Sushi satori

I love trying ethnic cuisine when I get the chance and sushi is definitely one of my favorites.

It’s not an everyday affair for me to get to sample this Japanese delicacy, but this small sushi grill in central Madison County is a good place to test it out when possible.

This joint is hidden in the back of a large plaza, featuring plenty of other nearby eating spots. It’s small, but the name of the restaurant is prominent once in the giant parking lot. It’s been here 11 years, so it has a pretty dedicated following.

Walk through a vestibule into the small dining area, featuring tan tile floors, two-tone green walls and high ceilings. There are small wooden tables and chairs throughout, separated enough for intimate dining with a small group or a date night.

A couple of TVs on the walls offer entertainment. It’s a fairly quiet atmosphere.

The front counter shows the sushi chef working hard making the proper cuts and preparations behind a glass partition. Japanese-themed decorations adorn the walls and the servers and chefs dress in authentic Japanese clothing.

The service is phenomenal, too. This place is great for sushi rookies with lots of questions, and there are menu items to avoid sushi if that’s not your thing.

I visited with a couple of friends, and I was all in on the sushi. I ordered a caterpillar roll, a California roll and a shrimp tempura roll. To kick things off, I went with an order of miso soup.

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese delicacy featuring a stock called dashi with different ingredients mixed in, depending on where you try it. Here it features the dashi with spinach and tofu added. The broth was super sweet, which I loved, and had the earthiness of the fresh spinach added for good measure. I’m not a tofu person, but I did eat it. It featured its normal bland taste and didn’t add anything besides aesthetics to the experience.

Next came the rolls. Each roll is individually priced and comes with 5-8 pieces.

I started with the California roll. It’s a good starter roll for eaters not familiar with sushi and cheaper than most. It takes crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped in a rice roll. It was a little bland, but a little soy sauce did wonders for it.

Next I dug into the caterpillar roll. You may have to get a little braver to attempt this, but it’s well worth it, in my opinion. This is one of my favorites. It features unagi, cucumber and avocado. Unagi is a freshwater eel. The moniker caterpillar roll comes from its appearance, featuring the eel and cucumber covered with a large slice of avocado. When the roll is laid out, it looks like a caterpillar.

The taste is sensational. It’s so fresh and if you like avocado, that drives the taste, but the eel also has a rich flavor. My favorite is the sauce drizzled down the avocado, which adds a splash of sweetness.

Finally, I turned to the shrimp tempura roll. Again it included avocado and cucumber, but also featured the fried shrimp. Everything was wrapped in seaweed. I had to remove the tails on the shrimp, but loved the crunch of the whole roll. The cucumber really drove the flavor. It’s also drizzled with a sweet sauce.

Some of the other rolls in our dinner group included a dragon roll, a crunch roll and the chef’s special with crab, eel, cucumber and cream cheese. There was also a ginger salad ordered and the bento box.

The bento box is intriguing; it included rice, two sushi pieces, four California roll pieces, vegetables, two pieces of shrimp tempura and miso soup to go with your choice of teriyaki chicken, teriyaki salmon, steak and shrimp, hibachi steak, hibachi shrimp and scallops and more.

Overall - four and a half stars

Cleanliness - four and a half stars

Service - five stars

Food - four stars

Price - $$

Any idea of the name of this sushi grill in central Madison County? Scroll down  to see if you’re correct.

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ANSWER: Nori Sushi & Japanese Grill, 1025 Century Dr. in Edwardsville