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Triangle: Cuzcutleco Catastrophe/Akai Hana

David A. | Feb 5, 200309:53 PM

The wife and I stopped in at El Cuzcutleco on Garrett Road in Durham this week and had one of our worst NC dining experiences yet. We were met by two blaring TVs perched over the smallish dining area (why do restaurants do this -- doesn't anyone care to talk anymore?) and a three-man mariachi ensemble, all of which would have given me a headache within five minutes if I were prone to such things. I had a standard Mexican-style combination platter which was bland at best (though cheap), while my wife had a large bowl of seafood and lobster soup. When she broke into the lobster a strange smell wafted from its innards; the claws were filled with putrescent black flesh. She gagged; we called for our check and literally rushed for the door. I regret now -- very much regret -- that I did not send this $12 entree back to the kitchen. We were too revolted to bother. We will not be paying a second visit.

On the other hand, we recently had cheap, plentiful, and nicely presented meal at Akai Hana in Carrboro. Akai Hana is no Nobu, but it's certainly worth having in the neighborhood. It will be very welcome on those nights when work runs late and there's nothing at home in the fridge. I recommend it as a trusty local standby.

The thread from a week or two ago was really on target: Carrboro does offer an unusual concentration of decent restaurants, though I am not a fan of Carrburritos, and my wife (who's been with colleagues) reports bads things about the renowned Acme.

David A.

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