Japanese Kitchen is doing something right. The well-established restaurant has barely a glimpse of street view—and from Americas Parkway, at that. Buried in a nondescript business cluster across Louisiana from ABQ Uptown, Japanese Kitchen is spread between two kitty-cornered buildings that are separated by a shaded plaza. Walking to the double restaurant means winding your way through narrow urban canyons. When you finally get there, eating exotic foods feels appropriate. Despite their near-invisibility, Japanese Kitchen’s sushi bar and steakhouse get quite busy—even rowdy at times, especially in the teppan corner.
Without Champagne, passion-
Another nigiri highlight was the aji, or mackerel, a fish that's typically marinated before it hits the plate. Japanese Kitchen offered only minced scallions. They were savage-looking pieces of fish, their silver skin slashed in places to reveal red and white flesh that had a clean, faint sea breeze flavor. Also interesting were carefully cleaned ebi (sweet shrimp), raw but for the heads, which were deep-fried and served on the side.
They were savage-looking pieces of fish, their silver skin slashed in places to reveal red and white flesh that had a clean, faint sea breeze flavor.
I was so absorbed by this corner of the restaurant that I never got my teppan on across the way. But every hot dish I tried on sushi side was excellent, including perhaps the best udon and tempura I’ve had in Albuquerque. The udon broth was simple and soulful, and the noodles were absolutely perfect—soft but toothsome, they provided true chewing pleasure.
A sashimi lunch special came with an impressive pile of veggie tempura. The batter was crispy but not tough, light but not submissive. The vegetables were presented in bold shapes that maximized their volume-to-surface ratios—a sheet of sweet potato, a smiling slice of kabocha squash, an onion ring, a whole button mushroom, a zucchini half that was bursting with juice inside, and a chunk of bell pepper that I didn’t resent because it wasn’t billed as green chile.
As I finished thick slabs of bright sashimi, I asked the chef at the bar why I hadn’t seen Kona Kampachi on special lately. He shrugged.
“We get it sometimes,” he said.
“How is it?”
Sweet shrimp nigiri