29 August, 2011
AkashiComments : 3 Posted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
2223 NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, Durham
Deluxe Sushi Rolls: $6–$11 (and 50% off)
Akashi is a cute Japanese restaurant in the black , yellow, and red complex on Highway 54 right before entering RTP. They are one of five restaurants focusing on sushi in South Durham; I guess we like our fish down here? Nearly all of them have some sort of gimmick to get in more business. Akashi’s strategy is that sushi rolls are 50% off at all times, which makes for quite affordable fare! But it also begs the question of why they don’t just halve the prices. I suppose that’s marketing for you.
In pricing, they do have about 5 or 6 changing specialty rolls on the front of the sushi menu whose listed prices are what you will be charged for them. But for the rest of the sushi, the prices are half of what’s listed in the menu.
For decor, Akashi has jungle green walls with wood accents and cozy black booths and tables. There are a few paintings of Japanese vistas. The sushi bar is separated from the main dining room. I’d call it an inviting spot.
Sushi is definitely Akashi’s main focus, but they also have a separate menu that offers teriyaki or hibachi meals, pho, udon, and bento boxes. The appetizer list is surprisingly long and covers items from tempura to baked mussels to yakitori. I ordered the steamed shrimp shumai. They are available fried, too.
They were super good: plenty of shrimp chopped up and stuffed inside the nicely steamed dumplings. The thin, lively dipping sauce was especially delicious.
Of course, we had plenty of sushi.
The sushi chefs apparently had fun setting up the plate, making an aurora roll (California roll with tempura flakes, hot sesame oil, spicy sauce, white tuna, and scallion) loop its way around the spicy scallop roll and arranging the Romeo roll (spicy tuna roll with tempura flakes, cilantro, and avocado) like a pinwheel of teardrop-shaped pieces. Points for presentation!
I’d call their sushi rolls more restrained versions of what super-stuffed deluxe sushi rolls usually are, which is a good thing. I like being able to fit a whole piece in my mouth! The Romeo roll definitely stood out—it’s amazing how adding cilantro to the roll can enliven it. The spicy scallop was also quite tasty. We also had spicy scallop nigiri and the diablo roll (snow crab, hot sesame oil, spicy mayo, shrimp tempura).
My friend has a ritual for when she eats at Akashi. She tests her limits with a single order of wasabi tobiko nigiri, which is the green one in the picture. No tears shed this trip, but it was close.
I’m not a sashimi expert by any means, so if anyone can share on the quality of their sashimi, please do! Overall, I was happy with the value and the uniqueness of their presentation.
Reviewed 23 August 11.