Everything about Aloha Sushi is just right. Central Mount Vernon location? Check. Out the door tipsy and full for $30 (for a couple)? Check. Fresh and plentiful fish? Check. The generally quiet dining room is dressed simply with spare Asian decor, service is without fail friendly and prompt, and with a $1 sushi menu and most other items falling in the less-than-$10 range, the food is pleasantly affordable. Sushi is subject to individual taste, but we could nosh on buttery yellowtail nigiri until our stomachs rupture; ditto for the small elegant crispy rolls drizzled with pop-in-your-mouth beads of roe.
Baltimore has long needed a place like this: a Japanese restaurant that eschews sushi for cheap and delicious national dishes. Famous Yakitori One delivers with a variety of yakitori from traditional flavors like chicken gizzard to nouveau offerings like avocado wrapped in bacon. The ramen is flavorful and will make you forget all about Cup O' Noodles. We haven't tried the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake that we've only had in Japan), but we can't wait. The friendly and attentive service and the cool subterranean dining room make this a place where we could see becoming regulars.
No matter how many fancy new places with rotating sushi bars or specialty cocktails open in town, we gravitate to Matsuri when we get that raw-fish yen. But there's more to Matsuri than fresh, flavorful sashimi, sushi, and stunt rolls--there are also plenty of outstanding Japanese noodle dishes, sobas, soups, donburis, and even some teriyakis on the menu. And if you want a little taste of everything, order a bento box--sushi, daily appetizer special, teriyaki, and tempura.
Minato had a place in the little nub of wasabi we call a heart long before it moved into its stylish digs just south of Chase Street. Owner Alex Tran and his crack staff make diners feel like part of the family. The fish is fresh and sumptuous, the stunt rolls are inventive, masterfully combining flavors like the tsunami rolls with spicy tuna and avocado inside and mango outside, and the non-sushi entrees like pho, soba, udon, katsu, tempura, and don are hearty and thoroughly enjoyable.
Both Sushi Hana's original Towson Circle location and its newer venture behind the Lake Falls Village Center in Mount Washington have much to recommend them, though we've become partial to the Baltimore location for its more modern interior, ample parking, and not-in-Towson-ness. At either location you'll find some of the freshest tastiest fish in the area with myriad stunt rolls--the list covers the front and back of a page and it's not large type. And the sushi combination specials are reasonably priced and come with soup, salad, and a generous offering of fish.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201