Let me begin this review with one HUGE disclaimer. I am a person who had tried sushi only five times before in my life at five different locations. And needless to say, I was never impressed. That all changed with the very first bite of one of Max Kim’s glorious sushi creations. And now, after probably eating in Max’s sushi establishment at least 100 times over the last couple of years, I think it is safe to say that I am a BIG fan!
Sushi Max, located just west of the square at 224 West Main Street, is owned and operated by Max Kim. He is most ably assisted by his wife Grace. The only other “employee” that you will ever see behind the Sushi Bar is their only child Scott who is a rising sophomore at Belmont University. This extremely friendly couple both hail from Seoul, South Korea, having come to this country ten years ago. Their education did not necessarily lend itself to being owners and operators of one of the best sushi restaurants you will ever find.
Max received his college degree in Chemical Engineering, while his wife Grace is a classically trained pianist. But it was Max’s passion for food, along with his artistic nature that led him to becoming a prominent Sushi Chef.
You can see Max’s works of art in almost any of the many rolls on the menu, from the Sushi Max Roll (one of my personal favorites) to the beautiful Evergreen Roll to the Lollipop Roll to the Spider Roll (which has soft-shell crab). There is even a Rocky Top Roll for all the UT fans!
Besides the unbelievably tasty and eyeappealing rolls that Max creates, he also serves some of the most mouth-watering Nigiri Sushi you will ever try. Nigiri (for the Sushi neophyte) are individual pieces of mostly raw fish served on top of some sticky rice. Among these offerings includes red tuna, yellow tail, salmon, and snapper to name a few. For the really adventurous, Max also serves octopus, squid, eel, and sea urchin. My wife Ashlie and my oldest brother Bill never leave Sushi Max without eating at least a couple pieces of Max’s Nigiri—White Tuna—it truly does melt in your mouth!
Not all Sushi is raw. One of my personal favorite rolls is the shrimp and avocado roll (no cucumber for me, please), along with the shrimp tempura roll, both of which are cooked. And believe it or not, the fresh-water eel (also cooked) is unbelievable. And I readily admit that the very first time I tried the eel I was halfway holding my nose. Now, I just open wide and enjoy!
There are also many other things on the menu for those who just refuse to partake in all the sushi craze. My kids all enjoy the chicken teriyaki box. And for the price conscious, Max offers two “lunch boxes” that are one of the best lunch values in town, especially when you see ALL that comes with it…besides a lot of Sushi, Grace will serve you a hot bowl of very good Miso soup, along with a salad with a secret dressing that is like nothing I have ever tasted. And my oldest daughter, also named Grace, reminded me not to forget to mention the very light and refreshing sweet tea that the Kims make fresh daily.
Overall, I cannot over-emphasize just how good this sushi restaurant is. And don’t be like I used to be and think that all sushi is “fishy”, because somehow Max takes the “fishiness out of the fish” that he serves. I have been told by so many people whose work requires much traveling that they have tried MANY sushi restaurants across this great land, and they have found none better than what Max and Grace serve. And I DARE anyone to come eat some of the best sushi you will EVER have, and then try to leave the restaurant without getting a very loud “THANK YOU MA’AM” or “THANK YOU SIR” from Max, even if he is in the back washing dishes!