Saturday, February 20, 2010

Azia - Minneapolis

My everlasting sushi quest resumed, when Mr. H decided to take me on a surprise sushi date! It had been a month or more since I had any and frankly...I needed my fix. We narrowed it down to 3 places - Midori's Floating World Cafe, Fuji-Ya, or Azia. Mr. H surprised me with Azia, and off we went to our 9 PM reservations!

Walking past Azia on the street, you first see the sushi bar area. I instinctually wanted to go in. But we instead went to the main dining area, 10 minutes early for our reservations.
Azia is a beautiful space, if quite trendy. Beautiful people, beautiful windows, and large, dark space. Really dark. Admittedly, I have bad night vision. But it was REALLY dark in there. Low lighting is always good. but I guess I prefer extreme darkness in bars. Personal preference. We were seated at a booth, which I also didn't like. The table almost came up to my boobs. I contemplated using it as a shelf in a momentary fit of silliness. I didn't. Anyways, We sat and perused the menu.

The drink menu has a good selection of wines (starting at $9 a glass), beers ($6 and up) sakes ($12 and up), signature cocktails/martini's ($9 and up) and scotches. I ordered a $10 mojito, which was fantastic, but I was chewing half of it (looots of basil and mint.) Mr. H got his usual brandy coke. We were starving, so we ordered some Fresh Herb Rolls (Oceanside spring roll with dynamic herbs, halved shrimp, and shredded chicken) for our appetizer. Reviewing the menu further, we were decidedly confused. It seemed to be mostly entree's and sushi. We thought they had small plates, and that their sushi was a bit less expensive according to their website. Instead, they had appetizers, and entree's ranging from curry to noodles, all $15 and up. In hindsight, I kind of wish we would have sat in the sushi bar, which I'm sure is where all those good things were located.

I'm still a sushi beginner, and wanted to try something different. Our waiter was very helpful and informative. He also suggested the most expensive things on the menu (omakase, specialty roll with lobster.) A tip for servers; I know you want to make money, and many people don't mind getting the expensive things on the menu. But some people would like to hear a variety of options, and not feel like they are buying a car.

Usually, we like to get some nigiri and a specialty roll. I was interested in trying the mackarel or sea urchin nigiri, but the waiter advised they were both texturally challenging. We decided take small steps into the world of sushi things. For my nigiri, I chose the Anago ($6 -it is a saltwater eel, as opposed to Unagi, which is freshwater) and the Big White Tuna (also $6) Mr. H ordered the Sea Bass. For our specialty roll, we ordered the Shockamoto roll (tuna, salmon, whitefish, cucumber, asparagus & radish with masago aioli and masago garnish....I HEART masago by the way.)

Our Herb Rolls came, and were pretty mediocore. I am a tough spring roll crowd. The wrapping was too gummy (i know that spring roll wrapping IS gummy - but when it becomes chewy and tough - it's wrong) and the ratio of lettuce/veggie fillings to meat was around 80/20. The peanut sauce was standard.

Our sushi came out very fast. It was too dark to get any good pics, unfortuantely. These are some of the largest pieces of nigiri I've ever seen. I didn't care for the tuna nigiri, but I can't articulate why yet. I don't think I care for tuna sushi, it usually seems too bland, or even slightly sour. But the Anago was divine! Imagine Unagi supreme. Similar in appearance, except the Anago was kind of "rolled" on top of the rice. A little more salty than Unagi, and double-y lush and sweet and velvet. Eel in general has a distinct, slight "fresh" taste to it, and this was no exception. I loved it. I wish I could report on the sea bass, but since I burned my tongue with too much wasabi, I couldn't taste it! Good one, Vita.

The Shockamoto came out, and was a lovely roll. Mr. H got his first try of masago, and liked it. The roll pieces were much larger than anywhere I've been. Azia definitely gives you your money's worth. This roll was a big bang of FISH. Nice chunks of salmon, and surrounding whitefish and tuna and providing a total fish meltdown in your mouth. Not to say it tasted "fishy" - it actually tasted nice and fresh. But man there was a lot of fish! The cucumber came through well, but I wasn't getting much asparagus flavor. The masago aioli was a bit spicy, and overall it was a good roll, if a bit too fish heavy for me. In the future, 1 or 2 fish in my specialty roll will suffice.

After dinner, we decided to explore Azia more (I was so full I could barely move - funny how little innocent pieces of sushi creep up on you like that!) and went into the party room area. It holds a party room, and has a booth designed as a BOAT. It was dark and red, and had a lovely fountain. There was a lot more ambience, and I especially like the bathrooms (in the same room, but divided between mens and womens by doors.) The Caterpillar Lounge was nice, but I could have been at any trendy bar downtown. The happy hour is nothing big - $7 on signature cocktails, half price bottles of wine, and $3 taps. After $8 kamikaze's, we split.

Looking over my last few reviews, I've learned a few things about myself. A) my palette is either becoming more refined, or less refined. B) I really have a hard time spending more than $12 on an entree unless I am fairly certain it will be kickass. Likewise with cocktails. I like to have a few, and cant drop $50 on like 3 drinks. C) I'm a cheapskate. D) I'm not convinced I'm giving fair reviews, since I can seldom afford to visit places more than once, to try a variety of things. Next time - Midori's.

-Anago nigiri
-Very informative waiter
-Sushi bar (must go!)
-Mojito was the best one I've had

Not so greats
-Shockamoto fish overload (not Azia's fault. personal preference only.)
-Herb Rolls
-the booth
-The fact we probably went to the wrong place for cheap small plates
-Happy Hour kind of sucks

Azia on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Very nice review baby! I wish I could write as well as you do.