Today, I’m going to review Asuka, a Japanese restaurant located at 101 Keybridge Dr #100 in Morrisville, NC. Driving by, Asuka is difficult to miss. Their prominent sign is easy to spot, as is the intriguing and well decorated red and yellow Asuka van parked in the parking lot.
Once inside, I was greeted promptly and chose to sit at the sushi bar. There’s something I really enjoy about watching the chefs. I’m always fascinated with how skilled they are with their hands and the knives and how quickly they can make artful sushi rolls for me and other restaurant patrons to enjoy. This was no exception, and it was clear these chefs knew what they were doing.
As others have said, the restaurant is dimly lit and the ambiance is rather modern. It was renovated some time around 2006, and I have to say that I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Asuka would be a terrific place to bring a significant other or anyone you’d like to share such an atmosphere with.
Not long after I sat down, a waiter came over and asked if I’d like to start with a cold beer. I declined and instead chose a Diet Coke. It was brought to my table not long after and I was not given a straw. I found this odd, but checked other tables and noticed that they did not seem to have a straw for their drink either. This isn’t my preference, but I’m easy to please and don’t like to complain, so I drank my icy soda without a straw.
I ordered the Sumo Roll (soft shell crab, crab salad and cucumber, wrapped with tempura salmon and masago), a Spicy Tuna California and a Philadelphia Roll. I was rather impressed with how quickly my rolls arrived and was thrilled with the presentation. Every time I order sushi, the curiosity of how it will be presented greatly increases my anticipation. As you can see, the presentation is as good as any other restaurant. Beautiful! I thought it unusual that soy sauce was served to me in a dish as opposed to being already on the table. This disappointed me because I could not choose regular or low sodium soy sauce and was left to wonder what I was actually consuming. Again, not one to complain I did not allow it to bother me.
The Sumo Roll was very good, though I’d have preferred it to be spicier. On the menu, there is a “spiciness” scale of 1-5. This roll was said to be “spicy #3,” but I did not find it very spicy at all. In fact, I was left wondering how disappointingly mild a “Spicy #1″ roll would be. Of course, everyone has different tastes and I will just ask for a spicier roll next time.
The difficult-to-mess-up Philadelphia Roll was also very good, and the salmon had a TERRIFIC smoke flavor. This was exactly how I expect a Philadelphia Roll to be, and it was very tasty. Unfortunately, I found the Spicy Tuna California Roll to be very disappointing. Not only was it not very spicy, but the texture of the tuna was rather odd. It was what I would describe as mushy, almost having the texture meat would have after coming out of a meat grinder. I typically see rolls like this include ‘crunch’ bits which helps to offset the texture of the fish / spice mixture. The flavor was okay, but the texture, to me, was very off.
I finish my Diet Coke about halfway through my meal, as I was really loading up on wasabi. I was not asked if I wanted a refill until well after my sushi was finished. This was not acceptable. At least the sushi chef asked how my food was, and smiled pleasantly when I told him that it was great. I finished with my meal at 7:59 PM, and sat for several minutes waiting for my check. Despite the waiter walking right by me, the only patron at the sushi bar, several times and assisting a party of four sitting almost right behind me I was not acknowledged until 8:12. The waiter said “already done?” to me and asked if I wanted more soda. I declined and asked for the check, indicating that I had a Groupon. It was about 4-5 minutes before a different employee validated my Groupon, and then the waiter brought my check another 4-5 minutes after that. I gave my card to the employee who validated the Groupon, and paid my post Groupon bill of $2.85. I DO NOT like to leave bad tips, and generally actually tip more than 20% for good service. This time, however, I gave a tip of 1.15 and wrote “Better service next time, please. Had to wait too long!” It really bothered me to do this, but also really bothered me that it took more than 25 minutes to get my check after I was finished eating.
CONCLUSION: Some of the sushi is very good, though you should request it to be spicier
if that’s your thing. If you are sensitive to sodium and prefer a low-sodium soy sauce, be sure to specify that. The service this night, as well as several others based on several comments on Yelp and Urbanspoon, leaves a lot to be desired.