Azuki Sushi is all rolled upRestaurant Review Thursday, July 21st, 2011
RESTAURANT REVIEW: I have always been a fan of ethnic restaurants of all kinds. Whether it is Indian, Thai, Japanese, I am fascinated by the cuisine. Here in San Diego, we do have our fair share scattered around our neighborhoods and some are so authentic you feel you have been transported into that country.
In the interesting times we are living in with our shaky economy, most restaurants have recognized the need to be simpler with menus and price points. The genre of sushi has been one of the hardest hit and even harder to change. Fish is caught and flown all over the world for the cuisine and prices have not dropped but in fact have gotten higher.
So when I see a sushi restaurant doing it right, I must applaud them. Azuki Sushi is a place that has bent the rules and gone with the ups and downs of the economic flow in an interesting manner. Some of your favorite classics are switched up using different ingredients. Through all this, a new manner of sushi has been defined.
Nestled on Fifth Avenue in Bankers Hill, Azuki Sushi is the place to go. There has always been a huge debate in town as to who offers the best and at the right price. After weeks of eating my way through countless sushi restaurants in town, my vote is for Azuki.
This cute little restaurant has a deceiving look to it. As you walk through the incredible large and very cool metal door you enter into a classic sushi bar with several chefs working away furiously. A few tables are scattered on the wall, leaving you to think that the place can only seat 20 people. But the surprise gem to this place is the back patio. It is such a great space surrounded with wood plank walls, it reminds me of a little spot in New York.
The menu is classically laid out in Japanese style. Sections are offered in sushi and sashimi, tempura, classic rolls to name just a few. Signature bites are a unique way to start your evening. The Spicy Albacore Tataki ($12) is a beautifully seared albacore with garlic chips and ponzu. The Tofu Three Ways ($8) is served chilled with black sesame, moromi miso and nikiri sweet soy sauce.
This is the place for sashimi and sushi and you have your choice in both styles. The list is extraordinary and the best in the city. The Hon Maguro (Blue Fin Tuna) ($15) just melts in your mouth. One of the best pieces of fish I have ever tasted. Branch out and try the Kanpachi (amberjack) ($16) or the Aji ($16) (Spanish mackerel). The list goes on and on with the fresh fish.
The specialty rolls are what make Azuki the leader in town. Creatively put together, they are the true stand out on the menu. The Sunshine Roll ($15) is rolled with a rock shrimp mix, hamachi, and tempura green onion. It is then topped with salmon, avocado and citrus ponzu which just brings an outrageous explosion of flavor.
The Vertigo ($12) of hamachi, crab, micro shiso, avocado, gobo, is all wrapped in cucumber and dressed with citrus ponzu. The avocado really puts an interesting spin and adds such a nice creaminess. If you want to be over the top, try the R U Kidding Me? ($17). Diver scallops, crab, tempura asparagus are all rolled together and then topped with seared tuna and white truffle oil. It is then served around mixed greens in ponzu, crowned with flash fried chives. This is not for the faint of heart.
Although they are all good and different, my favorite must be the Bonsai ($12). Shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, asparagus with white truffle and sweet poki sauce, is garnished with crunchy lotus roots and sweet potato. I’m not one that really likes anything sweet, but the white truffle and sweet poki sauce really is a marriage made in heaven.
I often get asked what the best drink of choice is to have with sushi. The debate goes on and on about sake, wine or beer. If you have never had sake before this is a good place to experiment. All the selections come with a flavor profile description which I think is very helpful when ordering. Even their wine list is decent with light and fruity wines to choose as a bottle or glass.
As the battle continues for the best sushi in town, I see Azuki arising as the main contender. Sushi is one of the hardest items to serve in a restaurant as nothing is worse than stale fish. Azuki has proven that you can still get the freshest fish from all over the world and offer it to us in a valuable way.
2321 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
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