I’ve only had sushi once for a journalism assignment, so I brought along my sushi expert, Vlada, to sample the cuisine at Coral, Forest Park’s new sushi and Thai restaurant. Coral is on the corner of Desplaines and Madison in a building owned by Jim Zayed.

Zayed, who is more of a steak and potatoes man, was a bit skeptical about having a sushi restaurant occupy the space. He confessed that he wasn’t a big fan of fish, cooked or uncooked. His five adult children, though, convinced him that sushi was “in.”

So, Zayed went all out to improve the space. He re-did the façade, installed state-of-the-art equipment and added a private party room. Besides taking pride in his building, Zayed has great faith in the family that operates the new business.

Eddy Nuntarach is the owner. His family owns several successful eateries, including the New Pot Restaurant in Oak Park. Eddy wasn’t interested in sharing his life story with us. He wanted the food to do the talking.

Skimming the menu, Vlada noted the sushi dishes were moderately priced. There was also quite a variety, from classic favorites, to original creations with fun names like Fire Dragon. She was also pleasantly surprised to find an assortment of Mochi ice cream and Japanese soda.

Freshness was the hallmark of the sushi we sampled. The restaurant flies in fresh fish from Japan daily. Eddy and his sushi chef are innovative in their recipes and hungry for customer feedback. Their menu would satisfy most Asian food junkies but there were also some Western touches: a Mexican-style salmon appetizer, specialties cooked with spaghetti and Tiramisu for dessert.

Vlada and I tried it all. Coral is extending its generosity to municipal workers in Forest Park tomorrow, when it hosts a noon luncheon. They’ve invited everyone from the mayor on down. They’re hoping to drum up more lunch business, as the restaurant is already popular with weekend diners.

After leaving the restaurant, Vlada and I submitted Coral’s food to its toughest task. I reheated my noodle dish for dinner and she brought sushi to her sorority. My meal was excellent and Vlada’s sushi disappeared quickly.

So, if you’re a Thai enthusiast, a sushi adventurer, or already a sushi sophisticate, come to Coral’s sleek surroundings. Your taste buds will thank you.