I don't often get the opportunity to go out for lunch, and so today when Matt and I had a rare Friday off together, we decided to make the most of it by trying Origami, a local sushi restaurant that's been on our list for some time.
I love sushi, but I find that we eat the cute, tiny fish-topped rice rectangles less often here than we did in the States. I'm pretty sure the reason has something to do with Stuttgart being quite far from any major body of ocean water. Of the 3-4 sushi restaurants we've tried in the city, the quality has either been very good and expensive or abysmal (think tasteless, fried frozen, or worse -- fishy!) and less expensive. Despite my past disappointments, I'd heard good things about Origami from from friends and colleagues, and was looking forward to our meal there.
We did something that we usually don't do enough and made a reservation ahead of time. There were several tables free around the restaurant, so we probably didn't have to. Still, they saved a lovely table for us near the window and even provided a bowl of water for Leo. The dining area was small, and I couldn't help but notice the old German Bierstube-style wooden tables and exposed beam ceiling. The room was bright, though, and they'd decorated the space with a modern color palette and tastefully placed Asian artwork.
After being seated, we ordered our drinks: an Asahi for Matt and an "Asian Cooler" for me, a drink made with ginger ale, mint, lime, and brown sugar. The menu had several such non-alcoholic cocktails, a small number of wines, and the usual German house beer in addition to Kirin and Saigon. I never know what to order with sushi since most wines don't seem appropriate, and they sadly didn't have any shōchū or sake. The ginger ale was a nice compromise, I thought.
The menu at Origami is a little different from most sushi menus that I've seen. They have a small selection of nigiri and maki with the usual tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, avocado, and cucumber. The rest of the rolls feature the same combinations of ingredients served maki light (with lettuce, cilantro, mint, and rice paper), hot spicy light (the maki light rolls with hot sauce added), maki Mediterranean (with arugula), "green" (just rice rolled in herbs), or tempura fried. There were several combination menus, as well, and the lunch menu added a few hot rice dishes and soups.
For our meal, we each decided to try the Daily Sushi Lunch which promised to be a mix of the chef's selection. I also added on a Tiger Roll (tempura shrimp, avocado, and cucumber topped with flambéed salmon and yuzu sauce) since I wanted to make sure we had enough to fill us. Our selections came out meticulously arranged on one large plate. Really, the dish looked almost too beautiful to eat, and the combination of colors was stunning. I especially liked the addition of red sprouts along the Tiger Roll -- they really made the bright green avocado and pink-orange salmon pop!
Our chef's selection included two pieces of Salmon Nigiri, a Tuna Alaska Inside-out Roll (tuna, avocado, cucumber, and a little cream cheese), and a Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll with marinated tuna. Apart from the vibrant colors on the plate, I was struck by the quality of the fish. The salmon was perfectly fatty and buttery, which has become my marker for a quality sushi restaurant in Stuttgart so far from large bodies of water. The tuna was deep ruby red and equally as fresh. The avocado was at perfect ripeness, the cucumbers were crunchy, and even the pickled ginger tasted close to homemade and not at all like the hard, over-vinegared bits that you often find in the jars. The perfectly moist (not wet) and slightly sticky (not mushy) rice was spot-on, too, which is something I've really come to appreciate after one-too-many failed attempts to make my own. My only critique is that the nigiri lacked the little dab of wasabi between the fish and the rice that I've come to enjoy after watching the masters at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo make sushi. I suspect this has something to do with being in Germany where spiciness of the hot and/or burning variety doesn't seem too common.
The quality and freshness were really what made our meal so enjoyable. While Origami is not the absolute best sushi that I've had in Stuttgart, it's certainly one of the best for the quality and price, topping even my beloved QQ Sushi. The sushi lunch plate was affordable, too, at just 11,40€ per person. Of course, once we added the 12,90€ Tiger Roll and 3-5€ for drinks, the total meal cost ended up being more than we're able to afford often for lunch. Still, Origami's sushi will make it hard to be satisfied with anything less in the future.
Origami is open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and dinner from 5:30 to 11 pm every night. The restaurant is located at Hauptstätter Str. 61 just off the Österreichischer Platz U-bahn station and directly accessible along the U1 or U14 U-bahn lines. Dogs are welcome.