Nori Makes Nice with Veggies & Rice

By John DiGilio in Food on May 25, 2011 7:40PM

Veggie sushi is considered an oxymoron to some, while others say “why bother.” But for those of us who have sworn off meat (and yes, fish is meat, folks) being able to join our friends for fun at a sushi bar and order something other than animal wrapped in rice is important. True, most sushi places offer some form of vegetarian sushi. Cucumber and avocado rolls can be found just about everywhere. The truth is that not all veggie sushi is created equal. Even rarer are those places, like Nori, that offer meatless specialty rolls.

Our first visit to Nori a few months back left us underwhelmed. We were there for a group event and had no control over what was served. Not much there for us herbivores. We wanted to be fair, however, and reserve our judgment for a time when we could try the fare on our own terms. What a difference a second chance can make! It turns out that Nori has an extensive menu of meatless options, including an impressive list of vegetarian maki. They even have a special “signature roll” for their veggie patrons.

On this visit, we went straight for the unique. For the non-adventurous eater, Nori has vegetarian standards like the above-mentioned avocado and cucumber maki. They even offer rolls made from veggie favorites like spinach, oshinko, sweet potato, and shitake mushrooms. But what caught our eye and tempted our palates was something called the “mo yassai”. A roll stuffed with deep fried asparagus, avocado, kampyo, cream cheese, scallion and spicy mayo, it was beautifully arranged and presented with a topping of delicately, fried daikon. It was almost too artistic to eat, but delicious to the last bite. We paired it with some miso soup and a delightfully sweet tempura banana for a fantastic meal.

They say that first impressions can be deceiving. Nowhere is this more true than in the food biz. There are always going to be good days and bad days. Clearly, our second visit was a very good one. Talk about sweet second chances. Nori took this one straight to the bank and made satisfied customers out of some very finicky vegetarians. Arigatou gozaimasu for a great experience!

Nori Sushi is located at 954 W. Diversey and is B.Y.O.B.