A REAL Sushi Place!

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About 90 pesos worth of great fresh food!

Yes, really. If you read this blog, you know of my ten-year quest to find authentic sushi in our beloved land of fresh seafood. Sushiko does, to my chagrin, serve a few rolls with cream cheese (“gotta give clients what they want”). But Ko, the owner from Morioka who worked for years in the US and speaks English and Spanish in addition to his native Japanese, also serves real nigiri (traditional palm-made sushi, served in pairs) made with good quality rice, wasabi (it’s powdered, but just try to get it on sushi most places here in town), and served with shohga (pickled ginger root). 

Ko has been a sushi chef in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Switzerland before coming here to Mazatlán. OMG, I have died and gone to heaven! My prayers have been answered!

Sushiko has been open just one week, though Ko has been living in Mazatlán since September. Ko’s wife, Martina, is from Chihuahua. They have a 22 year old son who lives in Japan, and she has two older daughters and grandchildren also living here. Welcome! 

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The nigiri offerings are few though outstanding, as you can see by the whiteboard, below. But, as time goes by, I’m sure Sushiko will serve a greater variety of fresh seafood. And it’s incredibly affordable, as you can see! Ko’s offerings vary by the day according to what’s been caught. I can’t wait till scallop season! Ko has already gotten Toyo Foods to stock a few things I’ve long been wanting, so all is, indeed, good. I may even get shime-saba, eventually!

In addition to nigiri and a few Mazatlecan-type rolls, Sushiko serves a few traditional Japanese rolls: tekka maki with tuna, umekyu with plum and cucumber, and nattoh maki with fermented soy bean. There is also cooked fare, including tempura and kushiage (Japanese kabobs).

And more good news: Ko actually has purchased and installed a professional refrigeration unit for the fish, so we can see what’s fresh and how fresh it is, and so that it can stay fresh! Not exactly common here in Mazatlán, and a wonderful sight! You other sushi shops want one? Call Alberto, the technician at Maz Refrigeration, 6691-11-5880.

Sushiko is located on Paseo Claussen in Playa Norte, in front of the fishermen, just south of Pescadería del Mar and Chikkowi—three of my favorite places all in one short strip! Sushiko is a small place with only four or so tables, but if my dream comes true, it’ll soon be popular and have much better digs.

It’s closed on Mondays, but open the other six days per week from 1-11pm. Telephone is 6691-42-5501. They are not doing delivery or take out, so be sure to come in or order to-go to enjoy this wonderful food. And tell them I sent you!

FINALLY! Love from a sushi-snob, right here in Mazatlán

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Photo from the Mahi Sushi Facebook page

It all began with a photo on Facebook, similar to the one above, posted by my friend Gaby. Since she lives much of the year in southern California, home of some awesome sushi, her message definitely got my attention:

“Deliiiiiiiciosoooo! Vengan a #mahisushibistro. Hiper recomendado! #visitamazatlan”

“Where is it, Gaby?” I quickly texted, and it turns out this magical Mahi Sushi Bistro (01 669 983 2801) is practically right next door to me, on Avenida del Mar in the former coffee shop site between the Hotel Don Pelayo and Hotel Amigos Plaza. Because today I am mourning the departure of my cousins who were visiting us for Christmas, we attempted to cheer ourselves up by trying this place.

And—oh my—what a place it is! Everything we were served was a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds! And SUCH generous portions! We waddled out, as the taste was so good we couldn’t stop ourselves from finishing all that we were served.

With the abundant fresh-caught fish and seafood we have available to us here in Mazatlán, it makes sense that we have sushi shops on every corner. But I’ve tried many of them, and am in love with none. I will admit that, after living so many years in Japan and commuting there for over half of my life, I am a bit of a sushi snob. Cream cheese does NOT belong in quality sushi, IMHO, and sushi menus should NOT be comprised of all cooked rather than raw fish! Don’t even get me started on the mayonnaise and kamaboko (surimi) that most Mazatlecos put in sushi rolls.

While Mahi Sushi is most definitely not the traditional sushi I know and crave,  I definitely agree with my friend: do yourself a favor and check it out!

They advertise themselves as a fusion of Japanese cuisine and Sea of Cortés flavors. The menu includes fresh sashimi, some standard nigiri, a few cooked dishes, and a creative variety of sushi rolls filled with lobster, prawns, crab, mahi-mahi, sword fish, tuna, octopus, eel, oysters, marlin, masago, and roe. Add to that mango, avocado, chambray onions, and cilantro; topped with sauces such as ponzu, Thai-style green curry, or ginger dressing; and garnished with peppers (jalapeños, serranos, habaneros, Caribbean escafaldo), garlic chips, green tea salt, or black and white sesame seeds… the heady combination of international flavors made me feel that I’d died and gone to heaven! I owe you, Gaby dear!

Sous chef Jorge

Sous chef Jorge and a sample of the generous portions

Chef Ricardo worked at Nick-san in Los Cabos. We are so fortunate that he has brought his eye for flair and his excellent taste to Mazatlán! He has taught his sous-chef, Jorge, who prepared all our food today, impressively well. Mahi Sushi is owned by Carlos Moreno, who is currently out of town for the holiday.

