TNT Diner

This new sushi restaurant has 70 kinds of sushi rolls. Here’s what else to try

Jin Sushi, new, in Lakewood

Jin Sushi opened more than a month ago in a strip mall in Lakewood in the middle of the Korean dining district. It has a diverse menu with 70 maki roll choices, nigiri, sashimi and classic Japanese dishes such as ramen, katsu and teriyaki.
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Jin Sushi opened more than a month ago in a strip mall in Lakewood in the middle of the Korean dining district. It has a diverse menu with 70 maki roll choices, nigiri, sashimi and classic Japanese dishes such as ramen, katsu and teriyaki.

By page three of nine, it was apparent that perusing the menu at Jin Sushi was going to take a few extra minutes.

Baked sushi rolls? Raw sushi rolls? Funky sushi rolls? Straightforward sushi rolls? It took a good 10 minutes to thumb through all five pages of sushi at Lakewood’s newest sushi restaurant. I stopped counting at 70 rolls. That doesn’t include the nigiri, sashimi, sashimi plates or sushi combo plates.

Jin Sushi opened on South Tacoma Way more than a month ago in a neighborhood filled with a jackpot of Korean and Japanese eating.

Across the intersection is a personal favorite — the sushi restaurant Kyoto — with a koi pond and dining room with a sense-of-place like no other in Lakewood.

Lakewood is a city filled with a broad intersection of sushi: Everything from the more meticulous presentation at Kyoto to the casual Happy Teriyaki to the region’s best food-court sushi at Sushi Niwa inside Paldo World.

Sushi eaters looking to classify Jin Sushi in the region’s sushi pantheon, here’s my five-second analysis.The presentation leans a little toward the oversized, heavily sauced style of sushi rolls that made Trapper’s regionally famous, but the presentation and selection at Jin probably is a little closer to Sushido, an all-purpose sushi and Japanese restaurant on Mildred near Tacoma Community College.

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A rainbow roll, front, and spicy tuna roll from Jin Sushi in Lakewood. Sue Kidd

Jin Sushi also is tucked into a strip-mall, just like Sushido. And Kyoto. Yes, we’re a region heavy on strip-mall sushi, which is something to celebrate. Some of the region’s most interesting restaurants are nestled between check-cashing emporiums and dry cleaners. Look beyond that nail salon to find your next best destination for sushi, your soon-to-be-new-favorite Thai food stop or the region’s only Mexican steakhouse.

Beyond sushi, Jin Sushi also specializes in three kinds of ramen, udon, katsu and a broader range of Japanese classics.

Here’s a first-bite look.

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The dining room of Jin Sushi. Sue Kidd

The dining room: Gone are the pool tables and sports bar decor of its predecessor, Hammer Time Bar & Grill. There’s seating for about 70 across a row of four-seat booths, four-top blonde wood tables spanning the broad dining room, a sushi bar with room for six and another dozen at a cocktail bar. The palette of the well-lit dining room is earthy with lots of natural wood tones.

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A rainbow roll from Jin Sushi. Sue Kidd

The sushi menu: Five pages listing 15 specialty fresh rolls with complicated sauces and oversized presentations ($10.50 to $13), 15 baked rolls with everything from eel to chicken ($11 to $18), 14 tempura-fried rolls ($9 to $14) and five specialty rolls featuring the talents of the sushi chefs ($9 to $13.50). A list of four vegetarian-friendly rolls ($4.50 to $7.50), 11 basic rolls ($6.50 to $8.50) and a menu of six maki for spice lovers ($7 to $8.50). Also, small ($22), medium ($33) and large ($60) sashimi plates and a list of 25 nigiri or sashimi ($5 to $13).

Japanese classics: Classic tonkotsu, shoyo or miso ramen ($9 to $11), udon ($8 to $12.50), donburi ($8 to $9), katsu ($14), teriyaki ($14 to $16), eight salads ($5 to $13.50) and one page of appetizers with some izakaya favorites such as chicken karaage ($8.50), tempura ($8 to $8.50), edamame ($5 to $6.50), plus salmon or yellowtail collar ($7 to $9).

Korean sushi: Check out the Korean sushi salad called hwe dup bap ($15).

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Hwe dup bap, a Korean sushi bowl, from Jin Sushi. Sue Kidd

Lunch specials: A dozen specials ($10 to $16) including teriyaki combos ($14), katsu ($10), tempura ($10) and more.

Adult beverages: 15 sakes ($12 to $38), flavored sojus ($13), Japanese beers Sapporo and Kirin and Korean beer Hite ($4.50 to $8), wine and full cocktail spirits list.

For kids: Kids meals, $8.

On a first visit: Dig into a broad selection of maki long rolls. From the specialty fresh roll menu, check out the Hawaiian roll with spicy tuna inside and raw tuna layered outside, with a tease of spicy from poke sauce ($12). The rainbow roll overlapped jiggly slices of raw tuna and red snapper with a California roll inside ($12).

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A spider roll from Jin Sushi. Sue Kidd

Spice lovers will be pleased with the blast of Sriracha in the spicy tuna ($8). A spider roll — with soft-shell fried crab — was a solid choice from the tempura roll menu ($12).

Skip it: From the baked menu, the house special roll looked nothing like the menu picture and was covered in a heavy layer of mayo sludge ($12).

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Ramen from Jin Sushi. Sue Kidd

Ramen: With such little ramen in the area, dig into a trio of ramen choices. The tonkotsu was a basic presentation with a milky bone broth, requisite chewy ramen noodles, broad slices of chashu (pork), seaweed, sprouts, bamboo shoots, but no egg ($11).

Note: On two separate visits, the sushi bar was out of toro (market priced tuna belly sushi) as well as a number of entrees and several sushi rolls, including some on the chef’s specialty sushi menu.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270, @tntdiner

Jin Sushi

Where: 8904 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood

Info: 253-844-4898

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.