When the Miami Dining Examiner has a hankering for sushi and she’s in South Miami, she has a variety of sushi joints to choose from. But like the proverbial Goldilocks, there’s only one sushi spot that is just right for her.
Miyako has large portions, but it’s expensive and the sushi is so-so. R.A. is noisy, service iffy and the sushi Americanized (think sauced, fried and cream cheese filled).
And so, when the Miami Dining Examiner feels like eating sushi, she heads to Akashi, the bright stone in the concrete jungle of Somi. This is particularly easy if she’s getting her tires worked on at Tire Kingdom, since they share the same building.
Sure, the outside of Akashi has seen better days, the lacquered tables inside are chipped up and the black leather menu looks like it survived World War II. But, the service is good, the sushi fresh and the prices reasonable.
Unlike the Miami Dining Examiner’s favorite Miami sushi restaurants, there aren’t usually many Asian diners at Akashi. At lunchtime, it’s often filled with talkative high school students, families and business people on their lunch break. The grey tile floors and music overhead add to the noisiness, but the fish tank behind the sushi bar and the low lighting are calming features amid the grey, lacquered walls.
The smell of Fabuloso upon entering on a recent visit was off putting, however, the Miami Dining Examiner and her companion were seated right away.
The Miami Dining Examiner is partial to the combo lunches served at Akashi, particularly numbers five through seven. This time she ordered number seven- half a California roll, chicken teriyaki, with shrimp and vegetable tempura. Her dining companion ordered the Alex roll, with chopped tuna, masago, spicy mayo and tempura flakes.
The combos come with a choice of soup or salad. The miso soup is hot and filling, the salad a refreshing iceberg lettuce with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots and orange ginger dressing. When the Miami Dining Examiner asked for the dressing on the side, it was no problem and came out right away.
The two tempura shrimp are large and come out hot in a crunchy, flaky batter, all the better to dip in the accompanying tempura sauce. The vegetables served were large disks of sliced zucchini, sweet potato and a broccoli floret, all fried perfectly in the tempura batter.
The ubiquitous California roll was fresh and tasty, with the accompanying pickled ginger and green wasabi. The chicken teriyaki was a large portion of flat chicken breast, grilled, sliced and served in a thick sweet sauce. The grill taste was assertive and the sauce had a lingering aftertaste.
The Miami Dining Examiner is detouring to talk about teriyaki sauce. For some reasons restaurants seem to think teriyaki is supposed to be a gloppy, sickeningly sweet sauce. However, the original teriyaki sauce is simplicity itself- made with sake, mirin, soy sauce and a little sugar. It’s meant to be brushed over the protein (teri means “gloss” in Japanese) and cooked. The Miami Dining Examiner wishes restaurants would return to the simple, beautiful, original teriyaki, which enhances the flavor of the protein, instead of camouflaging it. This is another example of food that has been Americanized to its detriment.
At any rate, this bento box with the appetizer, half a California roll, shrimp and vegetable tempura and chicken teriyaki was a large amount of food for just $13.95. The black clad, Asian servers are efficient and quick, pouring endless glasses of iced tea and bringing the check quickly.
On one visit, the Miami Dining Examiner ordered chicken teriyaki, but the kitchen was out of chicken, so beef replaced it, which was actually a tastier option. On another visit for dinner, there was no hot food available, only sushi and sashimi, making the Miami Dining Examiner wonder if there are issues in the kitchen. Overall, her experiences at Akashi have been positive and she would return again.
As a matter of fact, when she left Akashi to get her nails done, she ran into neighbors dining outside at Table 5. She asked how the food was at Table 5, a new restaurant on Sunset Drive. She was told it was good.
Upon telling them she’d just dined at Akashi, they remarked, “Oh, that’s our favorite.”
Apparently the secret’s out. Akashi- a neighborhood Asian gem. Alright, alright! Or as Goldilocks would say it’s just right.
Akashi Japanese Restaurant
5840 South Dixie Highway
South Miami, Florida 33143
M- Thursday 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.
Friday 11:30- 12 a.m.
Sunday 1 p.m.- 11 p.m.