Ajisai Sushi – Americanized Sushi at its Best

I am one of those people who loves sushi. But hold on a second…I loved it BEFORE it was trendy. 
I mean…was it really trendy in 1991? Cause that is how long I have loved sushi. So when I go out for a sushi dinner, it had better be good. 
Oh yeah…and I love authentic sushi…Sushi Yasuda is one of my top 3 restaurants in NYC…but I also love fusion rolls.
This is the “Fritos” part of the blog.
Ajisai is a small restaurant near my home that is very casual. 
The inside is totally strip mall chic, but I look past that because the food is fresh, the service is efficient and the prices are really reasonable.
They also remember not to put tobiko (fish roe) in my rolls, because I hate the texture of little balls popping in my mouth.
That’s what she said.
You can start with a salad if you want. Nothing amazing here, nothing terrible. Fresh veggies and that zippy, tangy, fluorescent ginger dressing that is so addictive that I SWEAR it has crack cocaine in it. But other than that…just okay.
Spicy Scallop Roll.
Yes. Briny, salty, a bit spicy with Sriracha sauce, slippery but not slimy and incredibly fresh The rice it was paired with was just a bit warmer than room temperature, which is how sushi rice should BE – slightly warm so that you get all the flavors of the rice vinegar and the gentle heat can bring out the flavors of the fish. This was perfect. 
Unagi. Now here is the stuff!!
Fatty, meaty pieces of barbecued eel brushed with caramel-y sauce and served with a band of nutty nori. If you have never had eel, I really think of it as steak of the sea. It is so rich and doesn’t have any residual seafood taste to me…if Americans didn’t know they were eating it, they would eat way more of it. Truth be told, I could eat 7 or 8 slices of this over a bowl of sushi rice and call it a day! But then I would miss this:
Spicy Mama Roll-spicy tuna, spicy yellowtail, spicy salmon, crunch & asparagus wrapped in Kombu 
This is one of those great Americanized sushi rolls, where everything is kinda mish-moshed together and just tastes great! This is, literally, all those different kinds of fish chopped together, flavored with spicy sriracha mayonnaise and served wit ht hat wonderful rice and Kombu seaweed, which is more papery and less nutty than regular nori. I am not going to look you in the (virtual) eye and wax poetic about the subtle differences of the fish here. What I will tell you is that the tartare of sorts was fresh, tasted silky and mild, and that the asparagus was a welcome textural crunch. Dragged through the spicy mayo and sweet eel sauce…I wanted for nothing at that moment in time

Happy Roll hot pepper tuna, asparagus inside, topped with salmon, tuna, eel, yellowtail, tobiko, crunchy with sweet honey wasabi sauce
Similar fish to what we had before, but vastly different roll.  Here, tuna was lightly seared with chili flakes and pepper until it had a crunchy, spicy outside but was still soft and rare within. The fish that topped the roll was clearly high quality, with deliciously fatty salmon, mild and buttery yellowtail, silky slices of tuna and that rich eel topping the roll. The honey wasabi sauce as a little too cloying for my tastes, but luckily, a few hits of wasabi paste punched up the spicy levels and made the fish taste even sweeter. The rice was, again, of paramount importance here, with the tender grains accenting the delicate texture of the fish,and the tangy flavor of the rice bringing out the fish’s lightly oceanic notes. 

This is just a great sushi place. If the rolls are a bit sloppy and the music is straight off a 14 year old’s i-pod, I don’t really mind. The fish is consistently high quality, the rice is very well made and the rolls are just what I crave. Not mind blowing, a destination joint or even remotely authentic, but it is so fresh and satisfying that it will always be at the top of my list. 
Because…after all…I DO need to have some Frito-type food on this blog.