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LSO Review: Asahi Sushi and Chinese Buffet

A+sushi+dish+at+Asahi+in+Londonderry.
A sushi dish at Asahi in Londonderry.

A sushi dish at Asahi in Londonderry.

Photo by Drew Lambert

Photo by Drew Lambert

A sushi dish at Asahi in Londonderry.

Drew Lambert, Reporter

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In present day America, you can find a plethora of different kinds of restaurants almost anywhere you go. Londonderry is no exception to that by any means.

Asahi is a Chinese buffet that also has a variety of other things such as Thai, Sushi and a full kitchen. With so many things in one restaurant, some problems can arise in terms of the quality of the food due to the different styles of cooking required for every dish.

My personal experience was nothing special by any means一 the service was slow and blunt. The food, while presented with a certain peculiar elegance, was a let down to my taste buds. Personally, I feel the particular chef that prepared my food focused far too much on presentation and the wow factor that it can bring. While presentation is one of the more refined things in the culinary arts, the freshness and quality of ingredients are also very refined things that any good chef should take into account.  

When I walked into the restaurant, there was no one behind the front counter. Due to this, I had to wait approximately seven minutes before actually being noticed by the wait staff. Plus another three minutes to get to an actual table. Not to mention the long wait for the food.

I had ordered three sushi rolls, specifically Chumaki* rolls, Chumaki only having two or three ingredients inside of them. Due to this fact, they’re not that difficult to prepare and can be knocked out of an order ticket with relative ease.

I have worked in this industry from 2013 to 2016, with my first position being the assistant to a sushi chef in a restaurant named Revelry. After that, I held a position as a server/host at an Italian restaurant called Pesce. My final position was as a line cook at a bar and grill called The Tap and Still.  

Throughout all of these experiences, I have never seen such a slow chef in my life like the one at Asahi. It seems as though he simply did not want to be there preparing the food.

After 45 minutes, I finally got my food, or I’d say most of it. I expected nothing more than poorly prepared and overly Americanized sushi, and that’s exactly what I got; this included Uramaki* that wanted to be Chumaki, or as I like to call it, a Gaijin** Maki Roll. The first two rolls I received were the Philadelphia and Hot Babe.

The three rolls I had ordered were the Philadelphia Roll,the Hot Babe Roll, and the Dynamite Roll. The Philadelphia roll was generic and quite uneventful. The insides contained smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese. The Hot Babe held true to its name with a Tuna Tataki, cucumber, avocado and a spicy sauce on the top.

The Dynamite Roll was a whole roll tempura with cream cheese and a Hamachi, which is a sturdy ocean fish also known as yellowtail jack with a delicate flavor along with some sort of unknown seafood medley on top, which by taste, I assume was a fake crab meat, otherwise known, as Kanikama Crab. This roll was by far and away the worst out of the three.     

The Philadelphia roll wasn’t a roll, but it was more of a cube cut into four parts on a diagonal with two of the more traditionally cylindrical pieces next to it. This roll was very basic and had nothing special besides the awkward presentation. If anything, it was mediocre at best. The Hot Babe had poorly prepared tuna tataki inside, it was over seared and had a very fishy taste with a dry, hard texture completely opposite from the usual soft and tender texture that tataki is supposed to have. The avocado almost saved the roll, redeeming it with some of the natural and creamy texture the avocado has. However, it wasn’t quite enough to save the roll altogether. This was overall not a good roll.

The final roll that I got was the Dynamite roll, a whole roll tempura, gone wrong. What they call a “light tempura batter” was used, and yes, they were correct on that. It was light, far too light. The roll was also fried at the wrong temperature, giving it a chewy, rubber-like and generally unpleasant feeling and taste. I didn’t finish this one due to the massive amount of things wrong with it. Not only was it fried wrong, but the topping was abhorrent in taste. It was a fake crab stick that had been pulled apart and covered in panko breadcrumbs, put into what I believe was a microwave oven so that the end result was dryer than the Gobi Desert in midsummer… Delicious. The plate had eel sauce on it, and that was about the only thing that had sauce on it. A dry and chewy roll with “Black Tobiko” as the staff called it clearly showed their incompetence to the proper names of the ingredients in their food. Tobiko are the eggs of the flying fish. The squid ink tobiko was a poor choice as it added a strange and salty taste to the roll, which did not enhance the flavor by any means. Not only did it alter the taste of the roll, but it made the roll generally unpleasant to look at.

Something about the color of the fried tempura batter or black specks of the squid ink tobiko was a major turn off for me. The visually grotesque atmosphere of the restaurant didn’t help either. I was honestly led to believe that the tobiko was replaced by Masago, which are the eggs of a fish within the Smelt family called the capelin, due to it being less expensive than Tobiko, as well as the wide availability.

A poorly placed fish tank in the back left of the restaurant, the generic 1980’s decor atmosphere and the empty booths and tables left me aghast. I have only seen something that empty during what we in the industry call “Suicide September”, due to the slowness of the season in the general hospitality industry.   

Overall, my experience here was far from pleasant. I personally do not recommend this restaurant, however I cannot speak for its entirety, only the sushi portion. If I had to give it a rating, I would give it 2 out of 5 stars.

For sushi etiquette and even more sushi facts, check out Food Republic’s “12 Sushi Commandments” for some cool facts and a small chuckle along with some cool recipes to make your own sushi!

Sushi Basics!

Maki Roll — thinly sliced fish, vegetables and seasoned rice wrapped in nori usually with soy, wasabi and ginger served on the side.

Kinds Of Maki:

  • Hosomaki: Thin Rolls; the smallest of the rolls, usually 1 inch in diameter with only one thing inside!
  • Chumaki: Medium Rolls; Only a tad bit bigger than Hosomaki rolls but with two things!
  • Futomaki:Thick Rolls ;The biggest of the sushi rolls usually 2 inches in diameter and has a lot of fillings!
  • Temaki: Hand rolls, They look like ice cream cones, but made out of sushi!   
  • Uramaki: Inside-Out roll, Used in the western style sushi! It’s where the rice is on the outside of the roll!

Hamachi — sturdy ocean fish also known as yellowtail jack with a delicate flavor

Inside Out — seasoned rice wrapped around thinly sliced fish, vegetables and nori

Gaijin is the Japanese term for someone who isn’t Japanese, in no way am I using it in a disrespectful or mocking manner in this article. Yes, I am referring to those wanna-be-Japanese places that many of us know about.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “LSO Review: Asahi Sushi and Chinese Buffet”

  1. Jasmin Conde on December 1st, 2017 11:20 am

    I trust this opinion enough to not go to this restaurant for sushi, which is kind of disappointing because there aren’t many places with high-quality sushi. Outstanding review, Drew, it was very well written.

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LSO Review: Asahi Sushi and Chinese Buffet