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These days, we no longer count candles but instead just enjoy the company of friends, such as this surprise birthday meal at Azuki Sushi in Banker's Hill. Since the restaurant was farther from University Ave, the parking was easy (across the street) on this early weekend dinner. Most of us arrived before the guest of honor.
You can watch the sushi chefs at work if you sit at the bar! Dennis had been here once before but didn’t know about the upstairs enclosed patio area until we were seated there! He thought it had better ambiance and mood lighting verses the brighter front area.
At our table, we were given these huge portions of ginger and wasabi in preparation for the approaching gastronomy.
Snow Crab Fried Rice 8.95 snow crab leg +egg + truffle oil; Sautéed Scallops 13.00 Hokkaido diver scallops + asparagus
NOTE: Menu prices increased since our visit in September 2016
One of our friends was starving so ordered appetizers to start. This fried rice bowl had plenty of crabby bits in a lightly flavored stir-fried base. It was easy to share with the table as we waited for the birthday boy. Friend also had scallops in a buttery sauce, well seasoned but slightly overcooked.
Dennis, always the drinker, ordered a specialty cocktail made with sake while another person ordered a flight of sakes. I like the way the sake cups leaned in alternating directions! Sakes don't really make for pretty pictures but they sure do taste smooth!
Hamachi Kama (12.00) - grilled yellowtail collar + ponzu
This hamachi kama was the most appetizing version I'd seen lately! Scooping out bites of tender juicy fish beneath the slightly charred skin kept us occupied for a few minutes. We enjoyed the natural flavors of the yellowtail fish collar and only dabbled a few times in the dipping sauce.
Kobe (19.5) - spicy snow crab, black tiger prawn, tempura onion, topped with seared wagyu beef, truffle aioli, poki sauce
Wagyu is fancy beef in my mind (find the real details in wikipedia)! At least the enjoyment of the soft meat melting in our mouths kept my ever calculating mind off the price! The mellow flavored meat was soft in your mouth at first, then you hit that sweet tango of crunchy contrast in the middle of the roll. The last time we had kobe was in roll form at Roy's La Jolla, which was also very good.
Salmon and Shiitake Risotto (18.50) - grilled salmon + Japanese style creamy shiitake risotto
When this arrived, I realized we ordered mostly cooked items for this visit! The salmon was well cooked with a flakey moist inside and a slightly fried edge. Dennis also noticed that the risotto started out very buttery yet the more he ate, the less buttery it became. It didn't overwhelm, which worked for him!
R U Kidding Me? 19.5 - snow crab, diver scallops, tempura asparagus, topped with seared tuna, white truffle oil, mixed greens, garlic ponzu, flash fried leeks
Yes, it really is called "R U Kidding Me?" ... Friend ordered this huge crazy roll which seemed to be 80% fried leek! Finding the sushi was like looking for buried treasure.. where’s the roll! I didn't try it because I didn't want to intrude on friend's dinner.
Honeymoon Oyster 11.00 - today’s oyster + uni + ikura + quail egg + tobiko + ponzu
These oyster shooters were gorgeous, presented over ice in a rectangular wood box. Birthday boy and wife and friend took their bites at the same time! Delicious I heard, but at the price of $11, it was a ‘mighty fancy’ single bite.
Chirashi 25.00 - includes tuna + salmon + yellowtail over sushi rice
Birthday boy got the chirashi bowl with thick cuts of fish which looked amazing. This decent sized bowl was packed to the brim with food. He’s a big eater and this filled him just enough.
Here are the rest of the food items ordered, which we didn't try.
Shiitake Roll 14 - sautéed shiitake, avocado, asparagus topped with zucchini, shiitake bacon, sweet black miso
Braised Short Ribs 18.50 - Japanese inspired braised short ribs + sautéed seasonal vegetables
Salmon sushi $?
After dinner, the oyster shooter were proclaimed to be the best item but the rolls were just as enjoyable. I also really wanted that chirashi bowl after seeing it! Service seemed casual and friendly, making this whole visit a pleasant experience for our larger party. Azuki Sushi will also be participating in San Diego Restaurant Week so put them on your list to try!
2321 Fifth Ave
San Diego CA 92101