When I moved from body-conscious South Florida to let’s-fry-everything Tennessee, I figured I was kissing my sushi addiction goodbye. I thought my weekly dinners of rainbow rolls and edamame, as well as my summer tan, were officially history. Now, I realize I couldn’t have been more naive–though I was right about losing my tan. Nashville is actually home to some really great sushi. However, I believe I have found the best of the best at Samurai Sushi, a cozy little restaurant in Elliston Place.
One thing to keep in mind before visiting Samurai for the first time: its appearance is incredibly deceiving. When I arrived, I found a slightly sketchy restaurant that, especially within the atmosphere of Elliston, made me question my impending lunch of raw fish. But I proceeded inside, comforted by multiple Yelp reviews and unable to move past my craving for salmon and sriracha. Luckily, the interior is much more typical of a sushi restaurant. It’s not very big, but it doesn’t have to be–not that many people know about this hidden gem–so there were plenty of open tables for lunch. I have heard that dinnertime can get a little packed though, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait.
The best thing about Samurai is, in my opinion, the menu. There are so many options, from sashimi to the specials, and they are all incredibly unique. While I found myself unable to get behind the concept of fruit in my sushi, I have heard that their rolls mixing cream cheese and strawberries are top sellers. If you, like me, don’t enjoy mixing your sweet with savory, you will still find a menu full of delicious possibilities.
My boyfriend and I, both very hungry at the time, started off with edamame and seaweed salad, as well as a sampling of their sashimi. Their seaweed salad tasted especially fresh, but it was their sashimi that proved Samurai’s expertise with fresh fish. I have tried sashimi at many other restaurants after sampling it here, but it has never tasted as good as it did at Samurai. I personally recommend the yellowtail and the salmon, both good enough to eat without soy sauce.
We then moved on to actual sushi rolls, ordering three rolls we’d sampled at other restaurants to test Samurai’s quality. The Rainbow Roll was a bit of a letdown, as the fish eggs on top were only an annoying distraction from a perfectly tasty roll. But the seemingly simple Philadelphia Roll more than made up for it–the salmon in the roll was extremely fresh and I loved it paired with cream cheese. Slightly unhealthy, yes, but oh so worth it. My favorite of the meal was the Dynamite Roll, topped with a plentiful serving of warm crab salad–I literally had to keep myself from licking the plate.
Samurai might be a little expensive, but that is in common with most sushi restaurants. And despite the exterior, I was pleased with my entire experience inside its doors–even the slightly cheesy music playing in the background. I have no doubt that Samurai will soon become a weekly staple in my college girl diet, and I urge every sushi fan in Nashville to give it a shot.
2209 Elliston Place
Nashville, TN 37203