanese usually eat, but it's not all that bad, if you can get over feeling just a little bit ridiculous (the outstanding saki usually helps with that). If you have poor posture, though, try and grab the side along a wall, because otherwise there's no support for your back.

Everyone at the table is served a bowl of hot miso soup, which is great but salty, along with a cup of cucumber salad.

And then the sushi arrived, and it was good. Except for the stuff with the cream cheese. Though partially tasty, it's still like a eating a soggy, seaweed bagel. But if you stick to the fresh fish, even the staunchest of seafood-haters might come around.

The dessert is something anyone could enjoy. With tempura ice cream, a ball of ice cream surrounded by a crispy tempura-batter shell, in more flavors than some would imagine – like red bean, green tea and plum wine – the treat will end the meal on a sweet note.

I wholeheartedly recommend Suehiro if you just want something different and it's payday, or maybe you won a small cash prize in the lottery or robbed a liquor store.

Brandon Lowrey is the regional editor for the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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