Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Sushi-lympics

I used to hate sushi, the rice vinegar, the raw fish, I just didn't get the appeal. Then, I went to Japan... In Japan the appeal of sushi suddenly made sense,and my early courtship with sushi began. Back in the States I felt like the sushi didn't match up. The fish wasn't as fresh or sliced as finely. However as of late, with an abundance of sushi restaurants in the Raleigh area, I've sought out the best sushi around. In honor of the Summer Olympics I've tested four local contenders against the criterion of taste, freshness, presentation, roll selection, and service, in an effort to determine the best.

Shiki Sushi (Durham) :
Pros- A massive selection of interesting and inventive rolls.  Delicious, large and filling, and perhaps most importantly...buy one get one free for most of the rolls. Once again, plan on sharing a plate with your dining companion, but if you are with a group you can even order a wooden boat full of rolls, how cool is that!?
Cons- The prices of individual rolls are pretty expensive, if it wasn't buy one get one free it wouldn't be any deal. That being said, watch out, they will charge you for the most expensive rolls ordered by your whole party, and take off the least expensive rolls ordered. So make sure to order rolls that are fairly comparable in price with those of the rest of your group, or try separating checks and orders beforehand and see if that will work for you.

Try the Sear-Sea roll, the Florida roll and the Caribbean roll! Each pictured below.

Mura (North Raleigh) :
Pros- Beautiful presentation of rolls, and good quality yummy tasting sushi served up in a classy modern atmosphere.
Cons- The price makes Mura only possible for a special night out, or when someone else is footing the bill. I suffered through what could have been an insufferable date here at Mura with a guy who argued with me about politics, but the food made it totally worth it. You had better make some advance reservations, because this place is popular. Parking can also be a b*tch.

Sono (Downtown Raleigh):
Pros - Nice presentation, as long as you don't mind sharing your rolls with your date. (This might bother me if I didn't have an even greater desire to try their rolls than to hoard my own.) Pleasant atmosphere and some WONDERFUL service.  (I went on a date here with a guy held up in traffic for 30 minutes so I really spent some quality time with the wait staff.) Free valet parking (of course there really is no such thing as free when you have to tip them, but it can still be cheaper than paying for parking in a lot downtown.)
Cons- Once again the prices are steep.

Sushi Blues (Downtown Raleigh):  
Pros-Some good vegetarian roll selections and the daily buy a roll get a roll free deal can be a great value for your sushi buck.
Cons- The presentation isn't always great, and the quality and flavor isn't as good as elsewhere.

Taking into account the various factors, and that overall I just can't get tuna or salmon as fresh as would be ideal here in Raleigh...my vote is for Shiki Sushi as the go to.  However, don't hesitate to pass up on Mura or Sono for a special occasion.

Shiki Sushi on Urbanspoon Mura at North Hills on Urbanspoon Sono Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon Sushi Blues Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, if you are going to blog about raleigh sushi, you need to try Sushi Thai in Raleigh off Lake Boone Trail (technically off Wycliff rd in the lake boone trail shopping center). While it is in a quite humble shopping center, you will find Sushi Thai to truly be a "gem in the rough," so to speak. Sushi Blues is an embarrassment to the craft of sushi, and I agree with your assessment that their fish never seems fresh enough, and the rolls are generally wrapped poorly, not to mention that their waitstaff can also be dumb as rocks (I overheard one being asked what was in Miso soup and he had to consult the kitchen..wtf?) Mura is also fantastic, but it's expense and pretentiousness is a huge turnoff to me, personally. Sushi Thai Raleigh, however, is consistently AMAZING and the prices are ridiculously good on top of everything else. You never need a reservation, either, unless you are coming with a large group of people. Many evenings, it is not terribly busy and the atmosphere is very nice, and the service is great, although it can occasionally be slow if they are really busy, which I've noticed seems to be totally random, but usually only occurs in huge bursts during the lunch hours. Nights are usually consistently fairly quiet, and the layout also helps keeps noise down as it is divided into several sections, as well as the all-important bar seating at any sushi restaurant where you can watch them prepping all the rolls. While they offer BOGO rolls every day, each day of the week also offers a unique special such as half-price wines or 50% off Saki, et. cetera. To-go orders are in fully recyclable containers, and in-restaurant presentation is gorgeous. I promise I don't work at ST, but they rock my socks so much, I have to recommend them and I will certainly have to try Shiki Sushi the next time I am in Durham and able to do so!!

    I've enjoyed reading your blog entries so far! Keep it up! =)