Many foodies in town just gush over Izumi, the tiny BYOB sushi restaurant on Passyunk Ave. just across from the Singing Fountain. From what I hear, if you're into really fresh and interesting creatures from the sea served as sushi or sashimi, Izumi is where it's at.
But what if you're a vegetarian?
Izumi's food is perfectly fine — tasty, well executed, and beautiful — but, because of their small menu, there really isn't much that goes above and beyond most vegetarian offerings at sushi restaurants.
Vegetable tempura gets a little update with an accompanying 3-part tray of red pepper puree, smoked salt, and the traditional soy-based tempura dipping sauce.
The seaweed salad is visually stunning thanks, in most part, to the wonders of mother nature. Four different kinds of seaweed — one dark green, one bright green, one magenta, and one clear — are served in a bowl with a mellow soy broth and a lemon wedge. This was the shining spot in my meal, and certainly different and unexpected than the green, stringy, wakame seaweed salads at most Japanese restaurants.
The teriyaki-marinated mushroom and cream cheese maki roll is the most exciting of the vegetarian sushi rolls offered. The other four vegetarian rolls are pretty standard fare — cucumber, avocado, oshinko, and kampyo.
The one off-putting part of our meal was when our server refused to ask the sushi chefs if they would make any off-the-menu vegetarian sushi, whatever the chef desired. This is a request I often make at sushi restaurants (cucumber and avocado rolls get boring), and have never had a server or sushi chef refuse. It's as simple as pulling a vegetable or two from somewhere else on the menu, and any good restaurant should be able to accommodate such a request. Izumi's chefs were never given the chance because of our server.
Also on the menu and vegetarian are a tofu and seaweed miso soup, edamame, and inari.
1601 East Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19148