Shinano Japanese Restaurant 5222 Wilson Mills Road, Richmond Heights; 440-473-2345
A gasp of fierce wasabi, a splash of salty soy, a shout of pungent ginger, and the patient clicking of pearly chopsticks form the soundtrack to a meal at Shinano's little sushi bar. There's no pulsating house music here. No kimonoed waitresses or sunken tables. Instead, the modest decor specializes in function over form, and the restaurant's major charm is in the eating. Sushi chef and owner Jutaro Kozono ensures that the tender slabs of eel, octopus, and other exotica are thickly cut and impeccably fresh, that the rice is firm and sticky, and that the presentation is just so. If you are one of the 17 remaining Northeast Ohioans who haven't yet tried sushi, Shinano is the place to take the plunge.