The Best Sushi in the Midwest

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.

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.

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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

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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