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A small place with big taste

Owings Mills restaurant serves exceptional sushi

Ashley Parks

Staff Writer

Summary: Sushi Ya, a small Japanese restaurant in Owings Mills, provides great ambience and even better sushi.

The small, two window restaurant tucked between a mattress and shoe store in Valley Centre shopping center on Reisterstown Road may not look like much at first glance. However, the food served at Sushi Ya Japanese Restaurant might leave a big enough impression to keep you coming back for more.

Customers that enter through their doors are met by a trickling pond of koi fish and a smiling waitress. Seating is plentiful and decorative. Several tables sit along a wall of paper frames. Behind those frames is a mysterious yet mesmerizing light source that changes color every few seconds. A curious shrine and bamboo also add to the room’s unique decor.

Once seated, a waitress brings warm, steaming towels to sanitize guests’ hands and asks if they would like something to drink. Options range from the typical Coke products to Japanese beer.

The menu is packed with countless options, organized by type: maki, nigiri, cooked rolls and special rolls. If diners want more options, a black chalkboard can be found to the right of the sushi bar, advertising the specials.

After the order is placed, men behind the bar begin rolling and dicing with practiced hands. It seems almost like a performance: the bar as their stage, paper lanterns are their spotlights and gurgling rock fountains are their backdrop. The chefs, in their green robes with Japanese characters, turn out a plate of eight rolls in a matter of minutes.

The presentation of sushi here is certainly worthy of appreciation. Neatly arranged and delivered to the table on a white plate or wooden board, each roll is identified by the waitress. They are perfectly compact and full of flavor. The fish is as fresh as if it was caught just moments before serving.

If one’s appetite survives the sampling of sushi, a selection of desserts is available. The green tea ice cream is an interesting, yet satisfying choice. It is smooth in consistency and light in flavor; a perfect finish to a delicious meal.

Sushi Ya has occupied the Valley Centre for about 20 years now. It sees a steady number of people throughout the year. There are some new faces and some veteran patrons, but no matter who is coming in, they will likely find themselves leaving with a full stomach and a smile of satisfaction.

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