201 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
A lot of out of town friends and acquaintances have told me sushi in Vancouver is great. I have always wondered why. I mean, there has been a lot of complains regarding the quality here which means we see things in a completely different perspective. That is, either their sushi offerings in other places are so bad that average ones found here are extremely good; or most of us have become extremely picky and the sushi here is indeed good.
With that in mind, when I was in Baltimore, I had to visit a sushi restaurant just to check this. Fortunately, by Wednesday, the weather improved and could walk a bit farther from my hotel. In this case, about 10 or so blocks from the hotel is Baltimore’s Harborplace and here was a block full of restaurants including Edo Sushi.
When it comes to sushi, I am not sure if it is something that can be made into a chain. After all, one of the pros of a chain is standardization; however, while it is relatively easy to accomplish with beef, pork and vegetable, I have some doubts when it comes to seafood. No, I am not saying it is not possible to do, as some local eateries are proud of the fact they can procure seafood from far away sources. It is rather the difficulty which they can rotate them. In the end, I put those thoughts aside and give it a try without any bias.
To people critical of the ethnicity of the chef in a Japanese restaurant, here is the bad news. In this place, there was none. If you look closely in the picture above, they were Asian but I was able to overhear them talking in Cantonese. Now, to those who “complain” the staff is neither Japanese, more bad news: the rest of the staff was a mix of African-American, Latino and other (non-Japanese) Asian. While some of them were a bit too casual, the service provided was acceptable.
BTW, in the picture above, you might have noticed something that I will have to admit I was a bit wary during my visit. Although it was mid of the week, the restaurant was almost empty. Aside from myself, there were three other tables. The restaurant itself had 20+ tables so that did not really sound good, specially considering The Cheesecake Factory (see first picture above) was almost packed full.
After I was seated, I was given a warm towel to clean my hands, something you don’t always see in restaurants here. Oh, well… While waiting for the food, I started filling up some postcards and, once done, noticed the view of the harbour:
With my meal (more details below), I could either have a salad or miso soup. I chose the soup as I also ordered a salad.
This is the first time I was served miso soup with a spoon. That was really odd…
I was really curious about this bottle. At first, I thought it had sake. Actually, this was the soy sauce. Strange…
This is the salad I ordered, spinach with tofu and sesame sauce ($5). Now, the menu said it also had peanuts but those were MIA. At first, I was expecting this to be something akin to gomaae and, well, you could easily say gomaae it was not. The sesame “sauce” did not have the sesame punch and the texture was odd. BTW, I am sorry about the colour/hue of the picture above. I tried to adjust the hue/saturation and did a lot of tweaking to show the bed of spaghetti-like daikon radish but, alas, I got a bit too tired trying…
Here is my meal, deluxe sushi, which is made up of 8 nigiri pieces and one spicy tuna roll ($22). I will admit visually it is good. But, can you say the same after the close-ups?
Still nothing? OK, here is the deal: When you slice fish (or meat in general), you should start seeing really small bubbles starting to show up, basically moisture “leaking” out from the recently sliced section. The problem I couldn’t see any was making me a bit uncomfortable. How fresh was the fish being served? After my first bite, my worst fears were realized. Aside from the dubious fish, the rice was slightly dry and not acidic enough (probably due to the lack of vinegar). Out of all the pieces I had, the only decent morsels were from the roll.
With the bill, I was given these:
Actually, these were quite decent. However, the fact these are store bought does not really help.
In the end, out of the two options above, if this restaurant is representative of the average sushi restaurant outside of Japan/Canada and outside from major cities (San Francisco, New York, etc.), then it explains why visitors are amazed with the sushi in Vancouver. It is not necessarily because the sushi here is good (this is a YMMV situation), rather because a lot of restaurants out there is not close as the one in Vancouver. As for Edo Sushi in Baltimore, that’s a definite pass.
Side-note: I am not sure if this chain is related to the Edo Sushi restaurants found in Canada.