Planning a sushi night-out with my wife on a calm Sunday night, we headed down to Beirut. We were looking for a nice place to eat, maybe something new to try - but Beirut seemed empty... it was like a ghost town. We reached Achrafieh first; Maki Gourmet didn’t have anyone so we decided to continue to Kobe which looked so dull and empty. Following the road down to the center, we said why not revisit Osaka and here again, there was no one! The Phoenicia hotel didn’t have a single car in front of it… Impressive! Beirut seems to be sleeping that night. Deciding to head somewhere cozy yet busy, SÔ was a good choice.
“Let’s go check on Jimmy”, I said to my wife. We reached a busy restaurant where everyone seemed to be happy, smiling and enjoying some fine food. We sat around the conveyor belt where Jimmy’s friend, Roy was here to welcome us. I was excited hoping that Roy’s wraps will be as good as the ones Jimmy prepares.
The restaurant comfortably seats about 110 people inside and another 25 on the veranda. What especially stands out is the clever conveyor belt, a first in Lebanon, that rotates around the bar making it easy for customers to simply grab a plate of their favorite sushi and sashimi delicacies.
Even though the belt was empty tonight, we asked Roy for some special orders, which he prepared in minutes. With a big smile and a welcoming attitude, his rolls were tasty and prepared with love and dedication.
I’ve been craving some fine Sushi for long. Let us remember what "good sushi" stands for:
- A good sushi is something you eat and don’t feel heavy after
- Rolls that have a proper size to be eaten in a single bite
- A non sticky, non soggy rice
- Fresh fish with pleasant aromas and enjoyable taste
- Creative but non complicated creations
- A little or no use of mayonnaise
- Sauces should add a touch not cover the fish original flavor
All of the above are not so easy to find lately. If you read my latest reviews, you’ll understand what I mean.
If you know your way around, you’ll ask Roy to prepare a salad or a Temaki or whatever you crave for, because, -let me tell you a secret-, not all the Japanese rolls are the same at SO. What comes from the kitchen is different than what comes from the conveyor belt.
Calmly and happily, this passionate chef was clearly enjoying his time, rolling one piece after the other. He cuts, cleans, seasons and presents these Japanese rolls you all crave for... all with a smile
The formula is clear and simple:
- No colored plates
- No different pricing
- No complication
- All plates are the same costing 7,600L.L each
- Just grab and eat
Without going into extensive details, the sushi rolls were all superb. We enjoyed our dinner to the max, appreciating adequate textures and flavors; The crisps are all fresh and crispy, the sesame seeds add a fine and interesting flavor, the fish used is so fresh, the size of each piece is just perfect, the avocado is full of taste and melts under your teeth like butter, the mango rolls are exquisite… Everything tonight was perfect.
Our favorite bites were the spicy salmon temaki and the crazy crispy temaki. Two hand rolled cones filled generously with small quantity of rice and a large quantity of fish and most importantly, the nori leave is crunchy not chewy.
PS: Taste the salmon skin maki where crunchy dried salmon skin is mixed with crab and seasoned with a sweet teriyaki sauce. Superb!
We paid $50 per person with no alcohol but left happy, fulfilled and not feeling heavy. I love this experience that I'll repeat soon and invite you to do so as well.