Sushi lovers agree this town doesn't have any really, really exciting sushi options right now, so when a possibility comes along, they all start buzzing. After the fourth person had raved about Oishi and asked me if I'd been, it was time to check it out. Plus, pal and blog editor Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project and his amazing family love it. They wanted to show me their new favorite spot.
In Indiana, we've all become too used to lazy sushi. Sure, the fish might be fresh (there's just no excuse if it's not), but restaurants shortcut the rice or use the wrong kind. They sell only tuna, salmon, eel, fake Krab, and "crunch" rolls because customers don't want -- or won't eat -- anything else. When a real sushi fan comes along, chefs are mysteriously out of anything even vaguely interesting -- snapper, mackerel, yellow tail. But not Oishi. While I wouldn't call them the single best, I'd definitely say their fish selection alone bumps them into the top tier of sushi joints in the city today. Certainly, it's well above average.
At Oishi, our sushi feast included both saba and the Japanese saba with traditional and well executed rainbow and dragon rolls. (We skipped the interesting sounding but unfortunately-named "Afghanistan Roll" described as "erupting with spicy shrimp.") Fresh was the word with not only our sushi but the cooked dishes. Potstickers were cooked correctly (steamed, then pan fried) and again, very traditional, which translates to "not super-sized." The teriyaki dishes featured tender meat on crisp vegetables and the sukiyaki was hot, sweet, and loaded with thinly sliced beef, glass noodles, bamboo, shitaki mushrooms, and the most flavorful silken tofu I've had in a long time. (It was like a delicate flan, perfect in texture, sourced from their Japanese supplier.)
Go for the tatami rooms for groups of 5 or 6 (and leave your shoes at the door). The menu is about half cooked items and half sushi/sashimi, but if you like sushi and live on the east side, you finally have an option. Service isn't perfect, but much can be forgiven for the quality. And don't forget they're open for lunch.
These days, there's a mini-Renaissance happening in Irvington when it comes to restaurants including Jockamo's Pizza and Edibles of Irvington. You can add Oishi Sushi to the list. It's not blow-your-mind good, but it's good and a worthy addition to the neighborhood.
Find it just off Shadeland at 10th.