Riverside’s Akashi Sushi Bar
By Paula Johnson
Photo: Hamachi Kama at Riverside’s Akashi Sushi Bar; photos: Paula Johnson
A craving for Korean prompted my recent outing to Akashi with PIP (Palate In Progress) and some DCP pals. Akashi, located right off of Route 4 on Harshman Road, offers both Korean and Japanese cuisine, perfect for the tastes of our mixed group. Sushi and a menu of traditional Japanese cuisine, plus some standard Korean favorites meant no one’s taste buds need be compromised. We settled in to the pleasant and comfortable interior to make our choices.
As I looked at the menu, I realized what I was really craving were noodles, both Korean and Japanese. But first I wanted to try a bit of sushi and a few appetizers, one in particular: Hamachi Kama ($12.95 market price), one of my favorite fish offerings. It’s yellowtail collar, a dramatic arc of bone with fins still attached. The grilled meat attached to that bone is oily, fatty, rich, and deliciously sweet. I found myself picking the bone clean in no time. This dish is not to be missed, fins and all.
Other appetizers followed and were well prepared and tasty, and, as it turns out, more successful than the subsequent noodle dishes I came for. I tried two fried offerings, Kushikatsu and a colossal Deep Fried Oyster (both $5.95). The Katsu was alternating pork chunks and onion slices threaded on a skewer and coated with crunchy, deep fried, panko-style breading. The oyster, giant enough to cut into four large bites, was tender and sweet inside the crunchy outer shell. All seemed pleased with the sushi offerings, PIP sticking with diet-friendly sashimi. I tried a piece of fatty tuna nigiri and was satisfied, and though I didn’t try the attractively presented Negi Hamachi Hand Roll ($8.95), it was reported nicely done by our DCP pal, who is a Japanese native.
Oodles of Noodles
I started my noodle fest with Japchae ($13.95), a Korean dish made from sweet potato noodles, stir fried in sesame oil with vegetables. The name “japchae” comes from two hanja words: “jap,” meaning “mixed and stirred,” and “chae,” meaning “vegetables.” These clear, sesame-sprinkled noodles have a sweet soy flavor and a slippery texture. Akashi’s version also had slices of beef, along with thinly sliced carrots, onion, zucchini, and spinach. In general, I wished for more vegetables and felt that the ratio of noodles to other elements was off. However, there was kimchi served alongside as a condiment, which helped.
Kimchi is hands down my favorite fermented food and turns out I’m not alone. It’s estimated South Koreans eat an average of 40 pounds of Kimchi each year. I can’t get enough of its oily, red chili sour savory tang. We should be eating more of it considering it’s packed with vitamin A, thiamine B1, riboflavin B2, calcium, and iron, not to mention the same lactobacilli bacteria found in yogurt.
I moved on to sample Akashi’s Yaki-soba ($8.95). Yaki-soba, meaning fried buckwheat, a ramen-style noodle dish served with small bites of meat and vegetables (though the noodle is often made instead with wheat flour). The flavor of this dish is mild and slightly sweet. My favorite thing was the generous shavings of fish flakes, called katsuobushi, which top the noodles, along with a pile of bright pink pickled ginger matchsticks. This dish was fine, a little dry and not quite as flavorful as I was hoping for. I would look to try something else next time. Akashi has several other noodle options, and I’d like to sample some of the more soup-like choices when I return.
In general, I felt the quality of Akashi’s ingredients and execution was fine, and would recommend it as an outing for sushi and appetizers, especially the Hamachi Kama. It’s a pleasant place to dine, and I’d like to sample more of the sushi and try a few of the other Korean offerings, of course with extra kimchi!
Akashi Sushi Bar is located at 2020 Harshman Rd. in Riverside. For more information, please call 937.233.8005 or visit Facebook.com/SushiBarAkashi.