Ricenroll: Not your typical fast sushi joint

December 4, 2008

By Tim Pfarr

Some people find sushi disgusting. To be perfectly honest, I used to find sushi disgusting, too. But one day my dad talked me into giving it a try, and everything changed.

Now, sushi is one of my favorite foods. Every time I’m near a Sushi Land restaurant, I almost have a heart attack from excitement. But Ricenroll is enough to give my beloved Sushi Land a run for its money.According to its Web site, Ricenroll was created in late 2002 and its first shop opened in downtown Seattle. It has since expanded and can now be found in Bellevue Square, at multiple locations in Safeco Field and in the Issaquah Highlands.

Located next to Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant on Park Drive, Ricenroll functions like a fast food restaurant: You order at the counter, have a seat and wait for the server to bring you your food a moment later. While this restaurant style may be conventional, it isn’t as fun or exciting as Sushi Land’s epic sushi conveyor belt.

The menu is broad; in addition to sushi, visitors can enjoy soups, salads, side dishes and various other entrees (such as teriyaki chicken). There are also many vegetarian options, and everything on the menu is under $10.

One of the more interesting features of the menu is the “build your own ricenroll” option, where you can pick and choose your sushi roll ingredients.

They offer fountain drinks, hot and cold tea, bubble tea, sake and beer.

The restaurant has a colorful atmosphere, and those who choose to sit at the back wall can sit on a bench with colorful pillows. Each table contains soy sauce and a stack of tiny plastic cups for dipping; a utensil station offers forks in addition to chopsticks for people like me who can’t seem to use chopsticks without desecrating their meal.

I opted to try the California rolls, which contain imitation crab, avocado, cucumber and fish roe. (However, I was not aware the crab was actually imitation crab until later, when I closely examined the menu.) It was delicious, and I am unsure whether I would be able to distinguish Sushi Land’s cuisine from Ricenroll’s in a blind taste test.

Plates of sushi come with eight rolls, a fair amount of ginger and a dash of wasabi that looks innocent (but I assure you is not). Fortunately, it comes on the side, so you can customize your meal’s spiciness.

For my drink, I went with the always-reliable Barq’s Root Beer, because their sodas are Coke products.

For this sushi adventure, I also brought two friends with me.

One created her own sushi with avocado and cucumber, and the other ordered teriyaki chicken, which came with steamed rice. Each was satisfied with her meal.

Together, we also shared a generous bowl of edamame (boiled soy beans), quite a deal at $2.95. It was also very fun to eat. (The trick with edamame is to suck the beans out without destroying the pods they come in. It can be quite a challenge at first.)

Finally, for dessert, a friend convinced us to order strawberry mochi ice cream (small balls of rice cake casing stuffed with ice cream). My other friend wasn’t crazy about the chewy rice cake casing, but I found it to be rather delicious. Each mochi ice cream ball is about the size of an egg and costs $1. If you’ve never tried mochi, it’s definitely worth the price.

In the end, we were all quite satisfied with Ricenroll. If you’re looking for something a little new and different, it might be just what you’re looking for.

If you go

Ricenroll

1052 Park Dr.

369-8445

www.ricenroll.com

9:30 am – 8 p.m. (Monday – Saturday)

11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Sunday)

Soups, salads, sushi rolls, side dishes and combos.

Reach intern Tim Pfarr at 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com.

Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

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