Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sushi in the South

Oh dear.

Dan had warned me not to have too high expectations about Asian cuisine. Having both lived a few years in Asia, and having been surrounded by an excellent array of good quality Asian restaurants in Victoria and Vancouver (there is a huge Asian population there, so much so that Vancouver is often referred to as "Wangcouver"), we have an appreciation for Asian done well.

I'm sure it is true of every cuisine that gets exported and adulterated. The new cuisine gets blended with the tastes and cooking styles of the local environment.

When Dan asked me what I wanted for dinner on Wednesday night, I said "sushi". Having tried Kinston's offerings, Dan decided we would be better off trying Greenville instead. A place called Wasabi 88 was recommended, so we went there.

The parking lot was full, so that was a good sign. When we walked in we were told there would be about a 30 minute wait. Was it worth it?

It turned out to be only a 20 minute wait, and we sat down to look at a very confusing menu. They call themselves an "Asian Bistro", so they had a blend of Thai, Chinese, and other Asian-sounding dishes on the menu. The only drink menu was for cocktails and sake (there is a great tradition of having beer in Japanese restaurants, but there was no beer here). We asked for green tea.

The tea came in a traditional pot with two small drinking bowls that felt like they were made of metal, which made the tea too hot to even pick up at first, but really that was the best part of the whole experience. Then our server came by and asked if we wanted sugar for our tea. I could not help the look of horror on my face and said NO!, and I think our poor guy was taken aback at my emphatic reaction. I tweeted this exchange and a number of Southerners responded strongly, defending 'sweet tea' (It's a thing around here).

There was a deal on at this restaurant for buy one sushi roll, get one free. When our server was explaining to us which menu items were applicable, he offered to split the bill for us. (Why would he offer that? Could he not tell we were married?) We said no thanks, that won't be necessary. We puzzled over why there would be catfish and tilapia (the crappiest of crappy fish) in sushi.

The hot and sour soup came. It wasn't bad, maybe a bit too gelatinous, and with button mushrooms. My friend Jeni makes a far better hot & sour soup (I miss you Jeni!)

Now when you order a sushi roll that costs $14, you expect it to be big, right? We were used to small rolls in Japan and Canada, but for the fancy ones with lots of stuff, those rolls are usually big. This is what came out.

I think this was the first time I had ever been served sushi on a round plate. It was beautifully displayed to be sure, it looked wonderful. The taste however was disappointing. A gal came by and asked us if we wanted soy sauce. Of course! The wasabi was quite wimpy, it was no wonder they gave such a big portion of it.

Thus, before we were halfway done our meal, we cheerfully declared to each other that we would never need to eat here again. Our server came by and once again offered to split the check. What? Maybe that's what the rest of their clientele does but dude, we even have matching wedding rings. Perhaps he was just young.

I think we will, however, investigate and sample all the Asian restaurants in the area over time. We are both quite proficient in cooking Asian cuisine if we can find the right ingredients, so I expect we'll be doing some entertaining on this front.


  1. First, once again, congratulations! I'm so glad that your ordeal is over and you and himself are together at last.

    Second, yeah, I've pretty much given up on any East Asian food down here, and save that for trips back home. Also? Stay the hell away from seafood unless you're on the coast: the salmon is probably farmed, and folks down here tend to like their seafood cooked far more than we do, so even if the chef weeps while doing it, he/she will cook the snot out of it to cater to local tastes. I found it's best to stick to what the South does better than anyone else: barbeque and soul food. Also, do try the catfish: these folks know their way around that one far better than we do. You're also likely to find much better Mexican food down here than you'd ever find in Canuckia, and unlike back home, some of the best food can be found in restaurants attached to gas stations. I know. So weird. It took me ages to wrap my head around the idea that it's not that there's a lack of good food here, it's that it's a different culture, and they do different things well. It's an adjustment, for sure, but that's part of the adventure of living in another place, right?

    P.S. I don't know if it's the same in NC, but you probably shouldn't expect the yoghurt to be anything like what you're used to, either. OTOH, the Greek yoghurt down here rocks.

    1. Thanks! We're glad too. Yes, Dan also warned me about seafood. I have yet to have good Mexican but I do know it is possible here.

      Yogurt - once I'm set up, I'll make my own! But so far the sour cream and cottage cheese has been *fantastic*. That said, I'm trying to reduce my dairy intake as it is not agreeing with me so much these days...