195 Main St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
Cuisines: Sushi, Japanese
Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10; Friday 5:30 to 11; Saturday noon to 11; Sunday 4 to 10.
Price Range: Moderate
Noise Level: Intimate
A black iron pot of miso brimming with soft poached salmon and slices of carrot and onion, a soothing meal by itself; a jellyfish maki, full of crunchy, spicy threads of fish; terrific sashimi of yellowtail, white tuna, and scallop; well-stocked, interest
Entrees, $9.95 to $25.
Raw-fish fanciers can be single-minded, concentrating on nigiri and sashimi and ignoring whole swaths of a restaurant’s menu. No doubt this approach pays off at some places. Here it amounts to missing the forest for the trees.
That’s not to say the fish isn’t good and fresh. But to get the most out of Joss, a tiny bandbox of a restaurant, you have to paradigm-shift yourself away from ordering by the piece from the long printed sheets that constitute the à la carte menu.
Look to the bound menu, where the best dishes are canny in compensating for the inconsistent fish supply most sushi restaurants have to face, relying on fresh veggies and herbs and thoughtful arrangements of seemingly disparate ingredients.
A trio of toros served on oversize spoons is a sensuous essay in contrasting textures and intensities—a delightfully slippery toro topped with a soft purée of mountain yam; a melting, almost pork-belly-like toro; and a toro glistening with sesame oil and chili oil. Another trio, this one of fatty fishes, includes diced salmon belly crowned by baubles of salmon roe that counteract the buttery richness, and yellowtail topped with delicate bonito flakes. Slices of grilled mackerel are set alongside Japanese mustard greens slicked with a soy-citrus dipping sauce, and thick, pâté-soft slices of ankimo (monkfish liver) wrapped in soybean skin are played for drama against a crunchy seaweed salad.