Running errands on a busy weekend this summer, my husband spotted a new sushi and Korean barbecue restaurant tucked into a business park behind Costco.
Saturday shopping regularly puts us in the neighborhood of Ami Sushi at 3613 Aviation Way, Medford, just behind the crowded retail complex along Crater Lake Highway.
When we stopped in, we were greeted enthusiastically and shown to a table. Although the dining room, which was previously a Muchas Gracias, is small, it is filled with large tables that could easily seat groups and is accented with Asian details.
Ami's menu offers a typical array of sushi, teriyaki, Korean barbecue, fried rice and a few noodle dishes.
Aiming to get a good overview of the basics, my husband and I ordered a tempura sampler ($7) to start and a super sushi sampler ($20.95) featuring 10 pieces of nigiri and four pieces of California roll and three pieces of tuna roll to share.
The tempura batter enrobing two shrimp and an array of kabocha squash, onion, broccoli, sweet potato and carrot was flaky and golden, but just a touch greasier than the best in the valley. (I would put Umi Sushi of Jacksonville in the top spot.) Two pork-filled gyoza dumplings included in the sampler were rich and meaty.
I have grumbled on these pages before about pieces of nigiri that are too large to eat easily, but I have never seen pieces as big as those at Ami. They were so absurdly over-sized, I knew better than to try to pop one in my mouth whole. Scooping them up with my hands or picking them apart with chopsticks certainly wasn't elegant, but it worked. I later learned diners can ask for the enormous Ami-sized sushi or a more traditional size.
The fish was tasty and fresh and the rice properly cooked and seasoned. The combination plate included salmon, tuna, yellowtail, mackerel, shrimp, red snapper, surf clam, eel, as well as sweet egg omelet and inarizushi, a fried tofu pocket stuffed with seasoned rice.
My husband declared the vast slab of yellowtail, which to me looked big enough to take home and throw on the grill for dinner, exceptional and said it was his favorite of the nigiri we got that day. He also enjoys mackerel and snapper and even took on the chewy surf clam, which is one for more adventurous eaters. I enjoyed the simple, even comforting, flavor of the inari and the sweet egg omelet, in addition to salmon and eel and my favored tuna, the ahi.
The restaurant was steadily busy on a Saturday afternoon and likely draws brisk lunch business from the surrounding offices during the week. It is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sunday.
— Anita Burke