Let’s talk sushi.
When people ask about my favorite thing to eat, I always hesitate before answering. As a food-obsessed girl living in the ever-growing culinary city that is Charlotte, it’s difficult to pick a winner. How can I show favoritism? Pizza has my heart. Greek food is my thing. Tacos are my friends.
But when it comes down to it, going out for sushi is consistently the most enjoyable and satisfying dining experiences in my world.
Ranking these sushi spots wouldn’t be fair, so here, in no particular order, are some of my go-to places for sushi lovin’.
You never forget your first Charlotte sushi roll. Okay, maybe you do, but bear with me. When I moved to Charlotte, Jade was my first sushi visit AND my first dining experience here in general. So that’s given it a special place in my hungry heart.
If I’d grown up in this city, I feel like Jade would be a frequent destination for my family and me. The sushi menu is large but not overwhelming, and their Asian dishes are delicious, too. And it’s located in the middle of family-friendly Ballantyne.
What to try: The Cherry Blossom (tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, and avocado wrapped in soybean sheet) – always highly recommended by anyone you ask, and for good reason.
(2) Sushi 101
My to-eat list in Charlotte is obnoxiously long. So when I crave sushi and can’t summon the energy to pick somewhere new, I always head to Sushi 101. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to sit down and have a quick meal or if you’re grabbing it on the run.
I’ve been there too many times to remember everything I’ve had, but the Dragon Roll pictured above was pretty darn good. I usually eat at the restaurant, but this photo was taken on my porch. Hence the patio table and slight glimpse of my to-go bag in the back (oops).
What to try: The Panhandle (tuna, aioli, and tempura crunches, topped with avocado, yellowtail, and sriracha) – And try their fried rice! Yum.
(3) New Zealand Café
Confused by the name? Same, but I’m not too worried about it. The website states their menu is a blend of New Zealand and Asian cuisines. I know nothing about the former but can certainly vouch for their take on the latter.
This hidden gem is a good 20 minutes away from my home, but I’d make the drive any day. It’s located in a shopping plaza and only fits 40 people. I would’ve guessed way less than that, but the Internet doesn’t lie. It’s very unassuming, but that’s what makes it so unique. And the sushi is amazing.
You know you’ve ordered right when they serve it in a boat.
What to try: Everything, apparently… I’ve heard so many people rave about this place. Insider tip: Order the Banana Roll. It’s not on the menu, and I’ve never had it, so maybe don’t listen to me. But I’m a believer!
(4) Pisces Sushi
The coolest thing about Pisces is a feature I haven’t experienced myself: They have all-you-can-eat sushi for $10, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Yes. Unfortunately, if I drove there on my lunch break, I’d have to turn around before even taking a seat to make it back in time. But if you’re close to the Metropolitan around lunchtime, I suggest Pisces. (P.S. If you can’t make it for lunch, they have half-price rolls during the week from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. You’re welcome.)
Part of the sushi fun stems from plating and delivery, and Pisces does well in this area. I’ve stalked several photos of the chef’s special, called the omakase, and it always looks killer. Adding that to my ever-growing list as we speak.
What to try: The Shellfish Bastard (shrimp and crab tempura topped with seared scallop, crab salad and fried onions) – tastes great and photographs well, too.
If you’re looking for awesome sushi in South End, Nikko is the spot. And if you want to party without leaving where you ate, you’re in luck. On Friday and Saturday nights, Nikko breaks out a DJ and welcomes the nightlife crowd. I’ve never stayed for the fun stuff, but with Joanna (the owner – you’ll know her if you’ve been here!) involved, it’s gotta be a good time.
Nikko is pretty huge, so it’s a good place to pick if you have a large crowd. The sushi bar is nice and spacious, which is perfect for me. More room for all 100 rolls I order. Ugh.
What to try: The Dancing Queen (guacamole on a spicy tuna roll) – yes, this is real, and yes, it is incredible. Is it weird that some of the best guac I’ve ever had is from a sushi place…?
I’d love to hear where YOU love to get sushi. Trust me, I’ve got plenty more places to try, and I’m not afraid to add more.
(Photo credit: Cover image via New Zealand Cafe Facebook page)