Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Place for Pros: Mio Sushi

We've been to Mio Sushi several times, but hadn't been back for a while until recently. That's not because of a bad experience, it's just because, well, sushi is expensive, and neither C nor I have a "one roll will do it" appetite. Recently, though, with a helping hand from a coupon at Mobba and a wave of starvation while sitting at Borders, we found our way over to Oakway's oldest new restaurant recently.

When we got there, we were surprised by two things: first, even though it was 7 p.m. by the time we arrived, the sushi conveyor belt was in full swing. Second, there were gigantic signs advertising that the restaurant now has two happy hours, during which those tasty little dishes are even less expensive. We managed to miss them both by an hour -- they run from 4ish to 6 and 8 to close -- but I'll keep that late night one in mind for feasting in the future.

So what floats by on those little plates? Bits and tastes that run from $1.75 to about $4. On the low end, you might pick up three California roll pieces or a little crock of salty edamame (we did); on the high end, there are chicken skewers and tempting two-piece Mount St. Helens rolls. In between there are a variety of cold bites to try.

Mio is the best place in town to take two kinds of folks: your friend who swears she will never, ever eat sushi OMG; and your friend who likes the idea of liking sushi more than she does actually eating the stuff.
Both friends will find ample options on the Mio menu to choose from. This is, after all, the place where you can get a Spicy Salmon Pizza (or its troubling cousin, the Sushi Pizza, with a mayonnaise sauce), a bowl of dressed up ramen noodles, some chicken teriyaki, and Tempura Ice Cream for dessert.

Yes, Mio isn't the place you should go to relive your summer in Japan or even your youth in the big city. It is, instead, a place to go for whimsical, Americanized sushi. Sure, you'll find regular fare on the sushi menu -- C devoured several tuna sashimi set-ups, and the sake seemed popular with the suburban couple near us -- but you'll also find experiments like the Heart Attack appetizer, pictured here, jalapenos stuffed with tuna and deep fried (too salty and spongy for me, but C loved them). Those same jalapenos appear on the Mount St. Helens roll, paired with spicy tuna on top, while crab and shrimp tempura huddles inside. Many of their premium rolls (which run around $9 each) feature sweet or spicy sauces. Very few feature anything more fishy than tuna or eel. My Caterpiller roll had satisfying slabs of avocado on top of a sweet, simple center of familiar flavors: crunch of cucumber, melt of crab, brief flick of eel. Easy eating.

The interior mirrors the menu's wouldn't-it-be-cool-to-be-hip feeling, with lime green plastic chairs nestled under trying-too-hard Formica, a crowded, narrow steel bar, and bouncy bamboo floors. There are a couple of small tables scattered throughout, but it's built for groups of 4. The message isn't exactly "bring the family," but the sports-playing TV over that same little bar seems to tell you it's OK to go to Mio under protest. It's OK to go here as a compromise. It's sushi done IKEA style.

That's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, you need a fancy, hand-carved dinner table made from generations-old redwoods; sometimes you just need a table that fits your mood and your new place. Mio is sushi for the fast-food, fast-life crowd whose wallets and tastes aspire to be wider.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday; 11 to 10 p.m. Friday - Saturday; 11 to 8 p.m. on Sunday
Location: Oakway Center: 132 Oakway Center

Mio Sushi on Urbanspoon


  1. It was so crowded and tacky in there I never wanted to go again, and the waitstaff was rude.

  2. That sounds like a horrible experience. We've had very good luck with waitstaff and crowds, but that may be because we eat later. They seem more together and less crowded than they did when they first opened.

  3. I think I need to go along for one of these late night forays.

  4. Agreed, wholeheartedly. I want to try the late night happy hour some time.