Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Miso Hungry

    Join our fearless hunger quenchers on their latest quest to Mio Sushi on 17th Ave. in Sellwood.
     It was one sunny day whilst driving in my car with Jebby that we passed what used to be a Panda King in our Sellwood neighborhood. Jebby screamed a high pitched “Oh my god!” and as I jumped three feet out of my seat she proclaimed with excitement, “They’re opening a Mio Sushi!” I had only heard tales of Mio Sushi and their delicious sashimi and variety of rolls, but after hearing the delighted squeals from my passenger side, I was now very curious and also excited.
     A couple weeks passed and then one day, in Jebby’s living room, we were thinking about where to eat when she again squealed with child like joy at remembering that she saw a “Now Open” sign in the window of our new Mio Sushi. We both jumped up and down like two 2nd graders playing double dutch and hurriedly walked the four blocks down 17th Ave to our destination.
     It was busy to say the least. We were not the only gleeful Sellwoodians anxious to eat some raw fish and seaweed. As our waitress pointed us in the direction of an open table I pushed my way passed Jebby like a kid running to the ice cream truck so I could steal the comfy booth side seat and force my friend to endure the less comfortable chair.

Abbe's Meal: Teriyaki Tofu and Mio Roll
     I was so hungry by the time we arrived that I decided to go all out on my first Mio sushi experience. I ordered teriyaki tofu and veggies with rice for my entree, a miso soup, and a mio roll from the sushi menu. The mio roll contains raw tuna, crab, avocado, and cucumber.
     My miso soup was just as good as any miso I’d had at other Japanese venues, but nothing to get too excited about. My teriyaki tofu was glorious. The tofu was fried and had a delicious coating of golden brown goodness on the outside with a warm and soft center. The sauce was thick, gooey, and delectable with hints of orange and lemon in an exquisite teriyaki base. My vegetables were tender and piping hot and the rice was a fluffy little cloud for all the glory of my food to sit atop.
     Finally the Mio roll arrived on a little wooden caddy with wasabi and ginger surrounding it. I took a moment and marveled at it’s beauty. All the wonderful ingredients ready to burst forth from their tight seaweed and rice wrapping into my waiting jaws. The only way to describe what followed would be to say I had a moment of enlightenment. Jebby inquired “So, how is it?”
     All I could do was make an expression on my face similar to that of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt expression in a racy scene from Mysterious Skin. That about sums up what I was feeling when all the flavors hit my tongue. It was like heaven itself fell from the sky and landed on my taste buds. The perfect little happy ending.

Jebby’s meal: Sushi combination B
     Whenever I try a new sushi restaurant, I like to compare as many different types of fish as possible to see how the quality, freshness and preparation of each differ. The sushi combination I ordered came with one piece each of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, a mysterious unnamed “white fish,” shrimp, eel and octopus, as well as six pieces of tuna roll. The tuna, salmon and yellowtail all tasted as though they had just been plucked from the ocean, and the for the price, all the fish was very fresh, well-prepared and clean-tasting. The octopus was better than any I have tasted. I’m typically not an octopus fan, but I’d eat Mio’s again any day. The tuna roll was a lovely combination of flavors and textures. The odd-man-out was the white fish. It was grainy, chewy, and had an extremely unpleasant flavor. It was kind of like trying to nom a gym sock.
     Abbe and I are known to frequent a popular belt sushi chain that is quite cheap, but has fairly poor quality fish. I don’t eat there because I expect to eat great sushi, I eat there because it is cheap and accessible and I can munch on edamame, gyoza and udon for a few dollars. When I want really great sushi, I go to Murata. It’s expensive to eat there, but definitely worth it. Unfortunately, it is also frequently out of reach on my student’s budget. Happily, Mio sushi offers fresh, high-quality fish at accessible prices. Their handrolls contain real tuna and crab – no canned junk here. Good sushi does not have to be for special occasions. Mio is a really pleasant mid-range option between the “eat-at-your-own-risk” fish at sushi-go-rounds and the pomp and circumstance of high-end places like Murata where you may have to sign over your soul in blood for a sliver of abalone.

Mio Sushi Overall
     Mio Sushi, although not as convenient as a belt sushi establishment, far surpasses it's mobile sashimi competitors with fresher ingredients and an overall bigger selection of rolls, sashimi, and entrees. Their decor is simple and cute, outlined in a vibrant lime green paint job. The location we visited was open and comfortable and was eye catching without being loud or boring. They most likely kept the booths from their dismal predecessors at Panda King, but you almost don't notice the ugly, brown-tinged, overstuffed, vinyl seats that are sprinkled around the dining area because the green walls are so bright. 
     Our service at Mio Sushi was less than fantastic, but in their defense it was their opening day and we weren't expecting a mind blowing wait staff experience. But still, it was bad. My Mio roll was completely forgotten about until 30 minutes later when I asked of its whereabouts and the waitress gave me an "Oh shit" look and my elusive miso soup that came with my tofu teriyaki didn't actually come with it until I told the unaware waitress that the menu actually says that. 
But hey, everyone's first day anywhere is bound to be a nightmare, the only thing you can't control is when Abbe and Jebby show up to talk about how bad you sucked. Sorry guys, we know you'll get better at that, so don't worry, the food was good. 

For a full view of their menu visit

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