Oishi Sushi is a small lunch counter located on the second floor above Shoppers Drug Mart on Main Street. It’s truly a hidden gem.
Oishi means tasty or delicious in Japanese. The name is certainly an apt description of the food offered.
Although it is tucked alongside the hallway leading from Zoomz to Hair Sensations, the venue is appealing. A clean and bright counter fronted with high-backed, black leather dining chairs. Owner, Hyejung Chung, greeted us with a broad, beaming smile and invited us to “Sit, sit.”
He bustled about, handing us a menu together with a large, laminated card that described what we could expect in each dish.
The counter soon filled with what appeared to be regulars, and there was much chatting and laughing.
Clients milled about ordering food to go, which was prepared by a smiling woman, Yong Kim, behind the counter. Her hands were never still, rolling rice and fillers in the sushi roller with deft rhythmic flicks of her wrists. Orders were created quickly and were eagerly scooped up by the waiting customers.
The Oishi menu has 60 separate offerings, featuring two new Korean dishes, including Mandu, which is four steamed dumplings filled with minced pork, bean sprouts, green onions, sweet potato noodles and tofu, served with mandu sauce for only $5.
There are 27 choices of maki (roll) sushi, including Dragon Roll; 12 choices of nigiri sushi, including red snapper; six choices of sashimi, including salmon; seven various combos from nine to 60 pieces each; six side dishes such as kimchi (salted napa cabbage, red chili powder, minced garlic and minced fruit) and wakame, a seaweed salad.
I saw a vegetarian combo being prepared for a to-go order and decided it would be perfect for me: an order of 24 sushi rolls made up of eight avocado, eight vegetable and eight cucumber, together with wasabi and pickled ginger cost me $11.95.
My companion settled on her favourite dish, Korean bibimbap, which is steamed rice topped with vegetables, bulgogi beef, cooked eggs with miso soup on the side, all together in a beautiful bowl at a cost of $13.00. My friend is vegetarian so she substituted the beef for tofu strips and topped the dish with spicy chili pepper sauce.
The green tea we ordered arrived in cups decorated with turtles, a creature that can only go forwards, never backwards, and it seemed the perfect symbol for the venue.
I thought I would be taking some of my lunch home, but it was so oishi that I ate it all, right then and there.
People came, ate and went in the hour we were there, obviously familiar and on short lunch breaks. But the absolutely busiest part of the space was by the order corner where the to-go business simply flew.
We visited, we nibbled, we sighed with delight. The food was fresh, tasty and well-prepared. The service fast and friendly. Their green tea was different than what I was accustomed to and very good.
When it came time to pay, I was pleasantly surprised with the bill. I order by desire rather than price and never know what to expect when it comes time to pay. The prices at Oishi Sushi are very affordable, ranging anywhere from $3.95 to $13, depending on how big your appetite is. Both my friend and I were completely sated for the small sum of $25.
Oishi Sushi is located at 211 Main Street, second floor, and features Japanese and Korean cuisine. They are open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.