If it wasn't for great Asian restaurants would strip malls even exist? I'm thinking not. Excepting of course those people who get that nicotine jones and have to hit Tobacco Town or Butt World or whatever they call places that are usually right next door to the great Asian restaurants. Case in point is Toshi Sushi here in Portland, or more accurately out in the far reaches of the suburb of Beaverton. In a shabby strip mall...oh wait, that's a redundancy isn't it?...just off 185th Avenue (pretty much in any town I'm out of my element when the streets hit triple digits) sits this funky place that looks like the essential sushi shack. You know, the kind of place with the clock where instead of numbers there's plastic nigiri, posters for Kirin beer on the walls, and tables jammed together so tightly like they're serving a band of Lilliputians. Plus the requisite counter where the true believers like to sit.
So that's where w and I bellied up to the other day when I went to suburbia to take her to lunch. With warnings to me to behave myself since she goes there regularly (why she would say that I have no idea!), I was ready to indulge. We started with a cup of pipng hot green tea and maybe the best miso soup I've had in town. You know that weak, insipid swill you get in way too many places. This wouldn't be that. Rich, textured. Nice stuff. Then we had a couple of nicely done rolls as a prelude to some of the best nigiri I've had. Then came what can only be described as deliciously cute. A little pile of deep fried baby octopus (top left), their tender round heads and crispy tentacles waving an invitation to devour them in one bite. Perfectly fried, dipped in a little soy, I could eat an octopi of them (I looked that up. That's what a group of octopus are called). Walking in to this place, with its shambly Japanese hole-in-the-wall charm, you wouldn't expect some of the freshest, cleanest fish we've ever had, but that's exactly what Toshi-san puts out in his perfectly prepared nigiri. The salmon and yellowfin were outstanding. Then came the toro, the fatty tune belly, that almost melted in our mouths. So-o-o-o good. Like the other nigiri, it almost had no taste it was so clean. I love that sensation, where it's almost like you're getting the essence of the fish. Amazing! Best of all this pleasure comes at a cheap price. If you need to get yur suburban groove on, this is the place!