There’s no shortage of decent sushi bars in our area, but the newly arrived Okinami is next level. Surprising in all the right ways, its calming decor, preternaturally friendly staff and superbly crafted food are tucked into an unremarkable Norwood strip mall like a pearl in an oyster. And, while Okinami’s curated menu takes getting used to, it’s worth the effort - especially if you’re feeling adventurous.

The stars of Okinami’s menu are what are called sets; chef selected assortments of sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi - some familiar, some unique to Okinami. The sets are available in different quantities and change daily based on the chef’s inspiration. One set featured ika nigiri, a gleaming bite of squid tenderized to butter-like consistency and draped over rice with an aromatic shizo leaf folded in and garnished with a dab of fish egg. Elegant to look at for sure, but the tang of the shizo, salt of the fish egg, heat of the wasabi and creaminess of the squid was spectacular. A different set boasted two luscious slices of arctic char sashimi cured in something delicately woodsy. Fantastic and completely new to me. There was also an ever-so- slightly seared sashimi that I thought might be tuna, or perhaps white tuna, but honestly, whatever it was, I wanted more. Even more unusual was nigiri topped with a thin cured mushroom cap burnished like mahogany and tasting of earth in the best possible way. The chef/owner explained that he likes to experiment with curing and fermentation techniques. This would explain some of the delicious and unusual flavors prevalent at Okinami.

If the sets are too exotic for you, there are some standard starters: pan-fried gyoza, steamed shrimp shumai, and edamame. All are perfectly acceptable. There’s also Japanese style fried boneless chicken with a sweet and sour flavored aioli that’s a little cloying, and fried squid with Furikake, a common Japanese seasoning mix for rice. There’s also Sake Don, glistening slices of lightly cured salmon atop a bowl of seasoned rice, and Unagi Don, slices of smoked eel over seasoned rice. Both are exquisite - indeed, the rice alone at Okinami, paired with house-made soy and pickled ginger, is worth a trip. There are also futomaki; oversized multi ingredient rolls for those who like things in one package. I’m sure these are tasty, but such care is taken with each ingredient at Okinami that it seems sacrilege to mush things together into a mega roll.

Okinami opened about five months ago and has quickly built a passionate fan base of appreciative foodies, take-out junkies, and young families. Prices are comparable to the quality (lunch is the way to go if you’re on a budget) and it’s currently BYOB.

460 Livingston Street, Norwood, NJ (201) 767-1300,