Review: IOU Sushi in Boise and Nampa
IOU Sushi has been recommended to me by a reader, as well as my girlfriend’s family. I finally got the chance to go the other week, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed my experience so much that I had to go again, photo the hell out of everything, and take notes to write a review. They have two locations, one in Boise, and the other in nearby Nampa. I understand that the menu options are the same at both locations, but I’ve only eaten at the Nampa location thus far. You can order À la carte off the menu, or go for the “all you can eat” option for $25 bucks. Not a bad deal at all if you’re a sushi pig like me.
IOU Sushi is a typical small and crowded sushi joint where you huddle around the sushi bar yelling out your orders to the sushi chefs. That intimate setting is nice sometimes, and gives you a more hands on experience with your sushi because you get to watch it all being made right in front of you. But be prepared for a lot of bantering with the sushi chefs, who are eager to do what they can to get a smile out of you. That may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it’s enjoyable now and again. I had the pleasure of being served by Sosal and Wally, both exceptional sushi chefs and both extremely happy guys that seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs.
What impressed me the most about IOU Sushi though, was how fresh everything was. Seriously, they offer some of the freshest tasting seafood of any sushi restaurant I’ve eaten ate. Which is saying something having eaten at sushi restaurants all over Portland, Seattle, and even Malaysia. Everything was of the highest quality in looks, smell, and taste.
The second thing that “sealed the deal” for me was the taste of their rolls. These things are delicious. Even their nigiri is awesome. Let me tell you about a few, in order of deliciousness, and please do yourself a favor, go try them for heaven’s sake.
IOU Sushi Dishanei Roll in Nampa and Boise
Well, this is it. This is a new sushi experience for me that has forever changed the way I see sushi. The sushi gods personally came and visited IOU Sushi and taught them what they eat in sushi heaven. The Dishanei is stuffed full of crystal shrimp, which is a cooked shrimp and scallop combination with tobiko (tiny fish roe) and mayonnaise. This crystal shrimp is divine on its own, but then they add spicy crab to it and drizzle it with a sweet sauce. Delicious, but I found it was even better ordered spicy. That brings in the kick of sriracha sauce and is utterly perfect. Best as a hand roll in my opinion. So damn good.
IOU Sushi Big Joe Special Roll
So this roll is not on their menu, but rather on their specials board. I hope they make it a standard menu item because it completely rocks. It is made with a lightly seared tuna (perfect) that had black pepper on the outside, avocado, some mayo crab, green onions, and a sweet sauce topping. It was peppery but not overbearing, lite, soft, colorful, and packed full of flavor. I don’t even like raw tuna, but this was an awesome roll.
Spicy Mussels at IOU Sushi, Best Mussels Ever!
Yes, truly the best mussels I’ve ever had. Again, super fresh. They’re so clean it tastes like they pulled them straight out of seawater, cracked them open, and tossed them in the oven as soon as I ordered them. Do they have one of those Star Trek transporter thingies?
The mussels are covered in a spicy mayonnaise and then baked to perfection. Simply topped with a sprinkling of green onion. That’s it, but that’s all they need to be. Complete perfection doesn’t need much sometimes. Watch out when you order them though. You’ll find you need 24 before you’ve had enough.
IOU Sushi Upside Down Shrimp
Yum. Yum. YUM! They take a steamed shrimp, split it so it lays flat upside down, then top it with scallops and tobiko in mayonnaise with a touch of onion hidden in it somewhere, and a drizzle of sweet sauce. I only got 4 of them, but could easily eat 20. Next time perhaps.
Quail Egg Shooter at IOU Sushi
So I couldn’t find this on the menu anywhere, but my fellow eaters knew about them and ordered me one. There’s something about a raw egg staring at your face that’s a bit intimidating, but I strongly urge you to be brave and try this thing. I never knew that a quick “pop it in your mouth and swallow quickly” item could pack so much flavor as it shot past your tongue. I don’t even know what all was in it, but it was freaking tasty. Rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, green onion, some ginger I think, maybe some sriracha, and of course, the raw quail egg. These were all apparent. Anything more is a mystery to me. All I know is that the recipe creation around this thing was nothing short of genius. Whoever you are that came up with this, thank you!
IOU Sushi Adds Lemon to their Salmon Nigiri
Well this is a no brainer. Take delicious fresh salmon, throw it on some sweet rice, and top it with thin lemon slices. I prefer salmon raw over cooked any day, and with some fresh lemon? Forgetta bout it…
Bronco Roll at IOU Sushi Isn’t Blue and Orange, but it is Tasty
Boise love’s their BSU Bronco football. They should love this roll too. Tempura shrimp, cream cheese, crab, green onion, and sweet and sour sauce. Makes for a tasty treat. Another please.
Not all Rolls are Perfect at IOU Sushi
So it’s not that the following rolls weren’t good, because they were, but they were simply just OK and nothing grand to write about. I would say skip these when you order and stick with my recommendations above.
- Rock and Roll Roll – good, but other rolls are much better. Though the guy sitting next to me couldn’t stop raving about it, so who knows.
- Saudalor Roll – this roll was trying too hard. Waste of time.
IOU Sushi Has the Freshest Sushi in the Boise Area
In conclusion, IOU Sushi is delicious, and you can eat a lot of it for a flat $25. Their rolls are terrific; some of their features are very unique; their chefs definitely know what they’re up to; it is a loud, crowded, obnoxious atmosphere which is a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood; and each time I’ve gone I’ve left feeling very glad that I went. There are other sushi restaurants in Boise that possibly have more robust flavored rolls, like Sushi Joy, but IOU is probably where I’ll end up visiting the most often.