Sunday, October 21, 2012


The other day I saw this article in the Saratogian about the new sushi restaurant in town, it looked like it definitely had some potential and I couldn't wait to check it out. I also had a friend who had never really had sushi before and I was really excited to introduce her to one of my favorite meals. So that's how we ended up at Izumi. (I just found out that Izumi is Japanese for fountain or spring, how fitting!)

The three owners of Izumi took over the place where Pacific Grill used to be and made it their own. Atmosphere-wise it's pretty much the same, same circle booths and deep reds and black everywhere. The one big difference that stood out was the fancy sushi bar they added. I always think it's a nice touch, you get to see the fish you're eating and see it being prepared, a skill that I've never been able to quite master. When we walked in I instantly noticed that it didn't look like much had changed, so I was curious what the food was going to be like.

After sitting down we looked at our menus and tried to find a drink list. Our waiter saw us looking confused and came over and said "listen guys, I'd like to offer you something to drink but we don't have our liquor license...want tea or water?". I was pretty disappointed, I was looking forward to a fancy drink, but I was assured by the owner after our meal that they were just a week away from acquiring their license. So next time I go I'll have to report back on how their drinks are looking.

For appetizers a couple people got the house salad, a spicy vegetable miso soup, and I wanted to check out their vegetable tempura.

Already their presentation looks pretty great, and I love that the house salad was so big when other Asian restaurants normally give you two bites of a salad. The tempura was good but didn't knock my socks off, I thought it was a little soggy by the time it got to me. Next time I definitely want to try their shrimp tempura and some of their other appetizers like the gyoza or shumai.

Alright on to the sushi. Now there were seven of us, and I didn't get to try everything, but I'll show you some pictures and tell you a bit about my favorites, how's that sound?

I got two of my personal favorites, a Spider roll that comes with softshell crab and spicy mayo, and a Spicy Tuna roll.

Both of these rolls were perfect, there was a minimal amount of rice so you could really appreciate the quality of the fish. The only thing I was bummed about was that I had asked for a "crunchy" roll (tempura flakes), but it seemed they forgot or hadn't heard me. It was still pretty tasty though.

So remember I told you that some of my friends were trying sushi for the first time? They said I could order for them and so I ordered a Spicy Tuna to stay on the safe side, and then a Dynamite roll for something exciting...

The Dynamite roll was a combination of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and crabmeat. Add in a bit of masago, wrap it up with soy paper, and you've got one of the best sushi rolls I've ever had. It was absolutely amazing, you got a bit of every flavor in each bite and it was so fresh...incredible. I found out later that Izumi gets shipments of fish from NYC at least three times a week to ensure that the quality and freshness of the fish is at its best. Oh and my friend liked the Dynamite roll as well, so if you're trying sushi for the first time jump in with two feet and try this roll, I bet you'll like it!

Two other friends who had never really experienced sushi got the Kill Bill roll and the Tropical roll.

I didn't get around to trying these two (there's only so much sushi I can eat) but they looked pretty tasty and my friends who got them were more than satisfied. I'm so proud of my friends, I feel like a lot of people who try sushi for the first time play it safe with something cooked and simple, but they certainly brought the "go big or go home" attitude with them. Way to go guys.

Another friend ended up going with a Dinosaur roll, which she admits she got purely for the name, but she ended up being very happy with it.

This roll had spicy salmon tempura and crab meat on top. I liked the sweet sauce that it came with, and this would also be a good choice for someone who is not crazy about the idea of eating raw fish. Speaking of which, I liked that on the menu they put little fish pictures next to the rolls that have raw fish, always good to know.

And if you're really not into sushi at all, there are other options as well - one of my friends ended up getting an order of Sesame Chicken that looked pretty delicious and came with rice and a small house salad as well.

There are a couple Thai and Chinese options on the menu, yet it's not as overwhelming of a menu as some of the other fusion restaurants are when there are pages and pages of each kind of cuisine.

My date ended up ordering a Ninja roll and an order of the Izumi fried rice.

The fried rice came with chicken, shrimp AND beef. He said, and I quote, that it was "the best fried rice" he'd ever had! Strong words there. And it was pretty amazing fried rice, it had an almost smoky taste to it and didn't leave you feeling greasy like some fried rice's tend to do.

All in all, the food at Izumi was amazing. The look of the place may not have changed with new ownership, but the quality of the food has certainly gone up. And when we were done with our meal one of the owners came up to make sure that we were leaving as happy and satisfied customers. I always love it when the owners take the time to meet their guests. I can't wait to go back when they get their liquor license and I definitely want to try more of their exciting sushi combinations. Maybe I'll even go wild and get a boat. 

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