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Heart of Tokyo
Thursday, 15 September 2011
Photos by Wes Naman
Fusion of Chinese and Japanese at Sushiya adds color to NE Heights sushi scene
By Lindsey Little
Sushi may not be the top choice of cuisine in a desert state, but high-quality fish makes all the difference. After recently becoming a sushi fanatic and trying nearly every seafood restaurant in town, Sushiya Asian Fusion Cuisine has stolen my heart.

Located in an inconspicuous corner of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights, Sushiya was opened in September of 2009 by chef and owner Chun Lin, who came from Santa Fe to begin his own sushi eatery. His goal was to have a menu replete with a fusion of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. This blending of Asian cuisines in one restaurant is a trend in many American cities these days, including Albuquerque, and it’s accomplished to varying degrees of success. In my opinion, Lin succeeds admirably.

Dark red walls and Chinese décor give Sushiya an appealing and relaxing ambience. It is evident why the color red is becoming one of the most popular colors in upscale restaurants. Beyond stimulating our appetites, the rich color gave us a feeling of indulgence before even tasting the exquisite cuisine.

ImageThe foundation for any sushi restaurant, of course, is fresh fish, and the seafood at Sushiya evokes the nautical coast, where fish is served virtually within walking distance of where it is caught. The wonderful aroma fills nearly every sense before the first bite. 

I sat down prepared to fill my stomach to the brim. The waitress must have read my mind, as she immediately delivered a bowl of perfectly salted edamame. She informed us that this fresh soy bean appetizer is occasionally on the house without any request, similar to the classic chips and salsa delivered for free at many New Mexican restaurants. To say the least, I was a fan.

The initial eye-catcher in the restaurant was a martini glass filled with freshly cut, raw salmon that could be seen on nearly every table. As a sucker for aesthetic appeal, I was captivated. My fiancé and I made sure to order it, and its arrival did not disappoint: vibrant red orange and deliciously fresh, it was the perfect start to our meal.

ImageOther sushi presentations are almost equally as colorful and delivered on large plates. The Eskimo Roll — fresh salmon and avocado served in the style of a California roll — wasn’t my favorite dish, but allowed for a traditional taste of sushi. The Flamingo is a tasty combination of shrimp tempura, crab and avocado topped with spicy tuna. And we also tried the Buddha Belly — a colorful and delicious collection of salmon, white tuna, hamachi, crab, avocado, cucumber and tobiko that covers the plate.

Taking advantage of the chef’s mood, and our luck, we indulged in a Sushiya option, which was an unknown combination of seafood with delicious cream cheese and green chile. And we pushed our appetites to try the Goo Loo – an “authentic thousand-year old recipe” featuring chicken, pork or beef sautéed in a sweet savory sauce plated with tempura vegetables, which proved to be a unique and flavorful dish.

While close to perfect, the meal was not flawless. Unfortunately, the waitress either didn’t hear us or forgot our appetizer order of chile puffs, which I’ve tried on a different visit and recommend. These are tempura chiles stuffed with cream cheese and crab, accompanied by sauces of eel and spicy mayo.

Sushi has grown in popularity in recent years, for taste and health reasons, and might even reside on the current lists of trendiest foods, and I am a convert. My heart, and my taste buds, have found a home at Sushiya.

Sushiya Asian Fusion Cuisine
11:30a-9p, Mon.-Thu.; 11:30a-9:30p, Fri.-Sat.; Noon-9p, Sun.
2906 Juan Tabo NE, 505.275.4777

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