Lauren Murphy | Asst. Photo EditorSpice Rack
Roll with it: Despite minor setbacks, local sushi restaurant proves superior to competition
Each semester at Syracuse University, my taste buds suffer from being deprived of quality sushi. Between Oishi Sushi’s less-than-fresh options and Bleu Monkey Cafe’s over-the-top rolls, it’s enough to put my sushi cravings on hold.
To my relief, one of my roommates sent me to Ocean Sushi, where the rolls are simple, fresh and, sometimes, set on fire. When stacked up against more campus-central eateries, Ocean Sushi’s unique rolls and high-quality sushi is a refreshing and superior choice.
With past years of deprivation in mind, both my eyes and my stomach were craving some edible art. My dining partner and I decided to be all about sushi.
We ordered two rolls each and all the food arrived at once. The Playboy Roll ($12.99), however, had its own special plate. The whole roll was wrapped in tinfoil for reasons that were unclear until our waitress, Audra Funicello, set the oil-covered plate on fire, and bright, blue-tipped flames danced around the tinfoil-covered roll.
This process helps enhance the natural flavors of the roll, packed with spicy tuna, tempura chips and asparagus, and adds a nice, crisp texture to the shrimp tempura inside and the shrimp on top, Funicello said.
The first bite of this roll was a true testament to the fire technique — intensified flavors and an enjoyable blend of hot and cold. But after 10 minutes, this roll was chewy and the warmed rice was stuck to the tinfoil, which was difficult to peel off.
I quickly turned to some of my favorite sashimi options: salmon, fatty tuna and super white tuna to cool off my pallet. The sashimi arrived almost unnoticeably on the edge of the plate, but that didn’t hide the great quality of these perfectly sliced pieces. Each fish’s natural flavor was notably strong, and each bite was buttery smooth and rich with natural oils — a good mark of great freshness.
But not all of Ocean Sushi’s a la carte items can be enjoyed any time. The menu is seasonal, and the restaurant likes it to reflect the season’s best selections.
“People will order sea urchin, and I hate to tell them, ‘We don’t have that,’” Funicello said. “But it’s a good way of keeping things fresh and new.”
Picking up my next roll, I was curious to see what the gold was in the Golden California Roll ($6.50). It turns out it’s the perfectly crisp, golden tempura crust deliciously surrounding every bite-sized roll. The inside of this roll is all-around simple — crab stick, avocado and a little too much cream cheese. But the tempura crust, which wasn’t heavy or greasy, acted as a nice contrast of textures with the softer components inside.
Next, I dug into the Salmon Lover’s Roll ($11.99). As a salmon enthusiast, I was disappointed that this roll wasn’t packed with salmon. Instead, it was a simple California Roll with slices of salmon sashimi dressed on top. Though the flavors were clean, this salmon lover wasn’t in love and was equally unhappy with the hefty price tag.
The Flyers Roll ($11.99) was by far the shining star of our choices. With spicy tuna, masago and cucumber inside, and fresh white tuna on top, each bite was bursting with bold flavors. The amount of mayonnaise sauce drizzled delicately on top enhanced the white tuna’s flavor, and the sprinkle of green onions on top added a crisp crunch that made it clear this roll’s perfection is in the details.
Beyond all the bells and whistles, an authentic sushi place requires key components to make it truly great: attentive service, a tranquil environment and unique, refreshing flavor combinations. Though Ocean Sushi had some stumbling points in construction and higher prices, it still is a strong contender in all of these categories and an answer to my sushi prayers.
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