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Posted by MEZ 29 Aug 2011 9 Comments

Akashi is a cute Japanese restaurant in the black , yellow, and red complex on Highway 54 right before entering RTP. They are one of five restaurants focusing on sushi in South Durham; I guess we like our fish down here? Nearly all of them have some sort of gimmick to get in more business. Akashi’s strategy is that sushi rolls are 50% off at all times, which makes for quite affordable fare! But it also begs the question of why they don’t just halve the prices. I suppose that’s marketing for you.

In pricing, they do have about 5 or 6 changing specialty rolls on the front of the sushi menu whose listed prices are what you will be charged for them. But for the rest of the sushi, the prices are half of what’s listed in the menu.

For decor, Akashi has jungle green walls with wood accents and cozy black booths and tables. There are a few paintings of Japanese vistas. The sushi bar is separated from the main dining room. I’d call it an inviting spot.


Sushi is definitely Akashi’s main focus, but they also have a separate menu that offers teriyaki or hibachi meals, pho, udon, and bento boxes. The appetizer list is surprisingly long and covers items from tempura to baked mussels to yakitori. I ordered the steamed shrimp shumai. They are available fried, too.

They were super good: plenty of shrimp chopped up and stuffed inside the nicely steamed dumplings. The thin, lively dipping sauce was especially delicious.

Of course, we had plenty of sushi.

The sushi chefs apparently had fun setting up the plate, making an aurora roll (California roll with tempura flakes, hot sesame oil, spicy sauce, white tuna, and scallion) loop its way around the spicy scallop roll and arranging the Romeo roll (spicy tuna roll with tempura flakes, cilantro, and avocado) like a pinwheel of teardrop-shaped pieces. Points for presentation!

I’d call their sushi rolls more restrained versions of what super-stuffed deluxe sushi rolls usually are, which is a good thing. I like being able to fit a whole piece in my mouth! The Romeo roll definitely stood out—it’s amazing how adding cilantro to the roll can enliven it. The spicy scallop was also quite tasty. We also had spicy scallop nigiri and the diablo roll (snow crab, hot sesame oil, spicy mayo, shrimp tempura).

My friend has a ritual for when she eats at Akashi. She tests her limits with a single order of wasabi tobiko nigiri, which is the green one in the picture. No tears shed this trip, but it was close.

I’m not a sashimi expert by any means, so if anyone can share on the quality of their sashimi, please do! Overall, I was happy with the value and the uniqueness of their presentation.

2223 NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, Durham
Deluxe Sushi Rolls: $6–$11 (and 50% off)


  • James said:

    What are the five restaurants? I know:

    Shiki Sushi

    What are the other two?


    MEZ replies on August 29th, 2011 at 2:43 pm:

    Momoyama at the Renaissance Parkway shopping center and Yamazushi at the Woodcroft shopping center. We are spoiled in the sushi department!


    James replies on August 29th, 2011 at 5:17 pm:

    Ah! How would you rate them?

    I’ve only had Momoyama once and haven’t had Yamazushi in years.

    I definitely think Sansui has the best bang for the buck. I tend to prefer Akashi to Shiki for sushi but not for other menu items. It’s frustrating to me that Shiki does not offer 2 for 1 on takeout.

    I’ll have to give Momoyama another shot.


    MEZ replies on August 30th, 2011 at 12:02 am:

    Tough to rate! Here’s my lowdown.
    Sansui, I haven’t been to yet.
    Akashi was a great value and I’d rank it the same as Shiki in quality, but I give Shiki bonus points for atmosphere, other menu options, and cocktails because those are important to me.
    Momoyama has the best quality sushi, and their other menu items are also great–even the miso soup and iceberg salads seem a step above other spots. But you pay for that quality a fair bit more, and the atmosphere is not that exciting.
    Yamazushi, I’ve only been to once and it was at least four years ago. I had a bento box and remember it being good, but not quite worth the price to me. It’s a very small location and never that busy. I’m surprised it’s stayed in business, to be honest, but only because it’s not as popular as the other spots.

  • Ralph Haygood said:

    Akashi is my favorite of the many sushi places I’ve tried in the Triangle. I’ve eaten there over 50 times since 2005. I find the sushi generally delicious and reasonably priced. (Once, I managed to tear myself away from the sushi and order a hibachi platter, and that was good too.) The original owner and chef was Vietnamese, and he gave some of the rolls interesting accents such as cilantro and Sriracha sauce. The current owner, I’m happy to say, has kept up these touches. I’ve worried they aren’t getting as much business as they deserve, because their location seems good for lunch (many people work nearby) but not so good for dinner. But I gather they’re doing well enough, which is great for me and all the other people who’ve discovered them.

    Thanks for reporting on yet another excellent restaurant in Durham.


  • Burgeoningfoodie said:

    Funny that they would have a typical chinese dish at a sushi restaurant, but maybe they have those at all sushi places and this is the first time it was being pointed out.

    Momoyama (near Super Target) is another one and I guess one would say yamazushi (in woodcroft), but I heard that their japanese katsu is better than their sushi. As far as sushi overall, I hear that Kurama on 15-501 takes top honors.


  • Kitty said:

    We live in the area and generally rotate between ShikiSushi and Akashi. We have been to Sansui, too, but I can’t get over the crazy tables in there for some reason!!

    Our go to place is always Akashi. We are always pleasantly greeted by the host and usually the sushi chefs, too. Service is always friendly and pleasant. We have honestly gotten tired of waiting at Shiki for service that is so-so, and sometimes it is so loud in there it is difficult to hold a conversation.

    Also, at Shiki, the past couple of times we have gone, the rolls just fall apart. Anyone else notice this?? It is like their rice is just not right. My little dish of soy just gets filled with grains of rice and my plate is a mess. Every time we go to Akashi, we always comment how great their rolls are formed and hold together.

    If you like eel, then Shiki is the place for you for sure. But if you don’t want to wait 45 minutes for a table, cruise on down HWY 54 to Akashi and give it a try… I don’t think you will be disappointed at all.


  • Deb said:

    Glad to see Akashi on here. Someone told me it was the best sushi in Durham when I moved here, and so far they’re right. Mt Fuji and Shiki don’t compare. Akashi has no ambience, but that’s not important to me. The killer prices, the ROMEO (you picked the right roll) and the White Dragon are fantastic. I’ve been to Peony (not sure if it’s technically in Durham or Chapel Hill) and that’s pretty good but Akashi always has great service and great fish.


  • Mika said:

    I know I’m super late in posting but I HAD to chime in by saying that Akashi is my absolute favorite place for Hibachi in the Triangle area. I have been a patron at this place sooooo many times it’s not even funny :) The shrimp and steak tepanaki (on their hibachi menu)is my “go to” dish each and every time and, yes, the other commenter is right…you get the best greetings in this place from the host; especially once they start to see you as a regular (like myself). They seat you quickly, keep your drinks full, and always ask you to come back with a smile.


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