Restaurant Review: Nami Lily Sushi & Ramen | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Restaurant Review: Nami Lily Sushi & Ramen 

Saying goodbye to soup season with some fresh, flavorful ramen.

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ALEX SPRINGER
  • Alex Springer

I grew up in the Riverton-South Jordan area, so I can remember when we all got excited about the concept of a new Arby's moving into the city boundaries. Now that the Wasatch Front has grown and diversified, these former one-burger towns have really embraced a wide range of local flavor.

South Jordan is to the point where it has strip malls or other commercial areas that would make a decent destination for a restaurant crawl. My current favorite of these foodie neighborhoods has to be right around 1000 West and 10600 South, which is where Nami Lily Sushi & Ramen (1072 W. South Jordan Parkway, 385-887-8959, namilily.com) recently set up shop.

As I've tried to become more familiar with the nuances of sushi, I am often reminded of the late Anthony Bourdain's opinions on sushi etiquette. On top of avoiding the wasabi and soy sauce mixture, Bourdain said that diners should take note the sushi rice itself before discussing the other ingredients. Since the word sushi refers to the preparation of the rice—an age-old technique for which today's sushi chefs are still seeking mastery—it kinda makes sense. While I am definitely not to the level of sushi connoisseurship that Bourdain achieved during his life, I like to take this advice to heart when I visit sushi restaurants. There is something beautiful about focusing all one's sensory faculties on the length and breadth of a grain of rice.

I'm always happy when I enter a sushi joint that also provides steaming hot bowls of ramen, so Nami Lily was a pretty easy sell for me when I saw that it recently opened. Coupled with the fact that it was sharing real estate with Curry Pizza and Tushar, I was happy to see another regional cuisine make its way into my beloved South Jordan Parkway strip mall. It's stylish and cozy inside, and I was excited to dig into a few of their menu options.

Sushi had to happen, so I tried their Rock'n Roll ($9.95), Rainbow ($12.95) and Maxima ($12.95), along with a starter of jalapeño yellowtail tataki ($10.95). The yellowtail tataki was an excellent indicator of things to come, as it arrived on its fish-shaped platter, lightly drizzled with the chef's special sauce. It was difficult to get the ingredients out of my server, but it's a perfect citrusy complement to the thinly sliced sashimi. Each meticulous slice is topped with an equally thin slice of jalapeño pepper, which adds an herbaceous kick to the fresh flavor of that yellowtail. In short, it was exactly what you'd want at a sushi joint; the yellowtail's delicacy was showcased perfectly.

Of the three sushi rolls I tried, I may have liked the Maxima best. It's a fairly classic spicy tuna roll that comes with a bit of tempura shrimp inside and some thin shrimp ebi and spicy crab on top. The roll then gits a drizzle of spicy mayo and a ruby-red dab of sriracha for good measure. I liked the dual servings of shrimp here, which helped balance out the spicy tuna and sriracha—lots of great flavors to explore with this one.

The Rainbow was another classic prepped with glistening slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore and shrimp. It was about a quarter of the way through this roll when I recalled Bourdain's advice to compliment a sushi chef on their rice. I've had enough sushi to allow me to detect the nuances in the rice, but there was a fluffiness to the rice at Nami Lily that gave me a bit of pause. It held its shape exactly the way it should, but I couldn't deny that there was something unique and tasty about this rice's preparation. The Rainbow roll remains a classic that I would recommend to anyone, but I'm going to suggest you pay special attention to the rice to see if you noticed the same thing I did. The Rock'n Roll created a similar experience—the rice maintained that signature quality that seemed to support the fresh fish flavor on a cloud of its own starchy mysteries.

On the ramen side of things, you can't go wrong with the tonkotsu ramen with pork ($11.95), or the spicy beef ramen ($12.95) for something with a bit more kick. Their broth has a signature depth of flavor that felt familiar and new at the same time. It's always hard to compare ramen joints, but I do respect a place that puts its own mark on the broth they serve up. I could have gone for a bit more trimmings, like mushrooms or fish cakes, but this is definitely the kind of thing that will warm you up after a bitter snowstorm or a bitter heartbreak.

Nami Lily is still a bit new, and thus still figuring out a few things, but they've got a strong foundation of technique and execution to build from. I'm looking forward to checking out what else they have to offer as their concept evolves. For now, I'll continue to ponder the advice of Anthony Bourdain as I resume my quest for sushi enlightenment.

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