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Japanese food in the Triangle


sk_ward
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Hi everyone. Out here visiting the area for a couple of months and based on a recommendation, went to Sushi Blues on Glenwood. The atmosphere was fun and hip, but the food was pretty sad. :sad: My rice was hard, the sushi rice wasn't even vinegared, and the sashimi wasn't very fresh. I am sure that there is better sushi/Japanese food to be had in this area. Looking over other threads, Fin looks like a great prospect. Also Asuka in Morrisville. Anything else?

Also, along the same lines, I am trying to find a Japanese market. I've been to the super Asian grocery stores, but they carry mostly Chinese products. I'm hoping that there's one hiding in some strip mall somewhere out there...

Thanks in advance!!

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I can't help you with the shopping, as the large Asian stores are where I go, but if there was a consensus regarding best sushi restaurant in Raleigh, it's arguably Waraji on Duraleigh, close to Glenwood. Phone is (919) 783-1883.

Fins is not really an Asian restaurant, but it's one of the top two or three establishments in the Triangle. It's really more of a French restaurant that incorporates a lot of different Asian ingredients into its cuisine. Click here for a description of a meal I had at Fins several months ago.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I also have heard good things about Waraji. You might consider trying that.

Also, in Brightleaf Square in Durham, there's a new sushi-centered, pan-Asian restaurant, Mt. Fuji. As the name suggests, it's pretty terrible. I'm working on a full write up of it that will be coming out this week.

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Waraji is good for sushi, although I thought their soups and noodle bowls were a little salty. My husband and I often go to Kashin in Crossroads in Cary - it's close to our house and always a lot of Asian families eating there. Very small place. Good noodles on the menu, too.

Speaking of Japanese, I was in San Francisco last month and went to a Japanese restaurant in, of all places, North Beach. The sushi was good, but what really knocked me out was the appetizer: tiny, little orange crabs, about the size of a nickel, deep fried whole. You just munched them like crunchy, crab-flavored popcorn. The chef said they were fresh-water crabs of some kind. Ever seen these around here? Yum!

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I'd have to mention Shiki Sushi in Durham on 54. My wife and I enjoy sushi (and I have to say that I do like Sushi Blues, but all i ever get is the Wolfpack Roll and the Spicy Octopus appetizer - Some restaurants I just get into a pleasant rut in), but we live near the center of Durham. I don't look forward to the 1/2 hour drive to any decent Sushi, but Shiki is only like 15 minutes away. They have other stuff (I have yet to try their donkatsu, but I'm hoping someone in NC wizes up and opens a fried pork cutlet restaurant. Can't miss), but the sushi is pretty good. At least my favorite in a 10 mile radius around Durham.

The SO just walked in and sez she likes Oishi in Chapel Hill somewhere. We ate there once. I think she just liked the sushi boat. And maybe the saki. She's off the raw and he saki for a while any ways... So her vote don't count.

Bryan - Damn. I had hopes (amidtedly not high ones) for the place in Brightleaf. I fear the same will be true for the place in the American Tobacco dealie. But thanks for the Nana's review - We're headed there tomorrow night for SO's b-day.

~Nibbs

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Enjoy Nana's, it's about as good as it gets in the immediate area.

I have a particular interest in the American Tobacco Plaza (or whatever it's called), as Duke owns a significant amount of the land in/near that venture and is supposedly involved in recuriting businesses and restaurants to fill the commercial space. I had no idea another Jap. place was opening up there. Does anyone have any other info?

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A short take on Mt. Fuji Asian Bistro in the Brightleaf Square. I felt as though I really had to sacrifice my own beliefs and standards when writing this. To be honest, this place blows. But then again, I've travelled to Japan many, many times and have stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto's best ryokans, eaten at top restaurants, etc. This place even sucks across the board on NYC sushi standards (and I'm not even remotely talking about the the big names like Yasuda). But the lack of good sushi in this area is an entirely different thread.

Electronic version: http://www.chronicle.duke.edu/vnews/displa...7/4360c318db907

Brightleaf Square in downtown Durham has long provided a culinary world tour, from El Rodeo’s Tex-Mex favorites to Chamas’s all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat extravaganza to Nikos’ traditional Greek offerings. Now, with the recent opening of Mt. Fuji Asian Bistro, Brightleaf Square provides its visitors with a passport to the Orient.

Mt. Fuji’s large menu encompasses new takes on the most popular dishes from Japan, Thailand and China. The restaurant’s exposed brick walls, stylish sushi bar and flat screen televisions provide a chic setting for the east-meets-west cuisine.

Much of the inspiration and spice that went into Mt. Fuji’s design, however, seems to be lost in the actual preparation of the food. A seared garlic calamari appetizer was tepid and much too chewy. Squid should be served either pleasantly crisp when cooked or slightly firm when raw; this was like eating rubber marinated in garlic.

Similar trends continued throughout the meal. A traditional fried tofu appetizer, agedashi, used quality tofu but was poorly prepared. Two Thai dishes, both known for their strong, spicyflavors, were dull and unmemorable.

The raw seafood items from the showpiece sushi bar (see below) were perhaps the restaurant’s only saving grace.

Throughout the course of the meal, dishes were brought out at random and illogical times. One entree was delivered as an appetizer, and another dish was forgotten numerous times by the waitstaff and only arrived after most of the other food had been consumed. The item was removed from the final bill, making it the only dish that was worth its price.

Mt. Fuji will undoubtedly attract customers with its convenient location and attractive setting, but it will not flourish unless it improves the quality and impact of its food.

