Roppongi brings sushi to town
by Staff Writer
by Cathy Swiney
Roppongi Sushi & Bar delivers sushi enthusiasts the miniature edible masterpieces of their dreams.
Roppongi is new to the Rosedale Shopping Center in Huntersville and capitalizes on the sushi craze by offering an extensive menu of quality fresh fish in forms of nigiri, maki, sashimi and specialty rolls that balance taste, texture, colors and presentation.
“We actually believe there is plenty of room in this market to introduce this wonderful edible art,” manager Roland Lau, said. “The whole experience of Roppongi is from the food to the customer service. We feel that … after eating at Roppongi it would give us an edge on the other sushi places.”
Lau said that while the restaurant has quickly become a hit with experienced sushi eaters, all manner of customers come in for lunch and dinner, from businessmen to families with young children to teens, who enjoy the cool factor. The wait staff talks with customers to determine if they are new to sushi or are aficionados to ensure their experience is a good one,.
“There is a misconception with people that they still say sushi and think raw fish, ‘eww, I don’t like that,” Lau said. “But we have a lot of rolls that are cooked.”
Roppongi is named after the popular district of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Tokyo. Its sleek, classy interior is dimly lit and decorated with custom artwork, stone and glass accents. Dark wood tables and booths with bright red seating add a contemporary feel.
There are two separate Asian-style party rooms with complementary artwork and lighting ideal for small groups. The counter at the sushi bar offers seven seats for watching and interacting with the sushi chefs.
“Roppongi is known for its architecture and contemporariness, and we wanted to bring that feel here,” Lau said of the space that formerly held Friendly’s. “We want it to be a welcoming environment that is not overwhelming.”
Appetizers include traditional Japanese staples like pork dumplings, skewered grilled chicken and spring rolls. Adventurous eaters might start with a Uni Shot, a delicacy made with sea urchin that is served with quail egg sauce and hot sake in a shot glass. Hamachi Kama is the charbroiled yellowfin tuna cheek served with ponzu sauce. Try tuna tartar for a tropical flavor with its chopped tuna, avocado, mango and flying fish roe in chef’s special sauce.
Those trying sushi for the first time might start with a vinegar rice roll enfolding a vegetable, such as a cucumber or avocado roll or a cooked fish with a mild flavor, such as the classic California roll, made with crab, cucumber and avocado.
“Then they can start easing into different rolls that contain the more exotic fish,” Lau said. “The really (serious) eaters go for sea urchin. That’s exotic.”
Chef’s special rolls and house signature rolls are servings of six to eight pieces. The Volcano Roll is a popular choice. It features salmon tempura, cucumber and avocado topped with baked scallop, shrimp, crabmeat and spicy sauce.
“The way it is prepared, there is steam coming up from it,” Lau said.
Another favorite is the Fantastic Roll with deep-fried lobster and mango topped with seared filet mignon and chef’s special sauce.
Nigiri, raw fish atop rice, is available a la carte with selections including tuna, salmon, eel, sea urchin and fatty tuna. Among the choices for maki, rolls with rice enveloped in seaweed, are lobster, snow crab and spicy scallop.
Entrees feature assorted combinations of sushi, sashimi and rolls that consist of everything from vegetables to raw fish. The roll combination offers a tuna roll, salmon roll and California roll while the sushi and sashimi combination is comprised of multiple pieces of nigiri, sashimi and tuna roll. The vegetable sushi combination features assorted vegetables on sushi rice and an avocado roll.
The menu also offers other basic Japanese fare such as tempura and teriyaki with chicken, beef and seafood. Other options include noodle and rice dishes such as the House Udon, noodle soup with tempura shrimp and egg, and Gyu Don, beef with onions served over rice.
Desserts include Ice Cream Mochi, ice cream wrapped in rice paper, and Banana Tempura, a lightly battered and deep-fried banana with whipped cream.
Roppongi is proving that while new to the area, it has mastered the edible art of sushi.