When we sat down, so many things on the menu looked so good that we were befuddled what to order. The waiter brought us over a tasting of the Sashimi Currican: spicy kani (the imitation crab made from fish cake) and avocado topped with thin slices of mahi-mahi, yuzu (soy sauce mixed with yuzu citrus fruit), and black and white sesame seeds. Oh so good! Next up were the dumplings we’d ordered as an appetizer—filled with ground smoked pork and vegetables, covered in a house sauce, served on a bed of lettuce with a beautiful fresh beet garnish.

I ordered a Mango Roll (below): spicy crab and prawn tempura wrapped in colorful soy paper, topped with fresh mango and serrano pepper. I would add that this roll did include cream cheese, which it did not need, and which was not noted on the menu. The sous chef told me it’s their only roll that includes cream cheese, unluckily for me. Other than that, the dish was superb.

Our son Danny, who always orders the best thing at the table, did so again today (below). Every one of us sopped up the incredible sauce from this dish! Crab, shrimp tempura, cilantro, mango and  avocado in a soy paper-wrapped rice roll, placed on a bed of Thai green curry sauce. This was completely to die for!

Greg ordered fried rice, which was also very good. All of this was obviously way too much food for three people, though it was all so good that not a grain of rice remained on any plate. The waiter, however, brought us a second tasting: Sashimi Black and White—thin slices of sword fish, black and white sesame seeds, purple onion relish, a crisp-fried slice of garlic, and a bit of curry oil, served on a bed of ponzu. This too was awesome.

Sashimi Black and White

Sashimi Black and White

The interior of Mahi Sushi is simple, clean, bright and pleasant.

The views from the restaurant are direct to the ocean, the islands, and downtown, looking past the cars on the Avenue, of course.

I was enthralled with Mahi Sushi, and hope it will succeed. It is a wonderful addition to our local restaurant scene. Because it’s a new place, and the staff seems dedicated and enthusiastic, I’d like to offer a few small (nitpick but important) suggestions in hopes that they might be helpful.

  1. With a place of this caliber and this price point (on the high end for Mazatlán), please purchase some chopstick rests (or chopstick “pillows,” as we say in Japanese). Otherwise the waiters have to touch our chopsticks as they clear the dishes, which is far from ideal. The rests would also add a quality look to the table setting.
  2. The climate here in Mazatlán demands coasters for cold drink glasses, or the table quickly becomes flooded. I improvised both the rests and the coasters for us today (photo below).
  3. The generous dish of shouga/pickled ginger and the beautiful serving of wasabi were terrific. I was disappointed, however, that just like every other sushi place in town, I had to ask for wasabi in order to get it. If these gorgeous dishes were served without the customer having to specially request them, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe that’s too wasteful for those who don’t eat them?
  4. PLEASE purchase some green tea and a teapot! 😉

I do hope that Mahi Sushi Bistro meets with much success. They already appear to get quite crowded in the evening, and with a young, hip crowd of clientele. Let us hope!

NOTE: Each time we write about a restaurant, we receive requests and suggestions for other restaurants to review. VidaMaz does not write restaurant reviews. We write about our every day life here, as expats in Mazatlán (“la vida Mazatleca”). If we happen upon a restaurant, bar or shop that we love or think is noteworthy, we often publish about it (if our busy lives permit). We trust you’ll understand.

Adventures in “La Comer”

Expats here call it “Mega.” Most of the locals I know call it “La Comer” or “Comercial Mexicana.” Either way, to me it’s a pretty boring place. I’m not a big shopper, I prefer the mercados to the supermarkets, and when there’s not a lot of variety in the offerings (fresh, local-grown or caught, unique), well, suffice it to say, Mega is not my favorite place in town.

So, we went grocery shopping there today, and we actually had a bit of excitement!

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First of all, we met one of my favorite painters, Maestro Antonio López Saenz. I’ve heard him speak several times, but until today I’d never met him. What a friendly, kind and gentle soul he seemed to be! Soft-spoken, warm, and hospitable. We spoke right there between the epazote and cilantro. I was finally able to make my request, which I’ve hoped for for several years now.

“Please, maestro, might you paint a painting of our malecón as the biggest gymnasium in the world? You know how every Mazatleco uses it: running, roller blading, walking, yoga, pushups, sit-ups, bicycling? It’s perhaps the world’s longest oceanside promenade, and it’s a popular free gym for so many. It would be a gorgeous painting! It would really capture the Mazatlán of today.”

He told me how the original malecón is really just the Olas Altas portion, and that this longer part down towards “La Comer” is all new. Then he and his colleague Victor shared some really exciting news!

From December of this year the Maestro will be issuing canvas prints of his paintings! He wants them to be affordable and accessible! Woo hoo! Can’t wait to possibly have a replica of a López Saenz on our walls! Bravo!

And, the excitement in La Comer didn’t stop there. Maybe I just haven’t been looking closely enough, but I saw several interesting looking products. Rather unbelievable that they were there, actually. These included sushi rice, sushi roll wrappers (soy paper), and sesame seeds in bright “rainbow” colors (yuk—artificial dyes, but fun). Slideshow below:

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Back in the dairy case, they are carrying wine sorbets, and even one that is flan-flavored!

Just when you thought supermarket shopping couldn’t get any more boring! 😉