We stripped the paper off our wooden chopsticks and salivated in anticipation. We just ordered a Sashimi Sushi Combo at one of our favorite places in Edmonds — Sushi Moto Japanese restaurant. It was my birthday.
“Have you written a review on this place?” my spouse asked, as Sushi Moto has been our mainstay for nigiri sushi, sashimi and rolled sushi — along with Udon noodle soup and other favorites — for over 20 years. We’ve logged many hours looking out the window at cold and drizzle, while our tummies were warmed by bountiful bowls of hot noodle soup, and countless cups of fragrant green tea. So frequent that I haven’t had to ask for a special favor — extra sections of lemon — in years. They bring it along with a bottle of low-sodium soy sauce.
I stopped and almost slapped my forehead. “I don’t believe I have, and now’s the perfect time.”
Sushi Moto is a family-run business in Edmonds, where Peter Oh has been practicing his art with seafood for over 30 years. Owners Peter and Sook Oh looked up to greet us from behind the glass front counter, where their hands flew as they prepared platters of fresh fish to fill the orders presented by wait staff.
Japanese friends from my high school days said the placement of items on the platter is a huge component of presentation. “It has to look as beautiful as it tastes.”
The most fun is to sit at the bar to watch as Chef Oh crafts fresh tuna, salmon, shrimp and other seafood into very edible art. On more than one occasion he’s made a special little salad and handed it to us over the counter. We felt pretty special.
Family birthdays have been celebrated. Last year we took my granddaughter for her 13th birthday. Her order — Obento with sashimi, tempura, broiled mackerel, a California roll and teriyaki — disappeared without a trace. How cool that a young girl from Heber- Overgaard, Arizona is into sushi?
Been eating sushi forever? Me too, but until I attended a class at PCC, I was blissfully unaware of the protocol. Our instructor shared some tips. Good manners count; but it’s more. The correct procedure will guarantee you’ll to enjoy your meal to the fullest. Here’s some sushi etiquette for the novice or uninformed:
- Do not put wasabi directly into your soy sauce. I am guilty here. My taste buds took a hit of heat when I discovered that under the pink shrimp atop the sticky rice was a generous dab of green! The sushi chef had already placed the proper amount of wasabi for the fish in the nigiri. My wasabi’d up sauce was over the top. Yow.
- Do dip your nigiri into soy sauce fish-side down — otherwise, the rice may fall apart.
Do eat nigiri in one bite. Our instructor said, “Never mind what your mother told you about stuffing your mouth too full — pop in the whole piece.” If you bite halfway, the balance, the perfect harmony of fish, rice and wasabi, will be lost.
- Don’t ask what’s fresh today. Some fish freeze well. If fish is coming from Japan, it goes through a broker, the FDA and is shipped to a supplier. It could be two to three days since it was caught, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fresh. Focus instead on what is in season and what local seafood is available.
- Do eat with fingers. “Another Mom rule to be broken.” Our instructor said that while chopsticks are okay, you’re not going to appreciate the temperature or the texture if you don’t use your hands.
Lastly — and this is my own advice –don’t assume that just because the chef isn’t Japanese, they don’t know sushi. No one would ask that in a French or Italian restaurant.
The food review…
We were seated and before we’d looked over the menus, hot tea arrived. Service is not usually quite that prompt, but we had arrived well past the lunchtime rush hour. Within moments of our sushi selections, issued to the waitress, bowls of miso soup, a small dish of edamame and more bowls containing a salad of shredded cabbage, carrot, and lettuce, dressed with sweet ginger vinaigrette, were presented.
Our platter of sashimi included nine pieces of just the fish, served up on shredded radish. The tuna and salmon were so tender and we wrangled over who got the last one. From the six pieces of sushi I claimed my favorite, the Toro. The Blue fin tuna belly was slightly grilled on one side and absolutely divine.
Sushi can be on rectangle shaped mounds of rice or combined with other ingredients, such as vegetables, which are all rolled up in a sheet or nori (seaweed) and sliced into pieces. The spicy tuna roll on our order had radish sprouts peeking out on one end. I grabbed that one too — hey, it was my birthday after all.
Here are some other terms to help decipher what’s on the table next time you order: Maki (which means roll), is when the seaweed is on the outside, uramaki, is the reverse — the seaweed is on the inside and rice is on the outside. Hand rolls — not so easy to share — are called temaki. It’s cone-shaped piece of sushi that’s rolled by hand. Think of an ice cream cone made of toasted Nori (seaweed) filled with a scoop of fresh crab or tuna and crispy veggies.
The vibe at Sushi Moto is the relaxed. While they are efficient and one can do “lunch” in a timely manner, make a point to visit of an evening when you can enjoy the calm and sip a second cup of tea or sake….
Sushi Moto is at 22746 Hwy. 99 in the Boohan Plaza #103, 425-673-5477.
Open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m.; Saturday noon to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds.