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Sushi that doesn't s*ck in or around Columbia, MD

ob2s Oct 10, 2006 02:30 PM

I am willing to drive to Matsuri in Baltimore or even to DC, but my host doesn't want to go far from his house in Columbia. Can you can help a brother (sushi brother, that is) out ?

  1. Lowbar Oct 10, 2006 02:39 PM

    Well, you have two of the best sushi places in the entire area right there in columbia:

    Sushi Sono (my personal favorite, by the lake in Columbia)
    Sushi King (Dobbin area)

    or, a little further in Ellicott City:

    Fuji (rt 40/bethany)


    22 Replies
    1. re: Lowbar
      ob2s Oct 10, 2006 03:17 PM

      thanks, how about Fuji vs. Sono ? Fuji is quite close.

      1. re: ob2s
        Lowbar Oct 10, 2006 03:39 PM

        Personally, I prefer Sushi Sono. If you are extremely close to Fuji, it shouldn't be more than a 15 minute trip to Sushi Sono. I would make the trip. My parents live less than a mile from Fuji and I still go to Sushi Sono when I'm up visiting them.

      2. re: Lowbar
        Warthog Oct 10, 2006 03:23 PM

        I can't speak to the sushi at Fuji, but I wish you good luck if you go with anything else. The food is wonderful, but I've yet to have a meal there where there was not at least one major mistake in the service - our dinners given to another table and vice versa, mystery substitutions ("We were out of A, so here's B - I hope you like it"), missing dishes, items coming out in the wrong order (appetizers after main course), and so on. And this has been consistent over many visits, not just one "off night". I have literally never had a meal there where the wait staff has gotten everything correct - and I'm not talking "style points", I mean the basics of getting the dishes ordered on the table simultaneously.

        And to answer the obvious question of why I kept going there if I had so many problems, the answer is that I have friends who loved the place, but in the end, even they have gotten tired of the mixups.

        I *want* to like the place, but there's no way I could recommend it based on my experience. That said, the communication/serving chain is much shorter at the sushi bar (you talk to the sushi chef, he gives you what you asked for), so Fuji *might* be good as long as you stick to the sushi bar. Not having personal experience on that part of their operation, though, I can't vouch for that being the case.

        1. re: Warthog
          jeanki Oct 11, 2006 12:42 AM

          Strange, I've been to Fuji many many times and this has never happened to me. I think that there is a possibility of things running out/mixups happening/service glitches because it is a relatively small kitchen/small staff, but they are so nice about it and their food prepared with such care that I don't think it is fair not to recommend them altogether.

          Personally I find the sushi there more authentic and fresher than at Sushi Sono/Sushi King (which are Chinese owned), but they don't have as wide a variety of unusual items, again because of the smaller scale of their operation. I think their non-sushi items are among some of the best versions I've had (udon and teriyaki). But it is better to go when it isn't busy yet, because the kitchen can really slow down at peak hours.

          Fuji is more like having your own Japanese mom and pop cook/prep a personal meal for you, and Sushi Sono is more of a typical efficient larger-scale corporate backed restaurant.

          1. re: jeanki
            ob2s Oct 11, 2006 02:17 AM

            thanks for the tips, my host has mandated Sushi King and by all accounts it shouldn't s*ck !

            1. re: ob2s
              Chownut Oct 11, 2006 03:25 AM

              This place is chinese owned though...not authentic japanese. These people also own the place across the street next to the mongolian buffet.

              1. re: ob2s
                JonParker Oct 11, 2006 11:17 AM

                i love Sushi King. You should have a good time. It is Chinese owned, but my Japanese co-worker has pronounced it excellent.

                1. re: JonParker
                  jeanki Oct 11, 2006 04:04 PM

                  Sushi King and Sushi Sono have the same owners. They are also quite friendly and do serve creative rolls and a nice wide variety of items. For some reason I always get subpar tuna and yellowtail there although everything else is fresh.

                  I think the authenticity matters only in terms of the general reverence for the freshness and cut of the fish that the Japanese have for sushi. Sometimes the Chinese and korean sushi purveyors unfortunately do tend to cut corners in terms of fish quality or preparation (but not all of them by any means, and certainly I've been to some mediocre Japanese owned places too). Anthony Bourdain made a joke about this in Kitchen Confidential, when he talked about the leftover bargain priced bits at the Fulton Fish Market that some Chinese/Korean purveyors would buy for sushi.

                  That being said, sushi, like all cuisines, is being appropriated beyond its original traditions and expanded to new directions. Like others have mentioned, some Chinese owned joints are much more fun and innovative with the fusion style rolls.

                  1. re: jeanki
                    ob2s Oct 11, 2006 07:52 PM

                    this is very true, I have been to a VERY well regarded (korean owned) sushi place in Portland, ORE where an Unagi nigiri was as long as from my thumb to pinky. I actually took a picture of it next to a quarter. Unfortunately, some people think bigger is better, especially Americans. Gigantic sushi is contrary to the entire concept of sushi and to japanese cuisine in general. I found a much less popular (also korean owned) place when I lived there, where the sushi was zen.

