Food & Drink

Squid-Free Sushi: A Visit to Midvale’s Ika Sushi

At Ika Sushi, they take their rice seriously and it is very good. There is an art to making sushi rice and Ika has nailed it. Sushi chefs are as flattered by compliments about their rice as they are their artful rolls, sashimi and such. 


The word “ika” in Japanese refers to squid or cuttlefish, which might explain why there is a mural of something sort of looking like a cross between a squid and a carp on one of the walls at Ika Sushi in Midvale. Interestingly, I didn’t see any squid – or cuttlefish for that matter – on the Ika Sushi menu when our family visited recently. Having said that, there is A LOT of other fish and seafood to enjoy at Ika, both raw and cooked. The specialty here – as the name implies – is sushi. 

First, a word or two about what sushi is and what it isn’t. Many people equate sushi with raw fish. And yes, raw fish can be a component of sushi. But sushi is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of vinegared rice combined with various ingredients such as raw or cooked seafood, vegetables, and sometimes tropical fruits. It’s often wrapped in seaweed (nori), formed into bite-sized pieces, and served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Sushi can be served as rolls (maki), nigiri (a small mound of rice with a topping), or sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish without rice). Sushi is justifiably renowned for its delicate flavors, beautiful presentation, and cultural significance in Japan and around the world. The point is that most sushi is as much about the rice as what accompanies the rice. 

In Japan, sushi apprentices are treated harshly, often spending years doing menial tasks like cleaning, bussing tables and such before ever dealing with food preparation. Until they have worked for three years or so, sushi apprentices might not even be able to touch sushi rice. Again, sushi is all about the rice

At Ika Sushi, they take their rice seriously and it is very good. There is an art to making sushi rice and Ika has nailed it. Sushi chefs are as flattered by compliments about their rice as they are their artful rolls, sashimi and such. 


I typically like to begin a sushi meal with a few pieces of nigiri, which normally come two pieces per order. As Ika we enjoyed excellent fatty yellowtail, sea bream, albacore, and amberjack nigiri. One sign of good sushi – as is the case at Ika – is that not all of the nigiri comes with the same topping (or no topping). At the best sushi restaurants like Takashi, Yuki Yama, and Kobe, the sushi chefs top their nigiri with custom toppings, depending on whatever is on the rice. Sometimes it might be a smidgen of sauce, a snippet of scallion, or perhaps just a sprinkling of black sea salt. 

I.K.A. Roll

Since sushi is the specialty at Ika, it’s no surprise that there are so many maki roll options. I counted 30 of them, ranging from a simple California Roll ($9) to the complex I.K.A. Roll ($17.50) with spicy tuna, fried shishito peppers, cucumber, gobo topped with kanpachi, special green sauce, tobiko and chives. 

The Joker Roll

Another outstanding maki roll at Ika Sushi is called The Joker ($15.50). It’s a scrumptious roll with layers of flavor that includes salmon, avocado, and spicy crab topped with fresh tuna, fresh lime slices, eel sauce, sweet chili, and wasabi tobiko. 

Soba Noodles

Of course Ika Sushi offers much more than just sushi. Ika specialties include halibut Carpaccio ($18.50); Salmon with black truffle ($20.50), seared Garlic Albacore ($19.50); Miso Cod ($18); Tempura ($17); Tonkatsu ($18); Udon bowls ($15-$16); Uni Noodles ($24); Yakisoba ($15-$18); Ramen ($15.50); and much more. A vegan at our table enjoyed a bowl of very well-prepared cold Soba Noodles ($11): cold organic buckwheat soba noodles served with dashi soy dipping sauce, negi, shredded seaweed, wasabi & daikon. Guests can add optional assorted veggie tempura to the soba noodles for an additional six bucks. 

Veggie Roll

Ika also offers guests nine different vegetarian rolls, including a Groot Roll ($9) of pickled radish, gobo and shiso leaf; Inari ($9) sweet tofu roll; Ume ($9) with pickled plum, shiso leaf and cucumber; Elixir Roll ($11) with avocado, asparagus, cucumber, gobo, fresh mango and jalapeño; and others. Our vegan guest enjoyed the Veggie Roll ($10) made with asparagus, cucumber, avocado, gobo and sprouts. 

Crunch Roll

For folks who like crispy tempura, I recommend the Crunch Roll ($13.50), which is shrimp tempura, cucumber, and crab mix rolled in soy paper with crunch and eel sauce. The Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll ($15.50) with spicy tuna, avocado, jumbo shrimp tempura, eel sauce and sweet chili sauce is also crunchtastic. 

Sunset Roll

One thing I love about sushi is that it’s so shareable. Since maki rolls are cut into bite size pieces, it’s easy for six or eight people to get a taste of a single roll. One of the favorites at our table was the Sunset Roll ($13.50), a delicious maki roll stuffed with crab mix and avocado, topped with slices of salmon, thinly sliced lemon, negi and ponzu. 


In addition to soft drinks, hot tea, Ramune, sake (including a sparkling sake and gluten-free sake) and imported beers, Ika Sushi offers a smattering of white wines and one red, so if you’re a wine drinker you might want to BYOB. Corkage is $15. Dessert choices include strawberry, mango, and chocolate Mochi ($8), Crepe Cake ($9), and velvety, rich, and scrumptious Ube ($6.50) ice cream made with purple yams and served with apple and strawberry slices. 


I saw a review online of Ika Sushi recently where the reviewer wrote, “This is the best sushi you will find in Utah. Takashi, step aside – you have been dethroned.” Well … I don’t think Takashi has anything to worry about. Look, there are plenty of really good sushi spots in Park City and the Salt Lake Valley, and Ika Sushi is certainly one of them. It’s very good, but it’s not Takashi; not even close. The fish selection is more routine at Ika, as are the presentations. The beverage program at Takashi is far more robust – apples versus potatoes, really – and the ambiance at Ika can’t hold a candle to Takashi. Having said that, Ika Sushi is an excellent Midvale restaurant that doesn’t have the wait lines at dinner time like Takashi usually does, and I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’re in the south end of The Valley and in the hunt for top-notch sushi. 

Photos by Ted Scheffler

Culinary quote of the week: “Don’t dunk your nigiri in the soy sauce. Don’t mix your wasabi in the soy sauce. If the rice is good, compliment your sushi chef on the rice.” Anthony Bourdain 

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