ANDREW JANSEN/ JOURNAL The kobe sliders, flash fried calamari and crab Rangoon from Miso on Meramec in Clayton.

With the relentless heat this summer, something rich, heavy and warm on the plate is anything but appetizing. Lately, sushi has been one of our favorite choices for a light meal, and when it comes to sushi, Miso On Meramec certainly is a favorite choice. We’ve been longtime fans of Miso’s fine food, but knew nothing of its happy hour specials until recently.

The happy hour menu, available Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., featured a small selection of sushi rolls for $5; a group of Five for Five appetizers, which consisted of a choice of five apps from the regular menu for, you guessed it, $5 each; and a selection of domestic and imported beers, wines and signature cocktails.

We decided to forgo the happy hour beverages, opting instead for a small serving of Sho Chiko Bai ($8), a really nice crisp, dry domestic sake, then ordered a Hamachi Avocado Roll ($5) and a California Roll ($5) from the sushi selections and the Flash Fried Calamari ($5), Crab Rangoon ($5) and Kobe Sliders ($5) from the apps.

In addition to hamachi and avocado, that roll was filled with sprouts and cucumbers, while the California roll had the standard avocado and cucumber. Both had sesame seeds incorporated into the rice for a subtle crunch. Rice is everything when it comes to sushi, and the rice in our rolls was perfect, just sticky enough to remain intact and with nary a dry grain to be found.

The fried rings of calamari came piled high with a drizzle of wasabi aioli over the top. Again, the preparation was spot-on. The batter was crispy with no hint of sogginess, and the calamari was tender, not tough.

Many places with crab rangoon on the menu serve up a few doughy clam-shaped pieces with more cream cheese than crab inside. The ones at Miso, however, were more than a notch above the norm. Our order had six small, round dumplings, fried a deep, golden brown and stuffed full of shredded crab and cream cheese, encircling a bowl of sweet chili sauce—definitely some of the best we’ve had!

The thing about sliders is, they’re small bites. Yet sometimes, they come piled so high with toppings and various extras that they become almost impossible to eat, and the competing flavors zero each other out. The sliders at Miso were as subtle as the sushi, just a kobe beef patty with some caramelized onion and truffled aioli on a bun. Simple and delicious.

We had to deviate a bit from the happy hour specials for some of our favorite Nigiri Sushi, specifically Yellowtail (Hamachi) ($8) and Flying Fish Egg (Tobiko) ($5). Sushi is as much about aesthetics as flavor, and these were almost too pretty to eat. The tobiko was especially striking, a dollop of rice wrapped in deep green seaweed and topped with a cascade of orange roe that was accented with a fan of three translucent slices of cucumber. The panoply of colors was equaled by the competing yet complementary textures of the tender rice, smooth seaweed wrap and firm, spherical tobiko.

Miso has some of the best sushi and pan- Asian food in town, and the happy hour menu offers a great way to experience a sample of it for a very reasonable price.

Miso On Meramec, 16 N. Meramec Ave., 863-7888,

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