Dining Out: Mio Sushi shows what freshness can be worth

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Why: Known for being fresh and affordable, Mio Sushi has recently opened a restaurant in Salmon Creek. Though just a couple of blocks from Sushi Chiyo, another popular sushi dig, Mio Sushi doesn’t serve its selections on a rotating track. Instead, menu options are made fresh to order to ensure full flavor and optimum quality in every bite.

Atmosphere: Mio Sushi is family-friendly. Most seating is at tables and chairs, other than a low bar. A cool color palette and hard surfaces create a welcoming, yet dine-and-go experience.

What I tried: My dining companion and I had the Mt. Fuji Roll, Ichi Roll, Spring Chicken Roll and the Roll Combination, which includes eight pieces of California Roll, six of Tuna Roll and six of Cucumber Roll. For dessert we sampled the Key Lime Calypso, French Chocolate Cake and the Banana Tempura Combo.

All of our selections had an outstanding fresh presence and a tidy presentation.

The Mt. Fuji Roll, Ichi Roll and the California Roll were equally impressive and each possessed unique characteristics which made them stand out.

The Mt. Fuji roll is made with baked spicy salmon, green onion, sesame, cucumber, avocado and crab. The result is an overall rich flavor with a touch of smoke.

I noted that the sweet mustard sauce which tops the Ichi Roll gave the simple roll’s crab, cucumber and shrimp a bit of complexity, which elevated the food and made it memorable.

The California Roll was topped with tobiko, bringing a welcome addition and a tad more texture to this delicious classic.

Of the desserts, the Key Lime Calypso was my favorite. It consists of key lime mousse and vanilla genoise with white chocolate chips. Every bite was melt-away scrumptious.

The French Chocolate Cake was a rum-soaked chocolate genoise with smooth chocolate ganache, topped with baked hazelnuts and a pure chocolate “leaf.” This is certain to please any chocoholic.

The Banana Tempura Combo includes a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a quartered banana, both coated with tempura batter and deep fried. This dessert is served cold. I couldn’t help but compare it to deep-fried ice cream, a Mexican dessert. I wasn’t particularly fond of the tempura bananas because the oil had solidified and a filmy remnant accompanied every bite. I concluded that if the bananas were hot, it would likely be more appetizing.

Highlights beyond what I tried: A chef’s favorite is the Sushi Pizza made with baked crab, whitefish, salmon, special mayo sauce, sweet sauce, green onion, hot sauce and sesame seeds. Also, among the Mio Specialties is the Beef Yakiniku, which is like Korean Bulgogi, with sesame seasoning and steamed vegetables, served with a house salad.

Other observations: Service was a little slow on my visit, but the staff was friendly and knowledgeable about menu items.

The ingredients are as fresh as can be and the crab used is real crab instead of imitation. The difference between track system service and Mio Sushi’s made-to-order preparation is worth the few extra bucks.

Cost: Most menu items are under $10 other than the combinations, which are under $20. The Key Lime Calypso and the French Chocolate Cake are both $6.

Hours: Lunch is 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Dinner is 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Happy Hour is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Telephone: 360-597-3613.

Where: 13317 N.E. 12th Ave., Vancouver.

Health score: Mio Sushi has received a pre-opening inspection and is due for a routine inspection in the near future. For information, call Clark County Public Health at 360-397-8428.