Last night I decided to try Snappy Sushi (formerly Shino Express) in Davis Square. My first impression: the name is silly. It makes it sound like some bad chain restaurant that would have a cute little mascot.
My second thought when I walked in was that I really don't like communal round tables. I can kind of handle communal long tables, like the ones at Wagamama, but round tables are so awkward. You're staring across at a total stranger while trying to concentrate on the conversation you're having to your right or left. I think a lot of the fun of a restaurant is that when you're at your table, you're in your own little world, and you can almost pretend you and whoever you're with are the only ones dining.
However, my lack of enthusiasm for the name and dislike of the configuration of tables waned when I read through the inventive menu, filled with the odd foods Shino was famous for. Example: a portobello mushroom maki? Roasted red peppers with eel? It was all very intriguing.
Snappy Sushi, besides its inventive rolls, differentiates itself from the pack by using brown rice, white rice's healthy cousin. I was a bit hesitant about this, but it turns out that I really enjoyed it!
I opted for an old classic, a spicy tuna roll ($4.95), and tried a new one, the crispy eel maki ($7.95). The latter was eel, avocado, cucumber, and flying fish roe topped with crunchy tempura bits and eel sauce. I discovered when I opened my take-out bag that it wasn't just topped in tempura flakes, it was smothered in them. You couldn't even distinguish individual pieces of sushi. The eel sauce and some unidentified creaminess (mayo?) made these crispy flakes into a mushy mess.
The spicy tuna roll was uninspiring due mostly to the fact that it wasn't spicy! The tuna tasted nice and fresh, but I could not detect any heat from it, and had to pile on the wasabi.
I can't be definitive about Snappy Sushi since I only tried these two rolls, but I don't think I'll be heading back anytime soon. Though I think other sushi places should follow suit with the brown rice option...