Menu: Moshi Sushi

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In Moshi Sushi, a painting hangs beside a thin bamboo plant and it depicts ... a thin bamboo plant. I'd call that an instance of overtly legible semiotics.

Because at Moshi, you can get pristinely fresh real raw fish preparations, but also many dishes - quite cooked and only marginally Japanese ones - that mimic the sushi form. In that, Moshi fills one of its numerous niches.

First and foremost, Moshi brings sushi and Japanese-edged cuisine into the heart of Bexley - a neighborhood surprisingly long-denied that elegantly spare kind of food. Moshi also provides a safe harbor for folks who like dropping anchor in a stylish sushi restaurant, but are provincially too squeamish to chew on raw fish.

Open for about two months in the newish Bexley Gateway (when was it universally decreed that every ambitious city addition be called a "Gateway"?), Moshi occupies a small, pleasant space.

Besides the plant and mirroring painting, it includes a prominent sushi bar, the shiny modern equivalent of a pressed-tin ceiling, and an attractive decoratively tiled wall with a cutaway mural of fish wiggling in an aquascape positioned opposite a glossy flat-screen TV "aquarium."

In here, clubby music plays, workers wear ninja-black outfits, water glasses are sexily curved, and side plates pop out with Warhol quotes and poses. In other words, Moshi wants to tell you it's hip, but it doesn't necessarily scream it.

Moshi's menus bounce around the expected sashimi, tempura, sukiyaki and even Korean territories, but it also goes to unusual, fusiony places with its many specialty fried sushi-ish dishes (like the "Italianese" roll made with deep-fried tomato and tuna topped with mozzarella cheese and "tomato mayo"). In doing so, Moshi's prices can tend toward the high side.

That's why the lunch menu, with its relative bargains, presents an affordable chance to get to know Moshi. In this regard, I'd call the Moshi Lunch Platter ($10) the restaurant's low-dough welcome wagon.

It comes with a micro-seaweed salad, and either a biggish house salad (mesclun with a fruity sesame-oil-based vinaigrette) or miso soup (nice and concentrated), plus: enticingly puffily crusted tempura (two pieces of shrimp and three veggies); the sweet-sided Korean meat dish bulgogi (brilliantly accessorized with stir-fry veggies); three pieces of sushi (I got good spicy tuna); two crackly fried chicken wings; a decent gyoza and a segmented orange plus a shiny, wrapped piece of chocolate.

The glittering Sashimi Lunch ($14) was not only outstanding, but it grouped together slabs of fish as fresh as I've had in Columbus. I got one sweet shrimp, plus two hunks each of tuna, creamy and fatty salmon, hamachi and red snapper.

From the list of ingredient-heavy house specialty rolls, I tried the O-H-I-O ($11) and the Jimbo ($15). The patriotically state-named one was fish-free and ate rather like an Italian fried rice ball. A fruity, sweet miso sauce coated deep-fried, walnut-panko jackets wrapped around rice, nori, avocado, cream cheese and wisps of asparagus and sweet potato.

The Jimbo was largely distinguished by succulent nuggets of delicious baked salmon and yellowtail heavily dressed in a dominating rich and spicy sauce. That loose mixture was draped over rolls holding sweet eel bits with a veggie (asparagus, daikon, jalapeno) crunch.

I liked the creamy inside, crispy outside, oversized-dice-cube shaped Crispy Tofu appetizer ($5) but loved the inspired Red Snapper Crisps ($7). The latter were pounded-thin sheets of fish sliced, battered and fried like potato chips.

Less successful were two dinner entrees that featured elements unconnected, either physically on the plate or melodiously in conception.

The silky Blackened Miso Cod ($19) looked sparsely pretty next to a few blueberries and bell pepper pieces and beside soft soybean-wrapped rolls with banana, avocado and cream cheese. But the constituents had nothing to do with each other or to tie them together.

Ditto for the unspicy teryiaki-like Moshi Jerk Chicken ($14) and its plate partners - a literal spoonful of very smooth pureed kabocha squash and a sliced half avocado. Everything tasted good on its own, but stayed that way.

Those minor misfires aside, the fun and even ambitious Moshi Sushi is a great addition to the city in general and Bexley in particular.

Moshi Sushi

2152 E. Main St., Bexley