Sushi for Me, Dim Sum for ... Me
I’ve been eating at that AmerAsia by the University for years. The little house of mirrors, cramped tables and funny photoshopped pictures of Hyangami Yi, the owner, is probably among my top five places to eat. Hyangami usually wraps up an extra bao for my sister, a college student, to take home. She’s super sweet, and extra persistent when trying to force feed my vegetarian husband every meatless option she has available. I love it.
As promised, Hyangami and her brother Woo Youn have opened a Downtown location/sushi house at 800 3rd Street NW, (the corner of slate and 3rd). The building is gorgeous, a redone antique filling station. Inside it’s clean and bright, not overdone and certainly pretty. It doesn’t have quite the down-home charm of the original AmerAsia (still operating, BTW), but I appreciated the added elbow room.
When we ate at the AmerAsia half of the new endeavor last week, you could still faintly smell the stain drying on the wood, that’s how new it was. If you’ve never made it to either of the dim sum shops for fried beef-and-garlic dumplings, eggrolls, bao, potstickers, spicy pork rice or noodle salad, you need to go. The filling station seems to offer the same menu you find at the Cornell and Lead location so far.
This AmerAsia adjoins to Sumo Sushi, run by Hyangami’s brother. Now, I’m no sushi expert, but I’ve eaten at a lot of the places here in town and I’m a big fan. Sumo is hands-down my new favorite and seems unique in presentation, selection and decor. Your miso comes in covered bowls, the soy sauce lives in an elegant spouted earthenware pot. A little train circles the sushi bar, and someday, it might run all the way to the AmerAsia side of things. As it stands, when both are open, you can order items from either side.
I can’t speak to the quality of the sashimi or nigiri. I eat those things, but for me, it’s all about the rolls. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of the same old rolls offered at most sushi restaurants. Sumo offers some that I’ve never seen before. Even my old favorites came with a twist. The green chile roll, mandatory in Albuquerque of course, came with rice paper around the outside instead of seaweed. I never really noticed before how the seaweed competes with the chile, but the unobtrusive rice paper really lets our hometown’s favorite veggie (fruit?) shine.
I could go on and on about the rare flavor combinations I’ve tried so far, but I’m sure a far more qualified Alibi reviewer will do the deed soon. My advice? Order the thing that looks most odd to you. It’ll be good.