By Tanisha Gupta and Zoe Hazerjian
Some people shy away from sushi because of the common misconception that it is always made with raw fish. However, sushi is a delectable dish that can be enjoyed in a wide range of variations, be it fish, shellfish or vegetables. ECHO staffers Zoe Hazerjian and Tanisha Gupta have scouted out the best sushi restaurants for your convenience!
Kurama Sushi and Noodle – 3.5
Located directly on main Franklin Street, this small restaurant is ideal for college and high school students looking for a cheap yet tasty meal. The unique conveyor belt system serves dually as a menu and a waiter as it rotates yummy rolls around the sushi bar. What really sets Kurama apart from other sushi places is one thing: price. The incredibly low price for decent sushi is a factor that cannot be overlooked. Basic rolls go for about $2 to $5 dollars while speciality rolls can steep to $10 dollars. We found the sushi to be semi-fresh and a bit bland, but overall we were impressed by the quality of the food for the price. One major flaw we detected was the slow service, attributed to the lack of servers. The restaurant staffed one chef and two waitresses who were friendly, but could have used some extra help cleaning the messy booths from previous customers.
Shiki Sushi – 5
Shiki Sushi is one of our longtime personal favorites. This Asian fusion restaurant has an extensive specialty sushi roll menu and customers can even design their own combinations if they feel inclined to. The relaxed yet elegant ambience makes for a lovely meal, be it a nice date or simply a rendezvous with some friends on a Friday night. Since we average biweekly visits to Shiki, we can recommend a few select items for sushi lovers. The San Francisco Roll adds a hint of lemon rind to the beloved classic California Roll. The Volcano Roll is a baked spicy tuna roll topped with salmon and tempura crunch. Last but not least, the Fabulous Roll sticks true to its name. Don’t let the somewhat high priced menu (sushi here goes from $8 to $16) fool you as the sushi is always BOGO (buy one get one free). With that sweet offer, you can easily enjoy a great meal for two at an upscale restaurant for $20 or under!
Whole Foods Market- 3
Expanding on its grocery store and delicious bakery, Whole Foods has added a salad bar, a small cafe and a mini-buffet for hot meals. Of the many additions, we were most excited to see that the upscale grocer now offers a selection of fresh and easy-to-go sushi meals made by an in-house sushi chef! Ranging from $8 to $14 dollars, the sushi is comparatively in the moderate to high price range, but definitely worth the price. However, we found the lack of soy sauce and the compact packaging to be disturbing as we created a grand mess after opening the sushi, chopsticks and small soy sauce packets. The Whole Foods venue is obviously not ideal to take your Thanksgiving Dance date to, but is perfect for a grab-and-go during lunch!
Akai Hana – 4
Akai Hana is a quaint restaurant located in downtown Carrboro. Upon entering, we were pleased to see a cozy setup that included a long sushi bar for those who wanted a quick bite and a separate dining area for those who wanted to dine longer. Their sushi selection is more traditional in comparison to Shiki Sushi, but delicious never the same. The ingredients were fresh and the display was very inviting. We were also very impressed by the speedy and enthusiastic service we received but found the prices to be a bit steep for the portion size. This is a good local, alternative for those in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area who are craving sushi.
Spicy 9 – 2.5
This new restaurant on Franklin Street has attracted many new customers with its BOGO deal for sushi. In comparison to its neighboring competition, Kurama Sushi and Noodle, Spicy 9 is more upscale. However, the price leaves much to be desired. The average price for an eight-roll sushi or sashimi is about $13 dollars. In addition, he menu is not as extensive as Shiki Sushi and the overall quality of sushi is just average. The service is mediocre, and although we did eat at a busy time, we felt rushed to order and then skedaddle. For the price of the sushi and the overall experience, we can say we’ve had better.