Ah, sushi. A traditional Asian fare, the nori-wrapped rice and seafood delicacy is now a virtual dining staple for many Americans across the country—from chick metropolitan cities, to quiet coastal towns, to Midwest suburbs. Yes, Virginia … there is a Santa Claus and, as it turns out, there is wicked good sushi in the landlocked states too.
Sushi’s exotic appeal had me at hello
Believe it or not, being a West Coast girl the first time I had sushi wasn’t in Seattle or Portland or Los Angeles, or anywhere in between. No, the first time I tried sushi was at a well-known restaurant in Denver—not the Midwest where I live now, but still landlocked. I can’t remember exactly what we had, but I loved it and was instantly drawn in by the composition, the flavors and the mindset that I was eating something exotic. Over the next few years, I quickly learned where the good sushi houses were and became a frequent flyer of the California roll, anything with eel and anything with salmon roe.
The California roll was invented in the 70s at the Los Angeles restaurant, Tokyo Kaikan
Nowadays, living outside of Indianapolis, I’ve had to rediscover where the best sushi in town is … and in all honesty, it’s been a fun road to drive. (Or should I say “swim”?) Luckily, Chiba—a new spot a mere ten miles down the road from where I live, opened its doors last year and they’re making some of the best sushi I have ever had—and every time I go, the place is hopping so I’m encouraged to think it will remain a viable hangout for this mermaid and all you land-lovers too 😉
“Chiba’s where we go after work.” ~ said one waiter from a nearby restaurant
The best part about the restaurant—other than the food—is the energetic vibe fueled, on many nights, by local musicians and plenty of patrons. The owners opened their first Chiba in New Orleans, and after their initial success decided to expand here, just outside of Indy. I for one, am glad they did. As for the menu … it’s as diverse in its sushi offerings as the seas is with fish. Although, I have to admit, I order the same thing every time—yes, it’s that good I just can’t help myself. So if you go—and I hope that you will—order what strikes you, ask your server for a recommendation, or do as do and choose the following:
Tiradito—a traditional Peruvian dish similar to sashimi. This rendering has salmon, tuna and yellowtail with a sprinkling of sea salt and truffle oil ($17) … and even if you’re not a fan of sashimi, you have to try this. The yellowtail melts on your tongue and will turn you into a believer in no time!
Crawfish Fried Rice—a little bit of New Orleans, this fried rice is loaded with hon shimeji mushrooms and is perfect for sharing with your dinner date.
Mauna Loa Sushi Rolls—a stunning combination of goodness topped with a fresh jalapeno that will knock your socks off … almost as if you were staring down the Hawaiian volcano’s crater. It’s a special, but if you don’t see it on the menu, be sure to ask if they can make it. It’s hands down my favorite roll ever. Yes, ever. Alongside the Mauna Loa is the spicy tuna roll.
Bottom line: In case it isn’t obvious … this is the BEST sushi I have ever had. Time and time again, it is consistent, it is tasty and it’s unique. Well worth the drive north (about 25 minutes) from downtown Indy. GO!!!
A Note About Sustainable Sushi
Learning the ins and outs of ordering sushi is hard enough—let alone wondering what’s made with sustainably caught and or raised seafood, and what’s not. I’m currently working on a project to help you, help me, and every sushi-loving being out there (mermaid or not) know if the sushi you’re ordering is sustainable. Stay tuned … I expect the post to be up late next week.
Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews.
DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox