Looking for new spots to try? During Dining Month, Lori Fredrich is dishing out must-tries in 20 different dining categories, from brunch to BBQ and everything in between. Here's what she's recommended so far!
What makes great sushi? It's definitely about the freshness and quality of the fish; but it's also about the way it's cut. It's about the rice, the grains of which should be smooth and shiny, with grains that are distinct. It's also about balance; the fish should be the star of the show, with the ingredients (however creative) complementing its delicate flavor. As a result, great sushi tends to be pricier, and for good reason.
These five spots are worth your while.
For many years, Bay View was a sushi desert. But that’s no longer true thanks to Hungry Sumo, which brought a wealth of new dishes, plus a great sushi program, to the table.
Guests can choose from more classic maki, nigiri or sashimi (yes, it’s fresh!) or dive into modern rolls like the Atlantic Bluefin featuring black rice with spicy shrimp, mango and avocado topped with bluefin tuna, spicy ponzu and microgreens. Relatedly, don't sleep on offerings like their ponzu and jalapeno featuring hamachi or white tuna briefly marinated in delicious yuzu sauce. It's both beautiful and addictive.
Kawa Ramen & Sushi
** Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.
3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.
** Temporary location while their Murray Street restaurant is being remodeled after fire damage
I have a great deal of respect for sushi restaurants that aren’t above purchasing great fish in small quantities, even if it means running out of it by the end of the day. It’s a philosophy employed by Kawa Ramen & Sushi, a restaurant that upped the ante for local sushi fans when they opened and has continued to excel in their craft. Their dishes are beautiful and balanced, and their fish is fresh.
Even at their temporary location at Crossroads Collective, their slightly pared-down menu showcases the quality for which they've become known.
Kin by RiceNRoll
7484 W. State St., (414) 524-9056
The Thai fare at Kin is stellar, but their fresh, beautifully presented sushi is equally worthy of attention. Choose from more traditional nigiri and maki, plus beautifully presented modern creations like the Tosa Fab roll featuring a combination of fresh yellowtail, cilantro and avocado wrapped in black rice and topped with super white tuna. Starters like Flaming Tuna Crispy Rice with spicy tuna, crispy sushi rice, curry mayo, soy glaze, spicy mayo and jalapeno are also beautiful and delicious, especially if you enjoy a bit of heat.
Ruyi at Potawatomi
1721 W Canal St., (414) 847-7335
I was excited to get a first taste of Ruyi sushi bar when it reopened last March since they'd previously been a top pick of mine for not only the freshness, quality and variety of their fish, but the expertise with which they approached the preparation of their sushi rice, sauces and accompaniments.
Despite a limited inaugural menu, they've definitely impressed me so far with their sashimi offerings (including selections like Scottish salmon and black cod), along with select signature rolls like the Firekeeper with spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, scallion, cucumber, avocado and spicy mayo.
Moving forward, I'm excited to watch for their strides in increasing the sustainability of their sushi offerings through the Smart Catch program provided through the James Beard Foundation.
Bonus pick: Sushi Yuki
2349 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (715) 803-2697 (ext. 2)
Since I tend to give a restaurant at least a couple of months to develop their stride before making a full visit, Sushi Yuki is a must-try for me as well. But I have some confidence it will prove to be a favorite based on prior experience at the owners' Sakura Japan in Waukesha.
Nonetheless I'm eager to dive into their menu, which promises fresh, well-sourced fish, housemade sauces and an approach to sushi that's backed by the expertise of a Tokyo Sushi Academy graduate Jin San Koh.
Among the items I'm eager to try are their sashimi and nigiri (which showcase the quality of the fish); their unique Green Sky Roll, featuring yellow tail, salmon, white tuna and tilapia topped with lemon, serrano pepper slices and a unique sauce made with ponzu, basil, garlic and olive oil; and Koh's Omakase roll, an ever-changing creation that showcases the chef’s choice of fish and accompaniments.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.