Boise has grown a nice sushi niche over the past several years. Local sushi chefs have buzzed from kitchen to kitchen, pollinating the Boise sushi scene like bees on a lilac bush. In the tiny shopping and dining district that defines Hyde Park you'll find Taste, which has perfectly filled the need for a sushi bar in the North End. A palette of cool blue and rich chocolate brown sets the restaurant's comfortably trendy mood, where the wait for hand-cut raw fish may be a little longer than at other sushi bars in town.

"We may not be the fastest, but we have the best quality ingredients and the best sushi cutters in town," says proprietor Erik McLaughlin. And arguably the best presentation as well. Each plate that passes from chef to diner looks like an edible arrangement of rainbow colors and geometric shapes. Not only is the sushi lovely to the eye, it is pleasing to the palate. I confess that Taste has become my favorite sushi spot in Boise. The prices are a little higher than what you'll pay elsewhere, but you don't come to Taste for bargain prices. You come for the hip vibe, the cold sake and interesting wine list, the more than 100 bottles of beer in the fridge and the feeling that you are dining at a secret little gem.

On one recent visit I brought husband and sons along for a pre-Steelheads game dinner. While seated at the bar and chatting with Taste's head sushi chef, Ray, I asked him to make a special roll and a nigiri for me. His eyes lit up as he told me he'd dreamed a new roll the night before and was hoping to try it out on someone. He dubbed it "today's special" ($12.95) and it rocked: firm ahi tuna, eel and daikon radish were wrapped in rice and nori then draped with avocado slices. Placed next to it, two nigiri portions of ruby red ahi. Each bite tasted like the sea. One of our sons went for the 13th Street spicy crab roll ($13.95) made with avocado, tuna, King crab, wasabi cream and spicy Sriracha-aioli sauce. The other son devoured his crunchy Crane Creek roll ($11.95) comprised of tuna and crisp salmon skin, wrapped in rice and nori then topped with sliced avocado, squiggles of spicy Sriracha sauce and black sesame seeds. My husband had his usual, the sushi combo ($18.95). Its appetizing rainbow roll and seven pieces of nigiri visually popped with colorful pinks, oranges and greens.

The next time you want sushi, instead of sharing a bottle of cold sake and chatting pleasantly with friends while you wait for your order at Taste, go somewhere else. That way I'll have the whole place to myself, and Ray can get his freshly cut sushi to me faster.

—Jennifer Hernandez bonds with her family by watching hockey players beat the you-know-what out of each other.

Taste, 1530 N. 13th St., 336-5122. Mon.-Sun.: 5 p.m.-close

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