Edo Sushi adds a view to its Japanese treats

Dining For $25 Or Less

November 24, 2005|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The small Edo Sushi chain of restaurants, which started in Timonium in 1997, has ventured out of the suburbs with its latest incarnation, located in the Inner Harbor.

The fourth Edo restaurant, on the second floor of Harborplace, opened in August, next to the considerably less elegant Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Like the other Edo restaurants, this one doesn't make much of an impression from the outside. But by now, the owners have proven themselves experts at taking tiny strip-mall stores and creating serene interiors that somehow seem spacious. Surely working their magic at Harborplace was easy compared with that.

The interior is simple and elegant, with tile floors, black accents and lots of wood. Tables are lined along the windows to take advantage of the stunning views of the Inner Harbor, and a sleek bar dominates the center of the rectangular space.

Like the other Edo restaurants - Edo Sushi in Timonium and Edo Sushi II and Edo Mae in Owings Mills - the new Edo offers pristine and creative sushi, sashimi, maki and nigiri, plus such hot dishes as teriyakis and tempuras, with service so attentive that the waiters take your order almost as soon as you lift your eyes from the menu.

The Harborplace restaurant has expanded the menu slightly with the addition of yakitori, small skewers of grilled meats or vegetables ($2-$4). With about three bites per skewer, these make nice appetizers. Choices range from meatballs and mushrooms to quail eggs and asparagus. We tried the beef, chicken and mushroom, and found that they all had a wonderful charred flavor while remaining moist on the inside.

Another lovely appetizer is the oshinko ($3.50), a tiny sampling of pickled vegetables so carefully arranged on the plate that the effect is almost sculptural.

And while every Japanese restaurant serves miso soup, Edo's, as seems to be its philosophy, ups the ante with a seafood miso ($5.95) of whole shrimp and large pieces of white fish.

A long section of the menu is devoted to colorful and imaginative maki rolls. This decadent lobster tempura roll ($18.95) features large chunks of sweet meat, deep-fried and surrounded by fish roe, lettuce and crunchy slivers of cucumber. Yet, wonderful as this combination was, it could have been even better. The tempura had lost some texture, and the lettuce leaves detracted from the purity of the flavors. Also, the rolls were difficult to eat. They required two bites and fell apart after the first one. Still, I'd order this again in a heartbeat.

The chef sampler ($16.95), another special maki, was less rich but just as delicious, with its tiny morsels of raw tuna, yellowtail and salmon wrapped in a wagon wheel of cucumber strips.

Edo restaurants are known for their udon noodles - big, nourishing bowls of broth loaded with fat, slippery noodles, meats and vegetables. But on this night, a bowl of vegetable udon soup ($12.95), though it contained plenty of greens, large chunks of tofu and even a poached egg in the middle, was dominated by an unpleasantly oniony broth.

In general, though, the Edo chain has set the standard for Japanese food in the region by offering terrific service, nice atmospheres and food that is delicious, creative and beautiful. An Inner Harbor setting is icing on the cake.

And speaking of dessert, the Harborplace restaurant offers Japanese and American choices, including a rather impressive key lime cheesecake ($5.95) and an attractive glass filled with tempura-fried slices of banana ($4.50), delicious but dangerous - the fruit inside the crisp batter is steaming hot when it arrives.

Edo Sushi

Where:

201 E. Pratt St., Harborplace

Call:

410-843-9804

Hours:

Lunch and dinner daily

Credit cards:

all major

Prices:

Appetizers $2.95-$13.95, entrees $9.95-$24.95

Food: *** (3 stars)

Service: *** 1/2 (3 1/2 stars)

Atmosphere: *** (3 stars)

[Outstanding:**** Good:*** Fair or uneven:** Poor:*

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