Lowlight: no creativity, limited selection, hidden meat
Veggie Note: This is not a sushi bar for vegetarians, plain & simple
We stopped here for dinner while walking back to our car, on the way home from a Senators game.
I know what you're thinking, sushi and vegetarian don't exactly seem like a natural combination. On the contrary my vegetarian friends. I am a sushi addict! Many sushi restaurants (even Wegmans) offer a variety of vegetable only sushi and handrolls to enjoy. Unfortunately, Miyako Sushi on Second was NOT one of those places. (they do not have their own website that I could find, so the link here will actually take you to another local restaurant review site for your enjoyment). Let's start at the beginning though, shall we...
This downtown sushi bar is set in a long narrow location, so when you walk in all you see is the sushi bar, but hidden behind the kitchen, down a long hallway, there is also a dining room with tables. We sat in the dining room so that we could take time to look at the entire menu. I was so disappointed in the selection of vegetarian sushi. There is so much to be creative with here, and they really do not take advantage. I am very used to seeing hand rolls and individual pieces of sushi that include mango, sweet potato, asparagus, pickled vegetables, tempura vegetables, mushrooms, leafy greens and so much more. Not here.
We had the following:
- Nothing complimentary served here
- Vegetable Gyoza - slightly thicker than a wonton wrapper, gyoza (dumplings ) can be filled with just about anything. Lots of times it's shrimp or pork. This time we were excited to see a vegetable variety. They were very green when they were served, which caught both of us off guard. It is fortunate that we explore all new foods before just popping them in our mouths. We made a terrible mistake of assuming that labeling something as vegetable on the menu implied it was not meat, we were very wrong. There were little pieces of meat (pork maybe?) strewn throughout the dumplings. Too much really to pick out (if you tolerate that kind of thing). Needless to say, we didn't eat them. It was late at night and we were tired, so we did not comment on them to our waiter, just let them sit. Probably a mistake, but they were only $3.25.
- Vegetable Maki Combo - This was the only choice in the sushi entrees section that was vegetarian. There was no sushi platter, just this combination of three vegetable rolls (unspecified). When it arrived, I was not overwhelmed with joy. The three rolls looked almost identical and the plating was incredibly poor. Let's start with appearance. There are lots of neat sauces used in making sushi rolls; salty glazes, garlic sauces and my favorite spicy mayonnaise. None of that was included on my plate, not in side dishes or as a decorative swirl under my vegetable rolls. The rolls themselves were small and unimpressive. They included a very traditional looking vegetable roll with nothing but avocado and cucumber, more avocado and cucumber with mango added, and the last one - avocado and cucumber with sundried tomatoes (I think). No carrots, no traditional pickled vegetables (oshinko, daikon, etc...), no greens - just plain boring. I immediately asked for a side of spicy mayonnaise. For the first time in my life, I did not finish my maki. I was so bored of the repeating flavors that I gave up with three pieces left. There was nothing special about any of this dish.
- Al a Carte Inari and Tamago - my partner has some kind of aversion to seaweed, it causes an upset stomach, so we have spent some time seeking out ways for both of us to enjoy sushi bars so that I can feed my addiction. Two of our favorite seaweed free/minimal choices are inari and tamago. Inari is made with a fried tofu pancake (which opens like a pouch when cut in half - reminiscent of a pita). It is thin and delicate, and typically covered in a combination of soy sauce and sugar that makes the whole thing sweet and tasty. The pouch is opened, stuffed with rice and then rolled shut. If you are a very strict vegetarian/vegan, you may want to ask if they use Dashi (fish stock) in the pouch marinade as this is not unheard of. Tamago is an egg custard, chilled and sliced into a long strip and then laid on top of a ball of rice (traditional sushi style). It's tied on with a piece of nori (seaweed), but my partner works around that and leaves self- described "little seaweed carcasses" behind. Tonight, both types of sushi were made well, however the inari pancakes were a little dry, probably reaching the end of their life-span behind the sushi bar. Again, nothing fancy about the plating of this sushi.
- Miso Soup and Salad - my maki platter came with soup and salad. There are no choices here (not that uncommon) you get Miso soup and a basic house salad with ginger dressing. If you love salty foods, you would love miso soup. The broth is made from miso (soy bean) and it contains scallions, tofu pieces, and seaweed. Again, this is a place to clarify ingredients as occasionally bonito flakes (fish) are added to miso soup. I love miso soup too much and was too hungry to ask and risk not eating it. I am an ignorant vegetarian, I know it. The salad was typical for a cheap house salad (one tomato, a cucumber, and lettuce). The ginger dressing here, compared to many other Japanese restaurants, is very blah. It is watery but full of grated ginger. So the ginger sat on top of my salad in a very unappealing orange mass and when I reached the bottom, the lettuce was floating around in the watery component, not pretty.
Just a few other notes:
Miyako Sushi does have a liquor license so you can order a Japanese beer (or one of a poor selection of American varieties), a glass of wine or some Sake or Japanese vodka.
For those of you who are fish eaters - the group of five at the table behind us was raving about their choices, so you might do well here. I doubt the plating efforts are any better with or without fish, but I may be wrong. I should point out that one of this party's chairs broke and he fell right on the floor and this did not ruin their evening, so it must have been good for them.
Final thoughts: Short and sweet, this is not the place for vegetarian sushi. We will move on and probably never return here.