Sushido Tacoma is a full-circle rotation for its strip-mall location.
The all-purpose sushi-bento-teriyaki restaurant I Love Bento once operated in that location. I admired its greatest hits of Japanese and Korean dining, affordable prices and the kind gesture of a hot towel between courses for sticky hands.
Then, Sushido Tacoma opened May 8 in that plum spot on South Mildred Street, bringing the restaurant full circle to a menu much like I Love Bento. It’s not a higher-end sushi destination the likes of Fujiya or Gari of Sushi, but more of an all-purpose neighborhood find. There’s sushi with an emphasis on maki rolls, plus teriyaki, noodles, soups, bento and a few Korean dishes. Prices are right for the neighborhood, which means nearby Tacoma Community College students can afford to eat there (as they can at nearby Kim Anh and El Sabor).
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The restaurant, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, got a real makeover with new flooring, cushy bench seating and a vast improvement in lighting.
This is the second restaurant for Joe Chang and Ana Kim, who opened the original Sushido in downtown Auburn four years ago. The couple have six children who, of course, work at the restaurant.
Daughter Sharon Chang, who is the third of the six children, said her family’s style of sushi is approachable for neophytes.
“People like our sauces. Our deep-fried rolls are popular. It’s not traditional hardcore Japanese sushi. It’s a good place to start for people who haven’t had sushi before,” Chang said.
Here’s a first-bite look of Sushido with menu notes. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Dining room: The layout of the 82-seat dining room has improved, with the sushi counter returned to the spot where it once resided at I Love Bento. Large tables for big parties plus improved banquette seating also are available. The raised dining area in the back offers more secluded seating.
Nigiri: 25 choices of nigiri, $4-$18, with unusual finds not every sushi restaurant features, such as toro (tuna belly) and geoduck.
Maki: More than 40 rolls, priced $6.95-$14.95, with a bulk of the rolls built on the foundation of a California roll with different fish and sauce toppers. The style of sushi resembles Trapper’s, the local restaurant chain that favors big flavors and overflowing ingredients.
Also serving: Katsu, yakisoba and teriyaki ($8.95-$13.95) and bento boxes ($15.95-$16.95) alongside ramen and udon ($6.95-$9.95). A nod to the family’s Korean heritage shows up in rice cake dumpling soup and bulgogi ($10.95-$13.95).
Free stuff: Miso soup and edamame.
Try: Sorry, even this jaded food writer can occasionally succumb to the lure of sushi set on fire. It’s sushi theater, with a bulky roll nestled into foil with a ring of fire burning six inches tall. It takes a few minutes for the fire to subside before you can dig into the California roll topped with baked salmon and a zippy pile of diced raw tuna ($12.95).
The restaurant’s namesake Sushido roll is an overtly large affair with three-bite slices of unagi and shrimp tempura topped with tuna and a rainbow array of fish eggs ($14.95). A tuna roll that was more tuna than rice was as simple as it gets ($8.95). A spider roll was also straightforward, rolled tightly and nicely displayed on a board ($10.95).
Also find: Beer, wine and sake.
Where: 1620 S. Mildred St., Tacoma; 253-566-7119; bit.ly/2nt2Ktn.