Living in the Midwest, it sometimes seems like you can never get the fresh sushi you oh so desire. I searched around the downtown area to find a sushi restaurant that doesn’t cost you your week’s pay. I came across the very social-media-present Formosa, and can say for myself that their food not only looked great, but it tasted even better!
I sat down with manager Vita Liya, who has worked there over 5 years, in the restaurant’s lounge area just after close to talk a little about the restaurant. There was upbeat music with no words playing in the background – something you would hear in a high-end fast-paced restaurant. There are two entrances – one through the ped mall, and the other from Hotel Vetro’s lobby.
The look of Formosa may imply you would be paying big bucks for the food you’re getting, but don’t be fooled by the fancy appaulstry and folded napkins. They are very aware their biggest percentage customers are college students from the University of Iowa, and their prices reflect that. They have a lot of great deals, such as $4 rolls, to gain more customers who will then see their already low prices and want to come back.
I asked Liya how Formosa tries to keep their connection to the study body, and her answer didn’t surprise me because they are constantly popping up on my Facebook account and Twitter already.
Liya said to keep their social media presence constant they host a lot of contests, posts on “how to” on their Facebook, and encourage interaction with followers by asking questions. Their “how to” posts consist of things such as how to use chopsticks, how to do a saki bomb, or how to eat sushi properly. They try to post educational things on their page as well, for example, they will give information on why fish is healthy for your diet.
Another way they connect to the student body is by giving some of their profits as donations for student organizations, events, foundations, and greek houses. One way they do this is by creating a roll for a specific organization, such as Dance Marathon, and a certain percentage of that sell goes directly back to that organization.
What Formosa has to offer that most similar Iowa City restaurants don’t is a fun and young atmosphere that also is welcoming to families, and is more upbeat rather than relaxing.
A unique factor about their menu items, more specifically their sushi selection, is that they incorporate things that are familiar. Names of their rolls are informal, but they are used to create a visual of what the roll looks like. If you order the caterpillar roll, your sushi is going to be designed to look like a caterpillar.
Sushi is not the only thing found on their menu. They also carry common appetizers, fresh asian wraps, spicy crab salad, entrees with chicken, baked fish, soups, drinks, and more.
Liya insisted that a lot of people are intimidated by sushi or afraid to try sushi, but a lot their menu is first-timer friendly. They have cooked sushi options so you’re not going to eat a piece of salmon right away. There are a lot of options to ease your way into it.
Some great news for lazy college students or those who are stuck at work is that they just began a delivery service at the beginning of March. (319-338-8880)
So, for those of us who are craving some sushi, want a fun place to go to, and are in the Iowa City area, Formosa is the place to be.