When I visited Santa Fe for business, I was excited to try out some new food there. As I walked around, I realized how “touristy” the town is, which was not so great… They had gift shops after gift shops, and restaurants with pricey Mexican type food items. Since I am not really a big fan of Mexican food, I instead decided to try out some Japanese food. I know, going to Asian restaurant while in Santa Fe… I might be unusual, but at I know what I like. So, I wanted go to a restaurant that was Japanese owned and operated (which DOES exist in Santa Fe!), but it was closed on this day. Instead, I went to this place, Izmi, not owned/operated by Japanese, but came with high reviews.
The inside was not too big but not too small. Good amount of table and booth seating. I arrived shortly after they opened, so it was almost empty at that point. I was taken to a small table by the window.
They had sushi counter at the back wall, and since I was only going to order some sushi, I asked if I could sit at the sushi counter. One of the male staffs moved with me without issue, very friendly staffs here. The sushi chef who is also the owner of this restaurant was busy making sushi with his mother (?) I think.
I started off with Salmon ($5.50/2pcs), Tuna ($6/2pcs), and Ikura ($7/2pcs). A bit pricey, but common for tourists-heavy town. But, I am always willing to pay more for high quality food. I heard this place have high quality sushi, so I was excited to try them about.
I read a sign right outside that said “More Fish, Less Rice” and that sign was so true to what I witnessed. It had really nice, thick slice of tuna on top of small amount of rice. The portion of raw fish against rice was amazing!
Same goes for the salmon. Very thick slices of salmon on a small amount of rice. I was super happy! The fish was tender, fresh, and really tasty. Just look how they are glistening… The only thing I would say is that I would’ve liked to have a bit more vinegar flavor in the sushi rice. Other than that, they were great!
Now, my favorite, Ikura (salmon roe) which usually get small portion on top of rice, but here, that was not the case. It had a generous amount of Ikura on top which was awesome! Again, very fresh and high quality.
I also tried out some of their rolls. The first choice was Spicy Tuna ($11). It came with six pieces, with end pieces looking like rabbits with long bunny ears.
It is made with tuna, avocado, cucumber, daikon sprouts. The rolls are really fat, which is great when it comes to portion, but it also makes it a bit hard to eat. Especially, the ends are not possible to eat in one bite. Not only the size of the piece is big, but even more, the size of ingredients in the piece are really big or long. I had to pick at the ingredients piece by piece, before making it small, bite-size potion. As for flavor, it had a nice amount of tuna, which dominated the roll, as it should. Many of spicy tuna rolls that I’ve had in a past had tuna tartare in the rolls, so I was surprised to see the regular tuna piece in the roll. It was not spicy though, which was disappointing. If I think of it as “Tuna” roll, then it was good.
The second choice of the roll was New Mexico ($9). If I am not going to have a traditional New Mexican cuisine, then at least I was going to have a sushi roll named New Mexico.
New Mexico is made with shrimp tempura, green chile, red pepper, avocado, & crab mix. This one also came with six pieces, and even fatter than the spicy tuna roll. I was expecting this one to have more fire, but it also lacked in spicy flavor. Another disappointment was the Shrimp tempura in the sushi, it was not good. The batter was under-cooked. Therefore, leaving the batter a bit mushy. I felt like they used too much batter on it, causing it not to be fried correctly. Then, the issue with eating the end pieces…I really struggled with this one. I was excited for this New Mexico roll the most, but it was the least favorite of all.
At the end, i ordered hot Jasmine Tea ($3) which came in a pot. It was a big pot for one person. But for $3, you should get a good amount of tea…
I was well taken care of by two male staffs there, Jordan and Mario. They were both very nice and accommodating. I felt welcomed by them and also the female waitresses who first greeted me at the door. The owner, however, was not so friendly. I heard he is very friendly to the regulars, but not so much with the new customers. I am not sure if that is what was going on, or he didn’t like having a Japanese customer who might be judging his sushi creation? Well, I believe we all are critics of all the dishes we consume, regardless of what type cuisine it is… Anyways, it was a bit sad and cold feeling not to get the welcoming feeling from the owner… Oh, and they have this strict “No Cell Phone” rule, which I thought was unusual. When I was taking photos of the sushi with my phone, I was told of this rule too. But then, I was forgiven since I was not talking on the phone, or sending the photos to anyone while in the restaurant. Interesting…
At the end, I really enjoyed the regular sushi pieces, not so much the rolls. The nigiri sushi pieces are awesome! I would recommend the nigiri for sure. High quality, and you will certainly get good, thick slices of sashimi on the rice.
Izmi Sushi & Asian Cuisine – 105 E Marcy St, Santa Fe, NM 87505