Orchid Sushi, thank you…

… For filling my belly with delicious food and for being located less than an 8 second run away from my apartment lobby (yes, we ran – not walked – there in minus 25 degree weather last week). I am thrilled beyond belief to report that a sushi place has opened up within my very neighbourhood (in fact, I can see it right now from my frost-covered bedroom window). This is arguably a bit of a double-edged sword; while surely enhancing my quality of life, the sheer convenience of Orchid Sushi may serve to be detrimental to my wallet. Actually, who am I kidding? As a sushi lover of the truest kind … I say, bring it on!!

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My friend Jackie and I enjoyed two Futomaki rolls: the Rainbow (5 large pieces on left), the Spicy Hotate roll (5 reasonably sized pieces in the centre) and one Hosomaki roll – the Spicy Hamachi (8 smaller pieces on right). Each morsel was as fresh as you could want; none of this hard rice or chewy, difficult to bite through seaweed. These texture components are especially important to me not only for the obvious reasons of enjoyment, but more specifically because I am reintroducing large rolls into my life (after 6 months of struggling with Temporo-Mandibular-Joint issues). My jaw problem rendered me unable to indulge in the very staple foods that make my life complete (including anything crunchy, too large or awkward to bite into two, too chewy, etc.). The range of motion and pain has been improving over time but even though I’d reintroduced wings, nuts, raw vegetables and jerky fairly early on, I continued to have trouble with larger sushi rolls and food items like subs and burgers. I mean, let’s be honest, you can cut up an apple and nibble demurely on wings (or can you?) but you can’t exactly bite most sushi in half (without looking like a mess afterwards) or eat a sub with a fork and knife (without looking like a neurotic psycho). All these first-world issues aside – despite my troubles – I somehow managed to forget about my jaw issues at the most in-opportune times (i.e. when it was too late). For example, the time I excitedly shoved that succulent appetizer into my mouth with passionate zeal at a staff Christmas party, only to realize moments later that I would have to now spit it out partially and chew it. Yes, that happened … Daniela at her finest – professional and attractive.

Wow, I really do get sidetracked don’t I? It actually amazes me that I can function in daily life, not to mention write 30-something page med-legal reports …

So back to the task at hand. Here is a rundown of my review overall:

SERVICE & AMBIENCE:

The location of the place is a bit odd and there is very little in the way of people-watching (which is why we like the Market) … However, this is to be expected given the neighbourhood (i.e. government district = pretty much dead after 4pm on weekdays and definitely sparse on the weekends). Also, Orchid Sushi is unfortunately not yet licensed (I know, boooo … But since I can drink wine at home then walk over, I can’t say I really care!) The service was great and the tables were nicely set with white tables cloths, though the paper pamphlet menus were a little out of place. That being said, they are pretty new still, so I imagine this will change. The decor is otherwise nice and simple, clean and fresh. The gentleman who sat us (also the owner, I later found out) brought us steamed, salted edamame beans on the house to start us off, which was a nice touch. He checked in and tended to our needs without being over-bearing. He was very friendly and you could tell he cared about the food and the customer.

SELECTION:

The menu is huge!! There are more rolls than one could reasonably dream of. This can sometimes make one wonder about the quality and freshness of the items, given the plethora of ingredients required … But in this case, you can be rest assured there is no question about the freshness. The menu includes combos and specials and an array of futomaki, hosomaki, maki, specialty rolls, sashimi, tartare dishes, appetizers and salads. They also offer dessert (which Jackie convinced me to order with her … and holy mother of fried foods was it ridiculously fantastic! Coming from a girl who’s palate veers steadily towards savoury rather than sweet foods, the aforementioned enthusiasm says a lot).

FOOD ITEM REVIEW:

1. Vegetarian miso soup – This was a delicious take on an otherwise predictable Japanese starter (which I love and inevitably order). There were lots of fresh mushrooms (I think enoki and shiritake) as well as the usual suspects (tofu and seaweed).
2. Rainbow Roll – This was our favourite roll. It was comprised of spicy salmon sashimi, cucumber, tempura, lettuce, avocado, salmon and red tuna.
3. Hotame Roll – This roll was also really good and the texture was perfect. It was bursting with scallops, mango, fried sweet potato, avocado, spicy sauce and spicy mayo.
4. Hamachi Roll – This one is always a staple for me; yellowtail tuna, spicy sauce and spicy mayo. Really fresh and lots of tuna.
5. Sashimi – I have to say that the salmon sashimi was really good but perhaps not the best I’ve ever had. Sushi Umi and Sushi 88 have slightly more tender and buttery salmon (I think). And the tuna … well tuna is not really great anywhere in Ottawa compared to BC so I’m biased.
6. Deep fried ice-cream – We went with vanilla, though green tea would have been delicious, I’m sure. We thought a simpler taste would allow the flavour of the batter and sauce to shine through. The ice-cream was delicious and still cold inside, and the dough was heavenly! Imagine a churro and a mini donut had a baby and this baby turned into batter that encased a ball of creamy vanilla … And then (it’s not over yet) imagine this ball was fried to perfection and rolled in some sort of sugar and crushed flake concoction. And then (yes, there’s more) drizzled with maple syrup and served alongside freshly cut fruit. Seriously divine. It was tender, not mushy; the dough was chewy yet thin enough not to be overpowering or glue-like. This dessert was the perfect combination of soft and crunchy, creamy and sweet …. Nom nom nom.

Summary: I’d definitely recommend this place and would say the quality is on par with that of my previously favourite sushi establishment, Sushi 88 on Somerset and Bronson. Although the latter offers brown rice varieties and has a license, I think Orchid Sushi is well on its way to success! And to top it all off, the owner’s girlfriend works at Her Esthetician across the street (in the Minto building) and is lovely and very talented (she does nails, eyelash extensions, etc.). I am not getting paid to say any of this, by the way … But the small-world connection and the quality of both their services got me thinking that a joint venture (e.g Stagette or birthday where girls get pedis and bring their own wine and have sushi delivered) would be a very lucrative and super fun idea. Hmmm ….

So, go to Orchid Sushi and eat!! I know I’ll be back. Also, if you are looking for a good mani or pedi (express or regular) or other esthetic services, check out Her Esthetician – they are totally reasonable, clean, and have massage chairs. You could do sushi before or after. Kind of a perfect afternoon.

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