Last weekend I attended the Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show at the convention center, and I took the opportunity to try a few restaurants in the area. One of those was Kushi Izakaya and Sushi, a restaurant I have been dying to try ever since I read that the sushi was on par with Taro. Kushi is also an Izakaya, which is kind of like the Japanese version of a pub or tavern, and features a robata (wood) grill and a charcoal grill. We definitely wanted to try some of the grilled items, but decided to focus overall on the sushi so we sat at the sushi counter (versus the robata counter or a table).
The real star of the show - the sushi! Japanese snapper, yellowtail belly, and unagi (bbq eel) were all good. Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) was excellent, of course, but we were sad that there was no O-toro. Uni (sea urchin) was sweet and buttery and briny perfection - this was the standout for me and I had to get a second order. Jasper was won over by the salmon belly - which was creamy and fatty and finished off with a sear from a blow torch, it almost melted in your mouth. He ordered it three more times! The sushi rice is perfectly cooked and the vinegar is well balanced. The nigiri are well packed with a nice punch from (real) wasabi.
Kushi makes it's own gelato, and we opted to try two of the more unusual flavors - black sesame and sea salt. I preferred the sea salt, which was buttery and salty - think salted caramel or buttered popcorn. Jasper preferred the sesame, which was smokey and strong.
I wouldn't say that the sushi is as good as it is at Taro, but it is very close; and with the quality of the hot dishes it certainly rivals it in terms of an overall meal. It's more casual and laid back, the crowd is young and loud and the music is pumping. The servers are young hipster types, and very willing to offer suggestions and advice. I consider Kushi a better choice for frequent visits, with Taro reserved for special occasions.