Ohana Sushi opened its doors to Sparks on July 1st, 2019. They serve sushi burritos, poke bowls, à la carte sushi and all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sushi. The sushi burritos are available for $9.95; the poke bowls run $10.95 to $13.95; AYCE sushi lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and runs $17.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids; AYCE sushi dinner is available from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and runs $23.95 for adults and $17.95 for kids. The lunch and dinner prices draw from the same menu with no apparent “dinner only” offerings. Diners can enjoy AYCE sushi for $19.95 during their Happy Hour on weekdays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Moving from Diner Fare to Sushi Flare
Ohana is a Hawaiian term that means family, both blood and chosen. Ohana Sushi is operated by the Lopez family, and the staff takes special care to make sure that everyone feels welcome.
When my wife and I popped in for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, we were fortunate to speak with co-owner of Ohana, Lili Lopez.
Lopez advised that she and her family formerly owned Lili’s Restaurant & Bar on Kietzke Lane in Reno. Lopez explained that she is always on the lookout for opportunities for her and her family. When the space where Ohana Sushi is now located became available, Lopez knew that she had to jump on it.
The family boasted a sushi chef, a server and ample general restaurant experience before opening Ohana.
Lopez explained that Ohana is still in its soft-opening phase. It was difficult for her and her family to decide to open at the start of July, because a few of the restaurant’s preparations were not quite complete.
The restaurant’s final menu is not yet complete, so a working menu is standing in during the meantime. The Lopez family is still waiting on their employee uniforms. All this said, Lopez advised that the community has been overwhelmingly supportive and patient during this initial process.
Despite the menus and uniforms, just about every other aspect of the restaurant looks well-designed and put together. Sunshine yellow and navy blue accent much of the restaurant. Various pieces of art pay homage to Hawaii. One of the sushi chefs shared with my wife that his friend handcrafted the metal tuna art pieces hanging above the bar as well as the mermaid in the ladies’ restroom.
Standard tables, high tables, outdoor seating and an L-shaped bar that spans the length of the restaurant allow for a packed house.
Appetizers and Prep
The first items to arrive at our table were the prep trays. Accompanying the trays were wasabi, soy sauce ramekins, pickled ginger and noodle-ized cucumber salad. My wife and I both thought that the salad was crisp, fresh and tasty.
We both noticed that the wasabi seemed to break away from the norm. As far as I can tell, many of the wasabi’s around town are composed of finely ground horseradish that is dyed green and sold in a tube. These varieties are distinctly homogenous. The wasabi at Ohana seemed like it might have freshly ground horseradish in it; it was mostly homogenous, but with radish-y particulate. Once we mixed it with a little soy sauce, we both agreed that there was nothing off-putting about it.
We started our meal with miso soup and mussels. The miso contained soft tofu, miso paste and scallions. Some will lament or celebrate the absence of nori in the soup. The mussels were disconnected from their feet and garnished with sriracha, scallions and mayo. Both appetizers were executed well, but neither rose above average.
Ohana Sushi’s Nigiri Hits All the Marks
For nigiri, we ordered salmon, Cajun salmon, tamago (omelette), albacore (white tuna), seared tuna and quail egg shooters. The rice-to-fish ratio was excellent all around. The grain of the rice seemed short and maybe a touch soft, but we enjoyed it. The rice seemed adequately vinegared.
I thought readers might benefit from note cards identifying various dishes photographed together.
The salmon was tender and fatty and included lemon slices on the side. The cut of the lemon wasn’t razor-thin, but that doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I eat the whole slice and sometimes I try to extract the citric juice onto the sushi.
The Cajun salmon was missed on the initial go-around. Getting it after an additional request was no big deal. This one tasted of blackening spices, and it wasn’t entirely dissimilar from the flavor of jambalaya.
I had never eaten tamago prior to this outing, so I was excited to try it. I was surprised that it wasn’t especially eggy. The nori and sweet sauce dominated the flavor. The firm texture of the egg was unusual but enjoyable.
The seared tuna was tasty, but otherwise unremarkable. The albacore, on the other hand, was outstanding. Upon eating a piece, my wife laughed when I uttered a literal, “Oh, yeah.” The fish was especially tender. Scallions and spots of sriracha helped to elevate the dish.
The quail egg shooters were smoky, eggy and had just the right amount of vinegar. The scallions and tobiko were well-proportioned. We would have welcomed a dollop of sriracha, but we also didn’t miss it. As always, we toasted to, “Love’s eternal embrace.” It makes us laugh every time.
Ohana Keeps Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’
For hand rolls, we ordered the Rock & Roll (add sriracha) and the Tempura Veggie. For long rolls, we ordered the Battle Born, the Smoking Gun and the Black Widow.
The Rock & Roll came out as a long roll and without sriracha, but we didn’t mind too much. The roll includes tuna, jalapeño, cucumber, lemon and cilantro. The jalapeño and cucumber added great crunch. The lemon and robust amount of leafy cilantro were great together.
The Tempura Veggie got missed initially, but here, too, we never had to wait long for the reorder to arrive. The handroll contained thinly cut and fried yams, carrots and zucchini alongside a drizzle of teriyaki. It arrived with the nori well-sealed and crispy. The size of the roll and the quality were wonderful.
The Black Widow also required a reorder. During the soft-opening, we were happy to extend some extra patience. In all honesty, when we sit at a table, we always expect some amount of reordering to be required. It’s never something we’re concerned about. The roll includes cucumber, softshell crab, mango, avocado, tobiko and teriyaki sauce. Fruit with sushi isn’t often my preference, and that held true here. It was really the crab that I was after, but ultimately, this one wasn’t for me. My wife enjoyed it.
The Smoking Gun included spicy tuna, cucumber, cilantro, salmon, sriracha and a lemon sauce. The cilantro, here, too, was prominent and welcome. The lemon sauce had a mild sweetness to it, and it really complimented the roll well. This roll ties for my favorite of the afternoon.
The final roll, the Battle Born, was another standout favorite. It includes spicy crab, salmon, lemon, Hamachi (yellowtail tuna), jalapeño, green tobiko, ponzu (thin, citrus and vinegar sauce) and sriracha. The lemon, Hamachi and ponzu really shined together. The fat from the salmon, the heat from the jalapeño and sriracha and the myriad of color all contributed to this roll’s excellence.
We ended our meal with mango mochi and coconut and lychee ice cream. The coconut and lychee ice cream is divine, and it’s just what you want on a hot summer afternoon.
Ohana Sushi’s Details
Visit Ohana Sushi at 1560 S. Stanford Way, Ste. 102, Sparks, NV 89431. They are open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Happy Hour is weekdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Give them a call at 775-453-9722.