Sometimes good things do come in small packages. MAKI EXPRESS, located near UC (209 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights,
513-721-6999, no credit cards), is a tiny place with fewer than a dozen seats. It serves up excellent sushi in a warm, welcoming
When I order sushi, the many combinations often overwhelm me. With so many different rolls to choose from, I sometimes
end up with diner's remorse -- that unpleasant feeling of thinking that I should have ordered something else.
Not this time. I plopped down at the counter and asked the sushi chef to whip up three of his finest rolls. He happily
obliged. I think I'm going to stick with this approach to ordering sushi from now on.
I got the Grilled Tuna Roll ($8.50), the New York Roll ($8.50) and the Supreme Roll ($9.50). All were excellent -- a unique
melding of different flavors and textures that rivaled the offerings at some of the fancier, more full-service sushi restaurants
The Grilled Tuna Roll was delicious, made of tuna marinated with homemade sauce, garlic, pepper, cucumber, avocado and
When it came to the Supreme Roll, my strategy of putting the responsibility for ordering in the hands of the chef worked
well. Made with eel, cream cheese, tuna, salmon and cucumber, it wasn't something I would have typically ordered. I loved
it. The creaminess of the cheese mixed perfectly with the fish and rice to create a thoroughly enjoyable combination.
The star of the meal was the New York Roll. Based on the minimalist, uninspiring description on the menu ("spicy tuna and
tempura flake, avocado on top"), I probably would never have ordered this. The roll was beautifully presented, encased with
thin, overlapping slices of avocado drizzled with a creamy pepper sauce and was spicy, smooth and pleasantly crunchy from
the bits of tempura flake.
The menu at Maki Express also includes hot and cold appetizers, noodles and teriyaki and tempura dishes. Service is fast
and friendly, and everything is available to go.
Its friendly husband-and-wife owners have been in the food industry for years, but this is the first restaurant they've
owned, and it really shows: the mom-and-pop pride of the place is inescapable. Co-owner and sushi chef Likit Thumrongthaisakul,
a native of Thailand and formerly a Thai chef, learned to make sushi from a Japanese uncle who's also a sushi chef.
Maki Express is the kind of small, neighborhood restaurant that's typical in bigger, more ethnically diverse U.S. cities
like New York and San Francisco. A great place for takeout or a quick in-and-out meal, it has a bit of an undiscovered feel
to it. It's well worth a visit. Grade: A
Contact Craig Bida: cbida(at)citybeat.com