                    1. re: jeanki
                      Chownut Oct 12, 2006 07:40 PM

                      Consider yourself lucky if you ate at a chinese/korean joint with leftover fish from Fulton Fish Market. As an insider, a lot of these places nowadays get their sashimi fresh from Giant, Safeway, Weis, Shoppers Food, etc., especially the salmon.

                      1. re: Chownut
                        jeanki Oct 14, 2006 05:22 PM

                        That is totally gross.

                        I agree, bigger is NOT better in the world of sushi. Especially if it comes from a supermarket.

                        1. re: Chownut
                          Lowbar Oct 14, 2006 06:11 PM

                          Maybe so, but I am pretty confident that's not going to happen at Sushi Sono or Sushi King. But then again I don't typically order salmon.

                          1. re: Lowbar
                            Chownut Oct 15, 2006 04:12 AM

                            You can't put anything past restaurants...you are naive if you do. They are a business, and businesses stay in business by not wasting money.

                            1. re: Chownut
                              Lowbar Oct 16, 2006 12:26 PM

                              I don't disagree, but is it also naive to think that the place and the origins of its offerings should be judged on the quality of my many past visits, consistently excellent reviews, and overall reputation rather than the nationality of its owners? If so, then yeah, I'm as naive as they come.

                  2. re: jeanki
                    Lowbar Oct 11, 2006 02:02 PM

                    Definitely a very accurate post. Fuji is quite a bit closer in some ways to what you might find in Japan and has more of a mom n' pop feel, and is definitely a better all-around restaurant in my opinion for Japanese dining. Sushi Sono has more of the "creative" rolls and variety of unusual/unique offerings which are quite popular on this side of the Pacific and what many people base their favorite sushi places on. I like that stuff and that's one of the reasons I prefer Sushi Sono.

                    As far as the nationality of the people who own the restaurant is concerned, I wouldn't put too much stock in that, unless you are looking for the most authentic Japanese sushi experience possible. Perhaps it is less likely you will get "authentic" sushi at a non-Japanese owned place. When I go for sushi I am usually looking for inspired creations involving raw fish, I am not that concerned as to who is behind the counter if the fish is fresh and the offerings are interesting, nor am I that concerned with authenticity to be honest. Most of the sushi I had in japan was pretty boring, with the exception of a fish that was half-filleted alive at my table with the bloody chunks of meat served to me while the staked fish still twitched beside me. Frankly I prefer the less-authentic creative dishes I can get at my favorite places in the U.S., none of which are in this area unfortunately.

                    Any of the three places in the discussion here (Sushi King, Sushi Sono, Fuji) should provide very fresh fish, which is the most important thing...so enjoy.

                    1. re: jeanki
                      Warthog Oct 11, 2006 02:49 PM

                      I agree with the assessment of the quality of food - that has never been a problem in my experience. I think the Mom and Pop characterization is accurate, with all that comes with it, both good and bad.

                      For what it's worth, the "we're out" incident that finally got my friends who *love* Fuji to very reluctantly put it on their "infrequent visit" list was an evening when their dinners were served with the apology that the chef had run out of rice. Yes, you read that correctly. RICE. My friends are small business owners, and so they tend to dine later in the evening after they close their shop, which probably factored into it.

                      I agree that Fuji is probably the best quality Japanese food in the area, and perhaps the best suggestion I can make is to go early in the evening, given a choice.

                      There's also a sushi place in the Normandy Plaza on Route 40 (Korean owned, but they play it "straight Japanese"). I don't know how their sushi is, but perhaps somebody has a review.

                      1. re: Warthog
                        TKR_EC Apr 4, 2008 10:18 AM

                        That place in Normandy is Niko Japanese Restaurant. It's still pretty good, but the quality dropped a bit when a few of their sushi chefs moved up to Germantown.

                      2. re: jeanki
                        TKR_EC Apr 4, 2008 10:16 AM

                        I don't understand the rave reviews of fuji sushi. Their fish is most certainly not more fresh, and the preparation is horrible. Warm fish and mushy rice makes for poor sushi, and that's what I've gotten from Fuji the two times I've been there. Fuji is Korean owned, if you were under the impression that it is more authentic than the Chinese owned Sono/King/Oishi.

                        1. re: TKR_EC
                          little audrey Apr 4, 2008 11:15 AM

                          Sushi is supposed to be warm, made from just-cooked rice.

                          1. re: little audrey
                            hon Apr 4, 2008 11:24 AM

                            Pretty sure it's not supposed to be warm but rather room temperature, it has to be cooled down after cooking by fanning it.

                          2. re: TKR_EC
                            jeanki Apr 4, 2008 12:25 PM

                            Fuji is not Korean owned, the chef/owner is Japanese.

                      3. re: Lowbar
                        little audrey Oct 10, 2006 03:23 PM

                        I haven't been to Sono, but Fuji is very good and Japanese-owned.

                      4. s
                        stacylyn Oct 11, 2006 12:58 PM

                        I love Sushi King, too.....the husband loves Sono. Both have excellent quality sushi and interesting rolls.....

                        Best in the area.

                        1. t
                          tapas gal Oct 13, 2006 03:59 PM

                          Sushi Sono is fantastic. You will have to wait for a table, but the restaurant is along a lake so there is plenty to do. You have several choices of places to grab a drink until your table is ready. The hostess will take your phone number and call you when your table is ready.

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