Review: IOU Sushi in Boise and Nampa

Apr 23, 2012 by     9 Comments    Posted under: Boise, Idaho, Restaurants, Reviews
Sosal at IOU Sushi Nampa

Sosal at IOU Sushi 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 Dishanei Hand Roll

IOU Sushi Dishanei Hand Roll

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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.

IOU Sushi's Big Joe Roll

IOU Sushi's Big Joe Roll

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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's Awesome Baked Mussels

IOU Sushi's Awesome Baked Mussels

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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.

IOU Sushi Upside Down Shrimp

IOU Sushi Upside Down Shrimp

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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 Quail Egg Shooter

IOU Sushi Quail Egg Shooter

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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…

IOU Sushi's Salmon and Lemon Nigiri

IOU Sushi's Salmon and Lemon Nigiri

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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.

IOU Sushi on Urbanspoon

The Bald Gourmet loves sushi, especially great sushi like what IOU Sushi offers in Nampa and Boise.

9 Comments + Add Comment

  • My husband and I love iou sushi we are recent converts thanks to family. The Boise one is a little bit better but we love both

  • I’m so glad I stumbled on this review! I’ve tried a few sushi places since moving to Boise from Nevada over a year ago. It’s hard to find a good all-you-can-eat sushi place here, and I gave up on ever finding a place that served quail egg shooters. I never went into IOU because I read some bad reviews on Yelp, but now I’m going to give them a try. Serving fresh lemon on top of salmon nigiri is another huge plus, because raw salmon is my favorite and with lemon is the best way to have it, in my opinion. Now I’m suffering huge quail egg shooter withdrawals, and really hoping my visit to IOU will live up to your review!

    By the way, my boyfriend is also bald, and loves sushi. Two big pluses in my book!

    • Bald and in love with sushi…..is there any better way to be? :). I hope you like IOU. They recently changed their pricing and all you can eat policy, so it’s not as good of a value as it used to be, but the sushi quality and taste is still exceptional, at least time I was there the other month.

  • much prefer the staff at the Boise location over the Nampa. i didn’t even sit down before i felt like wally was drilling me for my order. I do recommend the nan-madol. I will get in Boise next time

    • Thanks for commenting Jennifer. The nan-madol is good.

  • I LOVE IOU Sushi! I, too, have only eaten at the Nampa location. I will have to agree with Michael on the Saudalor and add the Rock and Roll. Two of my favorites!!! I also really like the Rainbow roll. Great place to eat.

    • Pam, it’s time to get the Clifts together again and all go eat ourselves sick again!

  • good review, I’ve eaten at IOU many times, but never have had the quail egg shooter, I will next time for sure! How could you not like the Saudalor??? that one is one of my top favorites! To each his own I suppose.

    • Thanks for the comment Michael. I just ate at the Boise location the other week and found it to be just as good. I’m getting the craving again, so I’ll try the Saudalor again. Maybe it was just an off day or something when I tried it last.

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