Thirty minutes after we arrived in San Diego from our Las Vegas road trip, my best friend, Donna, and her hubby picked me and our other bestie, Shells, up for my birthday celebration dinner. They asked me if I wanted to know where they were taking me, but for once, I welcomed the surprise and did not prepare what I was going to order by browsing the online menu. I was living on the edge. Ha!
We ended up in Bankers Hill trying and found a parking spot near 5th and Juniper. They were taking me to a little Japanese restaurant named Azuki Sushi, which is located right in between a large apartment building and a bail bond place.
We entered Azuki and were greeted with the traditional "irrashaimase" ("welcome") from the sushi chefs. I love that. Azuki's indoor dining area is small as there were a few tables to the left and the sushi bar to the right.
We chit chatted and we briefly browsed the menu of specialty rolls, hot dishes, and sashimi. After toasting my birthday with sake, we ordered a number of dishes to share:
- age-dashi tofu
- ahi poki
- grilled salmon w/ shiitake risotto
- miso black cod
- 5th & juniper roll
- stardust roll
- shrimp tempura roll
Shells absolutely loves ahi poki so we had to order it. The tuna sashimi, which is my favorite sashimi of all, was deliciously fresh and the touch of sesame oil to the fish was a great addition to the dish. I'm not that into the seaweed salad so I left it all for Shells, who can eat a whole bowl of it all by herself.
THIS was my absolutely favorite dish of the evening, the grilled salmon with shiitake mushroom risotto. Who knew that a sushi bar serves such a comforting, flavorful entree. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the risotto was rich & creamy. This dish would be perfect during a cold, rainy night. I enjoyed every bite... and I'm actually craving it right now!
The presentation of the miso black cod was beautiful as it was topped with saffron and julienne cut carrots. The cod had a definite sweetness to the taste. The edges of the fish were lightly charred. Yum, I loved the taste of that char from the caramelization from the sweet reduction.
This is the "Fifth and Juniper" roll that is a specialty roll with simple flavors like imitation crab, shrimp tempura, topped with spicy tuna and a sweet & spicy sauce. The addition of the chopped scallion added a great light onion flavor.
The first roll pictured above is the traditional shrimp tempura roll. When I ordered it, I didn't realize that the "Fifth and Juniper" roll had tempura in it at the time. Oh well, could have had different flavors. It was delicious, though!
The second roll, though, the "Stardust" was different and AWESOME. Who would have thought of eating thinly sliced lemon, including the rind? I thought the lemon was just a garnish, but it is meant to eat all together. It was mighty delicious. This roll has spicy albacore, imitation crab, and avocado inside and on the outside is topped with seared hamachi, thinly sliced lemon, and scallions.
To end the evening, the dessert sampler had four delectable desserts, including one with a single birthday candle:
- azuki stuffed banana
- green tea creme brulee
- acai cheesecake
- black sesame panna cotta