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Yoi Tomo Sushi & Grill


Sushi should be simple. Fresh hunks of high-grade raw fish, maybe a veggie or two, some sticky rice and nori. That's it. It's the kind of meal that makes you want to do jumping jacks or learn the cello after you've polished off your last slice of pickled ginger. Oddly, many sushi joints in town have taken to Americanizing this fresh, energizing meal by super-sizing it, deep-frying it and drizzling it with mayo.

Yoi Tomo, the newish sushi spot across from Edwards 9 in BODO, falls into the above category. In addition to the all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner options ($17.99, $24.99), the menu has an entire deep-fried specialty roll section, which includes hefty beasts like Ten Ten ($11.50) with fried shrimp, cream cheese and spicy crab, all thrown in the deep-fryer and topped with eel sauce. Even the menu, itself, is overwhelming. Page after page of appetizer, nigiri, sashimi, hand roll, specialty roll and grill options litter the laminated pages. Not to mention, there's an additional menu insert with movie-themed rolls.

Mini posters accompany snapshots of rolls like the Last Samurai ($13.50)--chicken thigh, cream cheese, crab, cucumber, avocado and sweet radish double rolled with seaweed paper and rice paper and then drizzled with four freakin' sauces. Or the Twilight roll ($13.50), which is served, literally, on fire.

On a recent visit to Yoi Tomo for lunch, a pal and I settled into one of the only open tables in the intensely-red room and began wading through the menu. After selecting an appetizer of Yoi Tofu ($5.50) some white tuna ($4.50) and yellowtail ($4.99) nigiri, and a basic salmon roll ($4.99), we jumped into the deep-end of the specialty roll pool and ordered the Leaving Las Vegas ($11.50).

Jelly jar-sized fried nori rings encased spicy tuna, Japanese sweet carrot, salmon, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese, all topped with eel sauce. While the roll had a pleasing crunch, we both agreed there was far too much going on--in both size and number of random ingredients--for the roll to be enjoyable. The nigiri, on the other hand, was rockin'. Both types of fish were fresh and buttery, cut into not-too-big, not-too-small chunks and laid atop a clump of bouncy, sticky rice. The Yoi Tofu, piping hot, medium-firm tofu cubes lightly fried in tempura batter and swimming in a mildly sweet soy sauce, was also stellar. There was just enough crunch to keep things interesting and the tofu retained a nice heat that warmed its way down the esophagus.

Due to Yoi Tomo's proximity to BWHQ and the convenient fact that it's on the Boise Weekly Card, I've gone there a number of times for the simple lunch special--six pieces of salmon, tuna or red snapper nigiri and a California, spicy tuna, tuna or salmon roll, served with miso and a side salad for $10.99-$11.99. And after my recent foray into movie-themed specialty roll territory, I decided simple is the way to go at Yoi Tomo, no matter how flashy the previews may be.

--Tara Morgan shudders to imagine what's in a Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus roll.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Yoi Tomo Sushi & Grill.