Restaurant Reviews

Michiru Sushi Does "Crazy" in a Delicious Way

See more sushi creations and get a look behind the scenes in our slideshow.

Michiru Sushi is not the kind of place you go when you're craving a California roll and a bowl of miso soup. Looking over the res­taurant's menu, you might not even notice the list of ­common sushi rolls that includes spicy tuna or Phila­delphia. You probably won't register the teriyaki, curry or pad thai, ­either.

You'll be too busy ogling the culinary masterpieces traipsing out of the kitchen to spend too much time with your nose in the thick, extensive menu. As a waiter sets down an appetizer that resembles a colorful bird's nest or a little pink purse of a tuna dumpling at the table next to you, you'll be tempted to bust out the When Harry Met Sally ordering tactic: "I'll have what she's having."

The descriptions in the menu don't do justice to the complexity and beauty of the sushi rolls that are the stars of Michiru's daily show. From the moment I sat down for dinner, servers glided past me with plates of food that more closely resembled sculptures than anything you might find in a produce bin. It was a graceful ballet of plates bearing colorful modern artwork being lifted above diners' heads, then gently alighting before captivated and hungry diners.

The Ocean Nest appetizer indeed looks like a nest; it's composed of brightly colored strips of mango, cucumber, and raw tuna and salmon beneath a halo of crispy fried onions. An uni shooter is presented in a small glass, the different elements (uni, green onions, soy sauce, sake) layered to produce the effect of a sand painting or terrarium. And then, in a blink, they're gone, down the hatch, with only the savory, buttery essence of the uni and a hint of acid lingering on your tongue.

As magnificent as most of the appetizers at Michiru are in form and function, the sushi rolls, while intricate and beautiful, left something to be desired — something crunchy or bright or unexpected. After the dizzying array of colors and flavors that sent my friends and me into a state of bliss early on in the meal, the dishes grew progressively less interesting. They still resembled miniature culinary works of art, but textures muddled together and the flavors ceased to surprise or delight.

In a town rich with stellar Japanese restaurants, such as Kata Robata, the nationally recognized Uchi or even Soma, it can be difficult for a smaller and newer operation to set itself apart or rise above the rest. Michiru is getting there, thanks to the creativity and thought that go into each of the dishes, as well as its great prices. But it's not there yet.
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The upscale Greenway Plaza strip center off 59 across from the constant hubbub that is the Lakewood megachurch is not where you'd expect to find the glamorous dining room or quality seafood of Michiru. This location opened about a year ago, and the owners have another location in Webster, which uses the same menu but has a slightly more casual atmosphere.

Not that Michiru is decidedly un-casual. During a lunch visit I sat at the bar next to two women in surgical scrubs enjoying a break from work at the nearby Methodist Emergency Care Center; on another occasion I noticed several couples dressed as if they were going on a hike rather than enjoying dinner in a smart, trendy restaurant. No one was out of place, but something about the alternately modish and zen design aesthetic, the chic blue lighting at the bar and the many stylish water features invites people to get a little gussied up for a fancy meal.

An air of sophistication permeates the restaurant's dining room and wraps around to the bar, which boasts 20 cold sakes and one warm sake, heated in a special machine that, the staff tells me, costs around $2,000. At the equally swanky sushi counter, dexterous chefs are constantly at work chopping, fileting and rolling some of the loveliest Asian cuisine in town. Seafood is delivered to that counter from all over the world every other day, then immediately incorporated into a regular menu item or prepared with a creative twist and added to the list of daily specials.

I encountered live scallops on one visit — though, as the server pointed out, they aren't alive when you eat them. Another dinner featured fresh uni, which our lively server produced seemingly out of thin air, because I couldn't find it on either the regular menu or the ­special list. It was some of the best uni I've ever tasted.

Helpful suggestions like these from the servers are part of what makes dining at Michiru so entertaining, though I've heard from a few sources that not all the wait staff are as knowledgeable as the gentleman who suggested my table try geoduck, another off-menu special. I highly recommend asking for whatever seems fun and exciting the day that you dine and seeing what your waiter and the talented chefs devise.

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Kaitlin Steinberg