Food & Drink

April 15, 2014

New Myrtle Beach sushi joint impresses with style and menu

Gut Reaction for April 17, 2014

CO Sushi is at 3098 Deville Street at The Market Common, Myrtle Beach. The number is 839-1733. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Monday, open until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Setting the Table

The word “CO” is Vietnamese for “feast.” An Asian feast is exactly what CO Sushi owner Greg Bauer intends to bring to The Market Common. Bauer expands his CO brand north from his King Street location in Charleston. The spot is ideal, next to the Stone Theatres’ Grand 14, setting up shop last month in Devo Olive Oil Company’s former spot.

The décor is modern/contemporary, accented with aged brick, red walls and bright red booth seating. There are high-top tables for two or four and a long communal table. There’s also seating at the sushi bar and the booze bar, which has bay doors that roll open for outside seating. The artwork displays a glamorous Vietnam. Trip-hop and R&B music permeates as a mix of patrons, from the flip-flop casual to families to couples on dates to suits and ties, gather.

Down the Hatch

The cocktail menu is pretty impressive, stocked with distinctive drinks. There’s a CO 75 ($10), mixing gin and champagne. Some other colorful drinks include Bloody Ginger Tequila ($9), Lemongrass & Ginger Martini ($9), Jalapeño Guava Margarita ($8.5), Mandarin Colada ($9) and Sriracha Mary ($8).

My wife went with a Blueberry Sage Martini ($9.5), made with gin, muddled blueberries, sage syrup and lavender. It was sweet and stout. I went with the nonalcoholic Lychee Iced Tea ($3), an ultra sweet blend of fruit and tea.

The wine list boasts global selections ($6 to $8.5 per glass and $24 to $34 per bottle) and six types of sake ($6 to $22). The beers are a varied bunch with no neglect of local flavor. Myrtle Beach’s New South Nut Brown ($5.50) is represented, and you have your choice of two Charleston brews, Holy City Pilsner ($7) and Westbrook White Thai ($6).

For those not having an adult libation, you can ramp up with a Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($3.5) or rejuvenate with a Coconut Juice ($3).

Our server walked us through the menu. Even though we’re old-hat at ordering sushi, plenty of folks aren’t, and it’s nice to see foodies take the time to explain a new menu. The food is just as distinctive as the drinks.

Vietnamese offerings include dumplings – pork and ginger, sambal beef & kimchi, edamame and crispy chicken wontons (All for $5). Other Vietnamese fare are large bowls of varied noodles and rice dishes ($12 to $16).

But we came for sushi. Chef Tarquino Vintimilla introduced a pressed sushi special for the Myrtle Beach menu. Traditional types of sushi rolls are pressed with maze gohan rice, like a sushi sandwich. We ordered the Pressed California ($8). The taste wasn’t altered, but the sticky texture made for a new pleasure.

We ordered from the Sashimi Ceviche section of the menu. Ceviche is like a sushi salad, and we ordered hamachi ($11), but we received ahi poke. A fortunate mistake, they brought both and took one off the bill. They were equally delicious. The hamachi had yellowtail with a citrus/garlic zing. The aha poke had tuna with a delayed sting of hot chili. Both were served with plantain and sweet potato chips.

We also ordered a Sweet Chili Salmon Maki ($8), Hawaiian Makimono ($13) and a Crispy Dynamite Roll ($12). The Sweet Chili Salmon was the weakest of the three, only because the Hawaiian roll exploded with island flavors – tuna, pineapple and mango. The Dynamite Roll blended spicy sakana, cream cheese, masago and spicy aioli, making a tang with staying power.

Check, please

No dessert menu yet, but Cold Stone Creamery is directly across from CO. We were told by Andrea Carinci, assistant general manager, happy hour specials would be implemented in the coming months, but for now, there’s a Sunday Funday special with $3 Guava Mimosas and $5 Sriracha Marys. Patio seating is also in the works.

The strong suit of CO is the menu’s fearlessness. Yes, you can get your traditional nigiri or sashimi (single pieces of sushi) for $5 to $9. But there’s also pork belly, duck and pickled radish. Vegetarians and meat-eaters both have plenty of options. The presentation and the place scream “urban and hip.” Our tally before tip was $77, but sushi is an experience, and we walked away with a lunch. That is what will bring us back – each section of this innovative menu may hold new treasures.

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