Culinary Artistry at Origami
Origami is one of the best sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities. Over its thirty-year history (seven of those years in its current Uptown location), Origami has received around 100 awards from all manner of local foodie publications.
And yet somehow, I had never been.
I rectified this error just before the new COVID restrictions hit and I am pretty sure I have a new favorite sushi joint. If you are looking for your next batch of lockdown take out or (if the restrictions have lifted) are looking for a safe, delicious night out – treat yourself to some of Minneapolis’ best Japanese.
There are only three sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities that are Japanese owned and operated. Origami is one of those three. Founder, owner, and operator Kiminobu “Ichi” Ichikawa, not only brings a lifetime of experience to Origami’s kitchen, he also is a delight in the front of house. Charismatic, enthusiastic, and incredibly knowledgeable, Ichi has made Origami what it is today.
Because Origami is Japanese owned and operated, you might be surprised by some unique menu items and serving techniques there. For example, when you order the sweet shrimp nigiri not only do you get a piece of nigiri topped with shrimp and a delicate twist of lemon, you also get a deep-fried shrimp head on the side. The light sweetness of the nigiri with the earthy crunch of the deep-fried shrimp is a perfect flavor and texture pairing. And I dare you not to feel special when your server gratuitously overfills your sake glass (which is set in a small dish, so the extra sake is a drinkable bonus).
Origami is in the heart of Uptown, right across the plaza from Lagoon Cinema. Conveniently located right off the greenway and directly next to a parking garage, it’s easily accessible no matter how you’re getting there.
Origami has been rigorously following state and city guidelines throughout the pandemic. All employees are masked and stay on top of disinfecting routines. The restaurant expanded their patio over the summer and when it started to get cold outside, they installed plexiglass barriers inside so foodies like you and me can eat out safely. There are also scannable QR codes at every table that allow patrons to digitally access the menu. Physical (disinfected) menus are still available.
If you are not comfortable eating out (or if it is not possible due to current COVID regulations), worry not. You can call the restaurant directly for takeout or use a service like Door Dash or Bite Squad for delivery. Origami is always ready to help satiate your sushi cravings.
Origami has a great drink menu, no matter what you are looking for. Personally, I had one of Origami’s rotating cocktails, a sweet and tangy lychee-infused masterpiece. From there I switched to a fragrant green tea, which warmed me to my core.
If you just want your usual domestic beer or a house wine, of course, Origami has you covered. But if you want an across the board Japanese flavor experience, the drink menu does not disappoint. Whether you have a wine, beer, or whisky palate, there are several options straight from Japan. It goes without saying that Origami also has an impressive sake menu – and don’t forget that if you order a cold sake your cup will be poured beyond overflowing!
There are some fun non-alcoholic beverages to choose from as well. One of these options is Ramune, a Japanese soda that dates back to the 1800s. Ramune is a delightfully sweet, carbonated beverage with a twist. When you open a Ramune, a glass marble falls into a chamber in the neck of the bottle. There it will stay, clinking merrily away with every sip. It is a quirky, fun way to add a little something to your child’s (or your!) beverage.
If the kids in your life are anything like the kids in my life, they do not need to be convinced that sushi is delicious. Snacky finger food is always a win and my niblings are reasonably adventurous eaters to begin with. That said, if raw fish is a bridge too far for your kiddo, veggie rolls are a popular option and I’ve yet to meet anyone who does not like a bowl of ramen. There are plenty of other kid-friendly menu items, from edamame to wontons to mochi.
The lineup of appetizers at Origami is bar none. You are sure to find some new favorites among classics like edamame, miso soup, and seaweed salad.
Personally, I have never met a dumpling that I did not like, but the lightly charred dumplings at Origami now occupy a very special place in my food-loving heart. On the other hand, I am a lifelong wonton hater, but I fell in love with Origami’s perfectly deep-fried puffs of cream cheese. I have never had such a wonton–so golden, crunchy, and creamy.
I could go on (The shrimp tempura! The spicy clam!), but before we get too hungry let’s move on to the main course.
No matter what your level of sushi comfort is, you are sure to find something delicious on the menu at Origami. My personal favorite was a tuna toro nigiri that quite literally melted in my mouth. We mostly ate nigiri at our meal (red snapper, shrimp, squid, and tuna), so I can comfortably recommend nigiri and sashimi. And if the TNT roll we tried, which was refreshingly crunchy and spicy enough to be surprising, is any indicator, you will definitely enjoy anything that this kitchen creates for you.
Mochi is my default dessert choice whenever it is an option. Mochi is tasty, fun to eat, and looks beautiful on a plate. Origami serves its mochi with jaunty Chocky sticks and daubs of whipped cream, which is sure to deliver some gorgeous photos for your gram.
I also ordered a little bowl of red bean ice cream, which is a favorite flavor of mine. I stole a bite of my friend’s black sesame ice cream, which was a new flavor for me, and one well worth trying if you like desserts that mix earthier flavors with the sweet.
If you are looking for an authentic sushi restaurant where your cup will literally overflow, your safety will be a priority, and every bite is as oishi (delicious) as the last – make sure you bump Origami to the top of your list!