Lower than expected turnout at any event is not a good thing, but there is one silver lining: earlier than expected end time. Which is how my family was able to get to Akira's Sushi right as they opened for dinner at 5:00pm:
When CL told me about a new AYCE sushi restaurant in Santa Clara, I was all for it. I love Kenzo, but going anywhere in South San Jose just feels so, well, far.
Not only is Akira's closer, but there's - gasp - no wait:
Like Kenzo, Akira's allows you five rounds to order whatever you wish off the laminated menu:
We weren't looking to break any records, so we took things easy and didn't pressure ourselves to eat more than we could.
To warm up, I started with a bowl of miso soup:
As part of our first round, we also got the sashimi salad:
And the poke salad, which was surprisingly spicy:
And the salmon skin salad:
My theory is that eating greens first lays the groundwork for smoother...um...passage...later.
Without wasting any time, we jumped right into the nigiri:
Having learned our lesson at Kenzo, we didn't go crazy with the nigiri. Instead, we ordered exactly how many we thought we could handle:
Can't forget unagi:
Then came the rolls:
On the left is the spider woman, which is soft shell crab tempura, crab meat, and cucumber toppd with unagi, avocado, and unagi sauce. On the right is the mac randy, which is made with unagi, salmon, cream cheese, garlic, and basil topped with unagi sauce and macadamia nuts.
Yes, basil. And yes, it's life changing.
Besides baked mussels, we also got the baked scallop roll:
The baked scallop roll at Akira's has bigger pieces of scallop than the one at Kenzo. But the one at Kenzo has much more sauce, which in my opinion, is more important than scallop. Sauce is life.
Feeling confident, we ordered as part of our first round another two rolls:
On the left is the rock star, which is unagi, avocado, and cucumber, topped with salmon, unagi sauce, wasabi mayo, and macadamia nuts.
For our second round, we ordered more nigiri (mostly repeat ones, so I didn't take a picture). My mom wanted to try the agedashi:
The tofu wasn't as silky and soft as she expected it to be. That was disappointing.
The baked mussels were good though:
The shrimp tempura wasn't as great:
Of course we had to get more rolls. One of the servers recommended the mango mania (on the left), so we ordered that along with the ocean side (on the left):
The mango mania came with spicy crab and mango topped with salmon, unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and tempura flakes. The ocean side came wrapped in soybean paper instead of nori and consisted of shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and crab meat, topped with more tuna and salmon.
I loved the basil in the mac randy so much that I demanded another maki with basil in it. We went with the tropi, which was unagi, avocado, basil, and macadamia nuts:
Mom wanted a deep fried roll, so we got the bad friends roll for her:
With tuna, hamachi, salmon, and salmon on the inside, the roll is fried and then drizzled with unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and tobiko.
We were about done at that point, but out of stubborness, we pushed ourselves into a third round. I got another sashimi salad (to help with that smooth passage I mentioned earlier) and we ended our meal with some edamame:
Akira's AYCE is $21.95 for lunch and $25.95 for dinner. Dinner is slightly cheaper at Kenzo ($24.95) and even though Akira's has a slightly leaner selection (and the nigiri comes with more rice), I rather pay the extra dollar to NOT have to wait an hour for a table. Since it's less busy, the service at Akira's is friendlier and much more proactive. You never need to ask for tea because someone is always checking to see whether you want more.
Next time, I would avoid the fried stuff and focus on the nigiri and the rolls. Definitely the ones with basil. Basil in sushi was a completely new experience for me, one that I want to repeat over and over. Maybe I'm just basil crazy, but it adds this refreshing element that's just oh-so-genius.
Guess I've found my new go-to sushi buffet place.
3430 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051