Yesterday afternoon I was invited out to lunch and my dining partner suggested we head to Origami Restaurant in North Loop for some sushi. Never passing up free lunch I made the 3/4 of a mile walk in the absolutely gorgeous 90+ degree weather to Origami to have what many consider to be the best sushi in Minnesota.
We arrived just before they opened at 11:30. We waited around outside while trying to keep in the shade and out of the direct sunlight beaming down from above. The building which houses Origami is made of beautiful brick and is located a few hundred feet from the river in the North Loop section of Minneapolis. We made our way inside and decided to sit at a table. We were seated near the front windows and our server delivered the hot towel and took our drink orders. While I realize that the hot towel is the norm and part of the custom, I found it pretty hilarious on a day which topped 102F.
While waiting for our server to come back we took our time looking over the space. Long and narrow, the first floor of Origami is small but certainly not cramped. As the lunch hour rolled on, plenty of people were seated around us and we did not feel uncomfortable and the noise level was never too much; definitely nice even if you were there for an evening meal for a date. While everything at head level and below was nearly perfect, looking up towards the ceiling revealed a disturbing amount of dust hanging down and swaying to and fro as the ceiling fans did their duty circulating cold air from a single window A/C unit in the middle of the restaurant. After staring at the faux sphagnum moss dripping from the ceiling, my dining companion simply said, “I really wish I had not seen that,” and I could only mutter, “gross,” while nodding in agreement and carefully keeping one eye on the ceiling to ensure none was making its way to table level.
Our server took our orders from their lunch menu with both of us choosing the Sushi Lunch option which included five pieces of sushi (chef’s choice), choice of: Spicy Tuna Roll, Spicy Yellowtail Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll or California roll, as well as miso soup and salad for $14.95. Definitely a great deal for a good bit of sushi and sides, especially so close to downtown proper. I went with the spicy yellowtail and my dining companion went with the spicy salmon.
Soon after our miso soup and salads arrived. The miso, while almost too hot to eat at first, was delicate, flavorful and easy to eat. I usually prefer more solids in my miso than was presented here but overall I was quite pleased with the soup. The salad was a step above your typical side salad and included a plump and sweet cherry tomato, thick cucumber slice, some fresh broccoli, and a very tart soy/ginger dressing. My only complaint about our starters was that there was entirely too much dressing sitting on the bottom of the tiny bowl; enough for the remaining lettuce leaves to nearly float away as I attempted to rescue them from the flood.
Before our starters were finished our entrees arrived. While we were fully expecting the chef’s choice items to be the same we were nonetheless disappointed when we saw the same pieces of nigiri between the two plates. In addition to the same items between the two of us, the options were pedestrian at best and included salmon, shrimp, tuna, yellowtail and flounder. The rolls themselves were nicely put together and were of an above average size.
While I am certainly not extremely well versed in eating sushi, compared to say eating ghost pepper laden dishes, I have eaten it at many restaurants across the nation and especially in the metro and have a pretty decent idea of what a baseline should be. With that noted, my dish was acceptable. There was absolutely nothing presented to me which set Origami apart from any number of other sushi establishments I have visited but the food was well prepared and, for the most part, tasty. Aside from the yellowfin nigiri, which was very buttery and flavorful, the rest of the items were pretty standard fare. The roll was more spice than anything else. In fact, the spice was so apparent in both rolls that I had a very difficult time discerning any of the other flavors. While I’m certain the average diner could care less about the flavors of the fish, especially when only shelling out $15, I expected more from a sushi restaurant which comes so highly recommended by others. While I preferred the spicy salmon to the yellowfin, it was simply due to the fact that more salmon flavor was present in that roll than mine.
After our meal a dessert menu was provided and an order for three assorted flavors of mochi was placed. My dining companion chose mango, chocolate and strawberry for $5.95. Mochi is one of my favorites and I was looking forward to trying it. It was eventually delivered and already starting to melt and stick to the plate as I pulled two sticks of what seemed to be Men’s Pocky (mmmm) from between the pieces. The mochi itself was good but my dining companion found their texture to be off-putting but proceeded to finish their half of the order.
When it was all said and done the bill came to just under $40 for two and included starters, entrees, and dessert. Not overpriced by any means regardless of location and certainly not for being so close to downtown, and certainly worth your time if you’re in the area. That said, overall I wasn’t as impressed as others seem to be with Origami, at least not during the lunch hour rush, and I can’t say that I’ll return to try again even if they have won as many Readers Choice awards as they have.
Have you ever eaten at Origami in Minneapolis (or Minnetonka)? If so what did you think? What do you like to order when you go there? Do you feel that you get superior items if you sit at the bar rather than a table? Even though they are not known for it, have you eaten anything other than sushi? If so what did you order? What other sushi places do you typically prefer within walking distance of downtown Minneapolis? Whatever you have to say about Origami in Minneapolis go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
30 North 1st St
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 – 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Friday: 11:30 – 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Saturday: 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Sunday: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
See all the pictures from Origami Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis on Flickr here.