Azuma Sushi

Azuma Sushi
615 Yates Street Victoria, BC tel: 382-8768

After closing for an extended renovation, Azuma Sushi is back with double the floor space and a far more refined decor. In a city where sushi restaurants are notoriously small, crowded and closed at inopportune moments, there is certainly a market for a large sushi spot serving lunch and dinner everyday.

We were seated quickly, but I wondered why our party of four was not seated at one of their swanky new booths. No matter, I at least had a good view of the guys making sushi, which suits me fine.

Azuma has a pretty big menu, with lots of bento boxes and small-plate dishes. The sushi is what you'd expect at any full-service sushi restaurant, with a broad selection of favourites, but nothing too terribly exotic. Our dishes were fresh, well-prepared and attractively presented.

Due to a mix up with our order, we didn't get precisely what we ordered, but I appreciated the sincere apology of the server.  Luckily, it was pretty similar to what we wanted (the reason for the mix-up, I presume).  Patty's parents, our lunch dates for the day, both ordered the bento box of the day -- chicken, rice, salad, fruit and shabu shabu style soup ($7.95 each, or 2 for $11.95). They both seemed delighted with their selection, but I was a little disappointed to see that none of the bento boxes were served with sushi. We all had the agadashi tofu (deep-fried tofu) which was hot and crispy on the outside -- a simple dish, it's one of my faves. Patty and I shared the spicy tuna sashimi ($8.95), fresh tuna served with a spicy sauce. I found the sauce a bit rich and not quite spicy enough, but Bob, Patty's dad, was lapping it up. Our sushi selection included a yam and tempura roll; a dynamite roll with BBQ eel and tempura prawn; a salmon and avocado roll; and a spicy scallop roll. The sure winner in this bunch was the dynamite roll -- the BBQ eel was a nice modification to the standard dynamite roll with only tempura prawn. Unfortunately, in the mix-up, I missed out on the Victoria roll with smoked salmon, crab and egg -- but, it will be first choice next time.

Other than the order problem, our server was friendly and approachable and the food delivery prompt. I like that the menu has a good selection of both hot and cold dishes. The beverage list is not extensive, but has the mandatory selection of import beers and sake, with a few other wines and beers. The new reno, enhances the ambiance of the space, as well as increasing seating. Azuma Sushi, is my top choice for downtown sushi.  Book if you want to be sure to get a seat -- and on Sundays and Mondays!

  Reviewed: March 6. 2006