Mt. Fuji Asian Bistro

Brightleaf Square

Durham, NC

Prices: Appetizers - $4-9; Mains - $11-15

Perks: Chic design, specialty drinks, extensive sake selection

Picks: Pad See Ew Thai noodles, Mongolian Beef, sushi

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My wife and I tried Mt. Fuji after CenterFest a few weeks ago. After two long days of working her jewelry booth at the Festival we were looking for some good sushi to take home and enjoy in front of the television. We ordered ann array of nigiri and a few of their specialty rolls; while it was being prepared I had a chance to talk to the sushi chefs. The nigiri was definitely passable, good quality fish on good enough rice. I'm a nigiri kind of guy. I like tasty, fresh fish, simply prepared. My wife prefers rolls. She was definitely displeased. Let me interject here that we are both well aware that the american style rolls are not authentic, but every now and then a little variety is good. The biggest problem with the rolls at Mt. Fuji was that every one of their specialty rolls came with "special spicy sauce," which is some combination of wasabi, red pepper, a few other ingrediants, and mayonaise. My wife doesn't like mayonaise and I'm not a big fan of it wish sushi. So combine a bunch maynoise with a bunch of fish, arrive at a bunch of heavy, greasy rolls, and you get one unhappy wife. I'll order the nigiri again, but rolls are definitely off the menu.

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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I checked out Waraji last weekend and had a great time! I sat at the sushi bar, so I didn't try any of the entrees. But with all of the sushi that I ate, I didn't have any room for an actual entree anyway. I was surprised to see that they didn't have any daily fish specials, offering what's in season, because it seems as though they certainly have the customer base to support offering something like that. What they offer now is pretty standard sushi fare, nothing exciting, but high quality. It would have been fun to think that I might be able to try something new on a repeat visit. Another thing that I found a little odd is that aside from ordering the sashimi platter, there is no option to order sashimi a la carte from the sushi bar. It's either rolls or nigiri. That wasn't a big deal, though. They have an extensive list of all of the crazy cream cheese, inside out, California/Bonzai/Spider/whatever rolls you could imagine, but I stuck with the more straight forward stuff. I ordered a couple of appetizers, the suimono soup (clear fish/seaweed broth with crab, seaweed, and a slice of fish cake) and the maguro yamakake (ground yam on top of tuna sashimi). The suimono was light and delicate, a perfect start to the sushi. I was actually pretty surprised to see the maguro yamakake on the menu as many people probably have a tough time getting beyond the texture that has a striking resemblance to snot! But with an open mind and a bit of soy sauce, it's pretty tasty! It is a very strange concept to me that such a tasty restaurant can be found smack in the middle of a non-descript strip mall, but I guess that I'm just not used to having 90%+ of local businesses being in strip malls.

To answer my own question, I asked the friendly sushi chef if he knew of any Japanese grocery stores around here and he told me of this place:

ToyoSyokuhin & Gifts

748-L East Chatham St.

Cary, 27511

(919) 319-1620

I was very pleased with the selection available. Many of the things available fresh in stores with higher turnover in places like CA or NYC are available here frozen. They have all of the basics that I could have ever thought of and also a decent sake and Japanese beer selection. There is a limited produce selection and no fresh meats. However, they do have frozen fish and frozen thinly sliced meats, if you ever think you might make some sukiyaki or shabu-shabu. Also, if you speak the language and need your fill of Japanese Dramas, they have them available for rental! For everyone who ever wondered where they could get five types of miso, several types of Japanese pickles, or several different flavors of Pocky, this is it! :biggrin:

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  • 5 months later...

I recently wrote about two of the Triangle's most established Japanese restaurants, Yamazushi and Waraji. Yamazushi was nothing special at all. Waraji wasn't bad, but really pales in comparison to proper sushi in other areas. With that said, Waraji has been my best experience in the area.

Reviews in the Chronicle are here

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For my family, sushi is take out food. We have found the sushi at Sushi Thai in Raleigh to be a very good value. They have dollar sushi. Rolls and nigiri. Also dolalr tempura which the kids like. The fish is fresh and the pieces are well presented. I also enjoyerd the masaman curry from the thai side of the menu.

My wife and I are going to try Waraji again in the future.

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I'm an admitted sushi snob, and the only decent "dollar sushi" I've had is in Japan. I can only speak for Durham, but the sushi in the area is pretty much a total let down. I've yet to have anything that even barely surpasses edible.

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For my family, sushi is take out food.  We have found the sushi at Sushi Thai in Raleigh to be a very good value.  They have dollar sushi.  Rolls and nigiri.  Also dolalr tempura which the kids like.  The fish is fresh and the pieces are well presented.  I also enjoyerd the masaman curry from the thai side of the menu. 

My wife and I are going to try Waraji again in the future.

Does the dollar sushi at Sushi Thai work for take-out? I thought it was a dine-in option only. Seeing the Raleigh branch of Sushi Thai is one block from my office, this means I could have another take-out option available!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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For my family, sushi is take out food.  We have found the sushi at Sushi Thai in Raleigh to be a very good value.  They have dollar sushi.  Rolls and nigiri.  Also dolalr tempura which the kids like.  The fish is fresh and the pieces are well presented.  I also enjoyerd the masaman curry from the thai side of the menu. 

My wife and I are going to try Waraji again in the future.

Does the dollar sushi at Sushi Thai work for take-out?

Yes, it does work for take out. You have to ask for the dollar menu. I have never actually eaten at Sushi Thai - only take out.

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