Dining out: Simply Sushi

Published: Thursday, June 17 2010 3:00 p.m. MDT

To Americans, the all-you-can-eat concept doesn't seem to mesh with the idea of sushi.

On the one hand, you have that most American of dining traditions, snatching something quick and plentiful; on the other, you have sushi, which is good only if made with exact techniques, careful training and fine ingredients.

But my friend Emiko assures me that, in her native Japan, all-you-can-eat sushi is everywhere. Customers sit at counters where glossy, super-clean Lazy Susans spool out a selection of fresh sushi, often at prices that would make stateside sushi lovers green with envy.

The trend is catching on in the United States, too, and Utah recently has seen several all-you-can-eat places spring up. One of these is Simply Sushi, which has locations downtown and on Redwood Road.

The prices at Simply Sushi likely will strike first-timers as spendy — $15 for lunch — until you consider the fact that you'll pay the same price or more for a couple of nigiri and a long roll anywhere else.

But at Simply Sushi, you don't have to stop there. Provided you don't stay all day (a ban on "campers" is one of the five rules diners must follow), you can gorge on whatever you want.

And if you have an experience like ours, you'll want to gorge, as Simply Sushi is putting out some fresh, tasty creations.

Where to begin? I think I'll start with the rolls. After bellying up to the bar-height counter (tables are available, too) we tried several, including the rainbow hand roll and the crystal shrimp long roll.

The rainbow roll, snappy-fresh and full of flavor, featured narrow ribbons of tuna, salmon and snapper topped with bright orange flying fish eggs (tobiko) and rolled with rice into a narrow cone of nori.

It was just great. I usually add pickled ginger or wasabi to sushi for extra spice and interest, but the rainbow roll was succulently interesting on its own. I liked it much better than the crystal shrimp roll, which despite its tempura-coated clear shrimp center was neither crunchy nor flavorful.

But we really focused our eating efforts on the nigiri, one of my favorite kinds of sushi, with its simple presentation of sliced fish resting on sushi rice.

The octopus, with its ruffly, pinky-red edges and band of nori that wrapped it like a ribbon, was a showstopper that also tasted great, while the snapper was a piquant, oceany surprise with an almost creamy texture.

The tuna was richly red and clean in flavor, the salmon even richer. My usual favorite, yellowtail, was mellow and buttery, while the regular and spicy-style upside-down shrimp were a whimsical presentation of seafood salad inside a curvy-soft "bowl" of cooked, butterflied shrimp.

All-you-can-eat prices: kids' lunch $9.95, adult lunch $14.95, kids' dinner $13.95, adult dinner $19.95. Nigiri sushi $4, sashimi $9.75-$14.75, rolls $4.50-$9.50, soup and sides $2-$6.75, entrées $6.75-$12.75.

Simply Sushi

Rating: ★★★

Where: 180 W. 400 South (also at 7117 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan)

Hours: Daily from 11:30 a.m.

Phone: 801-746-4445

Wheelchair access: Easy, though eating at the sushi counter is difficult

Web: www.simplysushi.us

Also: takeout available

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. e-mail: skratz@desnews.com