Sadly, I have been a little disappointed with the quality of my sushi place lately, so hubby and I are on the quest for our new (close) sushi joint. I had been to Asaka years ago, and had been recently told by two people in two totally different circles that they really liked Asaka, so we thought we would give it another go. Plus, the only female sushi chef in town, which is pretty cool.
First of all, miracle of miracle, it’s in Castleton, which is notoriously awful for restaurants (although it is certainly getting better). It’s right next to Hooter’s in fact, if that demonstrates my point. It’s a cute little place inside—it has more charm and atmosphere than many, and even some little private rooms in the back where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor.
And here’s something some of you will really like—they do a “happy hour” everyday between 5:00-7:00 where they offer certain items at a reduced rate. I have included the happy hour menu with pricing so you can see what I mean. This post is about two different visits—the first time we weren’t there during happy hour and the second time we were.
The nigiri is actually my favorite thing here, although I have enjoyed some of the rolls as well. They give you a really long, thin cut of the fish on the rice with the nigiri, and the fish is very good quality. Several of our favorite items (the tuna, the yellow tail and the salmon) were offered on the happy hour menu, so we got several pieces both times. I will say, for some reason during the happy hour visit, the fish was really, really cold, which was a tiny bit off putting to me. I’m not sure if this had something to do with the happy hour angle, but I just let it come to temp a little before eating it.
We tried several rolls on both occasions. On the happy hour menu, we tried the special roll ($5), which on this day was spicy tuna with a layer of yellow tail and some scallions. It was good, and a great deal, but had a little bigger pieces than I like. The other time we went, we had the Hoosier roll ($5.50), which was spicy tuna and avocado. It was a good basic roll. I like that their spicy tuna is nice pieces of recognizable tuna (this was true for the special happy hour roll as well). There were several other rolls as well—not sure of their exact names, but one had spicy salmon and spicy salmon on top, one was basically a shrimp tempura roll and the other was a spicy roll with jalapeno, salmon and avocado with some spicy mayo and eel sauce. They were all pretty tasty, although this is one place where I think I like the nigiri better; it was just so silky and high quality. The menu here features A LOT of rolls with cream cheese, which is not my favorite thing in a roll.
Both times we also had the shrimp shumai ($4.95)(these prices may be a little off, because the online menu doesn’t seem to be totally up to date) and the soft shell crab appetizer ($7.95). The first time we really enjoyed the soft shell crab, it was crunchy and delicious. The second time it was mostly batter and not a lot of the crab. Somewhat disappointing. The shumai were good both times though—I love a good dumpling. Our friend on our first visit just ordered a sashimi dinner and it was beautiful (it came with a bowl of rice).
The second visit (the happy hour visit), we were with the kids. My son got chicken katsu and really enjoyed it. I liked that it wasn’t just white meat and had some flavor. He inhaled it. My daughter got the shio ramen, and while it wasn’t the best I’ve had, it was certainly decent. We all ate some of it, and she seemed to really enjoy it. Again, the online menu doesn’t even show these particular items, so I am not sure of the exact prices. And in general, they have a lot of non-sushi items on the menu, so just about everyone can find something they will like.
Since it seems like I am basically going in reverse order of the pacing of the food, let me tell you about the salad they bring with each entrée. The ginger salad dressing on is super gingery and doesn’t have any creaminess to it. I could pretty much eat that stuff by itself. Just ginger and acid. It’s delicious.
Anyway, it’s a good place and will likely be a regular stop for us in the future, although I will lean more toward sashimi and nigiri here. There are some other rolls I would like to try as well. And there are a lot of appetizers that sound good. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you like here as well as other favorite sushi joints on the northeast side-ish.
Oh—and a super helpful tip, particularly for happy hour—they do take reservations, although not many make them. You can walk right past all the people waiting and be seated if you plan ahead a little.
6414 East 82nd Street