Yume Sushi? Sure is

One-dollar sushi list anchors adventurous menu

The other day I noticed a recently opened sushi shack in Northmount Plaza at the intersection of 14th Street N.W. and Northmount Boulevard. Ever curious I poked my nose in the front door of this neat box of a place. It was buzzing tables mostly full with a string of takeout customers hustling to the back counter and out with their boxed-and-bagged meals. The muffled clippetty-clomp of heels was quaintly audible from the upstairs dance studio.

The next night I returned for a sit-down. Yume Sushi’s hook is its $1 nigiri sushi and sashimi. My natural assumption was such inexpensive sushi might not be good. My meal arrived with plenty of good strong wasabi and a heap of pinkish pickled ginger. The shake (salmon) was suitably thick fresh and firm with the juicy moistness of a fatty salmon. Whether or not our fellow patrons were fussed about the salmon’s omega-3 content I don’t know but several tables were packing it back like champs.

The rice was cooked as it should be: recently with nice sticking power. Good sushi rice is the kind you hardly notice. It’s a raw-fish delivery device. The thinly sliced tai (red snapper) was likewise fresh and enjoyable. Next there was no skimping on the masago (capelin roe). Consisting of rice wrapped in green slightly iridescent nori (seaweed paper) they were heaped with bright sweet ’n’ salty roe with a firm pop in each bead-sized red-orange fish egg. Finally the shitake mushroom sushi was a sweet standard done well. The chopped marinated mushrooms had an even undercurrent of saltiness.

Inside of a week I bring a guest for a well-earned (by the restaurant) return visit. The object is to try Yume’s other menu items. The mixed tempura ($9.90) is not as successful as the sushi. The flaky panko crust of good tempura is not in evidence. Its pasty batter makes it more like straight deep-fried shrimp and veggies.

Our second dish is a winner however. The sake-steamed clam sakamushi ($11.50) in a butter- and soy sauce-infused broth lands on our table hot and fragrant in a beautiful steamy bowl. The firm-fleshed clams pop easily from their shells. The broth is mild with a light touch of soy sauce.

Next up is beef salad ($6.90) a chopped lettuce salad with thin strips of raw beef. Its spicy soy dressing is punched up with wasabi and Tabasco. We’re warned of its spiciness and though it does have a delicious bite the heat doesn’t linger. The thin beef strips set up a great textural contrast with the crunchy greens. It’s a fantastic dish.

My guest and I also order a selection of maki sushi rolls. The deluxe salmon ($6.90) is loaded with ingredients: salmon smoked salmon avocado red caviar wasa sauce and green onion. Maybe too loaded but it’s still a decent roll. With all its combined tastes it hardly needed wasabi or ginger.

The ginger chicken roll ($5.50) made with rice tempura chicken and cucumber is topped with ginger chicken sauce. A bland experiment it doesn’t work alone or with condiments.

Turning back to fish we sample the unusual crunchy spicy tuna roll ($5.70). A rice roll centred with tuna spicy sauce cucumber and Corn Flakes it certainly is crunchy. This experiment works much better than the chicken the cereal working like an extra-crispy hit of tempura crust.

Finally the skillfully crafted wagon-wheel-sized mango roll ($10.50) is a complex mix of rice fresh water eel prawn tempura flying fish roe kaiware radish sprouts mango cream cheese and mayonnaise hugged with a thin mango slice. The thing is also topped with a drizzle of mango reduction. The many flavours (again maybe too many) work well enough but predominant are the cream cheese and the mango. This tangy cheesy item is a great closer.

While Yume Sushi’s menu has a cheap and tasty anchor in its $1 selections it also holds some unique surprises. Some are clear misses but the hits are really satisfying.