Restaurants & Bars

Asuka - Morrisville, NC


Restaurants & Bars 9

Asuka - Morrisville, NC

klmonline | Mar 5, 2007 06:50 AM

We went to Asuka for dinner on Friday night. I like sushi and my SO likes bento boxes with the typical teriyaki and tempura mix. Asuka provided both.

The bento box was very large with more food than she could eat. The teriyaki beef was cooked rare on the inside, seared gray on the outside and cut in traditional strips. She said it was reasonably good, but not as tasty as what she had at Waraji. The vegetable tempura was a very large portion, with big pieces of veggies. There was a calamari salad some shrimp, and orange wedges artfully cut for dessert. It was a very attractive display, which won her approval. They do not automatically include a salad or miso soup with a bento as some places do. The price was about $18 for the bento. Caution: If you order a garden salad to start, you get a very large plate easily enough to work as a starter for two. Miso soup was cloudy with lots of miso and big sheets of seaweed. I thought it was both a little too salty and a bit too cool. She's usually a big miso soup fan and wasn't thrilled with this version.

I had several pieces of nigiri sushi and a house special "Asuka roll". The fish was cut in fairly thick slabs and was tender, flavorful, and seemed very fresh. No nasty smells or gummy/mealy textures. I thought the rice was a touch firm and chewy. Orders tend to be around $5 or $6 for two pieces. The unagi was a disappointment, as it was thin and didn't have the melt-in-your-mouth property of the amazing pieces I had at Waraji.

The waiter was pushing fresh wasabi as an accompaniment. You automatically get the standard green marzipan consistency paste on your tray, but you can order finely chopped real wasabi root, which I had never seen. This has a much more forward bite and is a lot like eating freshly grated horseradish root (no surprise). It costs $4 (which the waiter doesn't mention!). It's an interesting and unusual option.

The asuka roll didn't sit well with me. It is a combination of three or four different fishes along with crab, rolled in rice, masago, seaweed, and a thin cucumber skin outer layer. I thought the different fish tastes didn't mesh and created the oral equivalent of mixing too many paint colors together. It just comes out gray. It cost $11 or $12.

The menu includes quite a few sushi and sashimi combination plates that get expensive quickly.

The restaurant has a pretty good sake list and we shared a very nice Ozeki Karatamba that straddled the line between dry and fruity in a compromise that we could both enjoy.

The interior ambience is trendy upscale with muted lighting, earth tones, and well spaced tables. There is a bar area with a TV, separated from the main dining area by a half wall. If things were to get rowdy over there, you would hear it while eating. There is also a small sushi bar in front of the chefs. On our Friday night at 6:30, the restaurant was mostly empty, with perhaps four other parties dining.

The waiter was solicitous almost to the point of intrusiveness, but exceedingly polite and interested in our "welfare". He made suggestions and responded quickly to a raised eyebrow for a second order, etc. There is no American silverware on the table, but they are happy to bring it on a moment's notice. The plateware is varied earthenware and attractive.

I found the overall quality to be just a touch below Waraji and the prices to be a touch above. The restaurant features a fancy interactive website at - The online version gives you a good sampling of items and prices, but the in-house menu has additional items not shown on the web.

It is located on Chapel Hill Road between Aviation Parkway and Weston Parkway.

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