On Bristol’s quaint waterfront, along a row of colorful Colonials, you’ll spot a bright blue building with a Chinese character hanging from a sailcloth curtain and know you have arrived at Baba Sushi. The first Rhode Island location of a small but mighty award-winning chain of three – the others in Massachusetts – all founded by Chef Wilson Wang. As a sushi lover, I’m beyond happy that Baba Sushi is here, complementing the already diverse culinary options in downtown’s Bristol’s small coastal footprint. Inside, the look is upscale-meets-cozy and relaxing, a perfect combo for indulging in high-quality maki and watching the sun set over the water. I was determined to try a variety of their dishes when I sat down, and my expectations were exceeded at every turn.
First up was their Sumo Oysters Supreme ($12) prepared with yuzu citrus sauce, Tabasco, black caviar, and scallions. I’ve had a recent obsession with oysters that dominated last summer, and these were some of the best I’ve ever had. For me, the combination of spicy, sweet, and salty was an innovative take on traditional half-shell heaven. The Gyoza ($6) was exactly what you’d hope for: Fried dumplings with a crispy crunch on the edge, flavorful pork on the inside, and a sesame sauce to lightly sweeten the pot.
The Poke Chips ($14) are wonton chips with tuna and avocado, served with spicy mayo, black caviar, and sesame seeds – a thick base with a tried-and-true classic sushi combination on top. It’s a great way to get your “spicy tuna” fill in the appetizer realm. The Angel Maki ($15) was made up of lobster tail tempura and sweet potato, topped with crab stick and Japanese mayo. This was an interesting combination of two semi-subtle flavors – lobster and sweet potato – brought to life with the salty contrast of crab stick, sharply hitting the mark. The “special rolls” menu section at most sushi restaurants is a place where they can bring their own unique ideas to the table; the Angel Maki roll is the first special listed for a reason. This is a specific roll that Baba Sushi is using to introduce itself.
Finally, I had what I was most looking forward to: a simple, straight-forward Salmon Avocado Hand Roll ($8). I love all types of sushi, sashimi, and maki. I’m open to all combinations, ideas, special rolls, and fusions but I do think the true test of a sushi bar is something simple. Baba Sushi served me a packed, meaty hand roll with crisp seaweed and delicious, thick slices of salmon. Perfection.