Chiyo Sushi's rolls just rock

The Mount Washington restaurant is homey, and its sushi is exceptional

May 21, 2010|By Rob Kasper, The Baltimore Sun

The Geisha Roll ($11.95) at Chiyo Sushi in Mount Washington got me. I was taken by its avocado bottom, enthralled by its chopped salmon salad middle, swept away by its lotus root top.

The Dragon Roll ($9.95) also turned my head. This sleek combination of crab and cucumber on the inside and eel and tobiko (fish roe) on the outside was fresh and appealing.

The Orioles Roll ($11.95), a mixture of white tuna, tempura flakes and sweet hot sauce wrapped with salmon, avocado and tobiko, had its moments in part because the Orioles had won the day I visited the restaurant. I was later told by one of the restaurant owners that an Oriole icon, whose name rhymes with Hal, was a fan of this roll. This could mean if you want to be a baseball hero, eat white tuna, salmon and fish roe.

Only the Nut Chicken Roll ($9.95) disappointed. The combination of tempura chicken and apple coated with a creamy walnut sauce seemed liked a good idea when I saw it on the menu. But when it showed up at the table in the company of these other vibrant fresh sushi dishes, creamy chicken seemed bland. My bad.

Chiyo Sushi is a cozy restaurant tucked into a leg of Sulgrave Avenue that is sandwiched between Kelly Avenue and a longer stretch of Sulgrave. There is a small parking lot adjoining the restaurant. The first floor has a handful of tables nestled near the sushi bar and seating for about 50 upstairs.

On a recent weeknight, the restaurant was filled with families: a mom and her pre-teen daughter, a Japanese couple and their chopstick-wielding lads, and what looked like a grandmother and mom with their darling toddler. The toddler was dressed up for a night out with a bow in her hair.

Service was especially welcoming. When a newly arrived customer was not sure she had parked her car in the right spot in the lot, a member of the restaurant staff took her keys and moved the car for her.

When my wife and I dipped our appetizers — an exceptional vegetable tempura ($5.95) and soft crab tempura ($8.95) — in the wrong sauces, our waitresses gently corrected us The correction was done with grace, and we were thrilled with the results. The crab blossomed when dipped in a vinegar and scallion sauce. The vegetables were much happier in a faintly sweet soy sauce

While the geisha roll was my overall favorite dish, I have to say that the vegetable tempura was amazing.

Slivers of sweet potato, pepper, even broccoli were flash-cooked in a light batter. Never had a sliver of sweet potato so moved me .

The atmosphere at Chiyo Sushi is homey, not fancy. It is a little hard to find, but once you do, the service is gracious, and the sushi is exceptional.

Chiyo Sushi

Where: 1619 Sulgrave Ave.

Call: 410-466-1000

Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 3 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Credit Cards: MC, Visa,. American Express, Discover

Entrees: $4-$46

Appetizers: $4-$10

Food: ✭✭✭

Service: ✭✭✭

Atmosphere: ✭✭

[Key: ✭✭✭✭: Outstanding; ✭✭✭: Good; ✭✭: Fair or Uneven; ✭: Poor]

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