Did you know there is Japanese restaurant located next to Sycamore Brewery in Charlotte's South End? Yamazaru at 2173 Hawkins Street opened in early 2017 with minimal advertising and press. The menu is large and offers appetizers, soups, sushi rolls, sashimi bowls, ramen, and even more options. The quality level of their food is high along with a great selection of saki and other alcoholic beverages. You can view pictures of the menu and additional information in this Charlotte Agenda article. I have had the opportunity to go three times in 2018 and enjoyed each visit. Yamazaru offers some of the most authentic Japanese cuisine in Charlotte, NC.
The long list of appetizers can seem overwhelming at first glance. Edamame and pork gyoza are always crown pleasing, but my personal favorite is their seasonal quail egg and tuna tartar dish. I would highly recommend it for those interested high quality, raw ingredients. I am also a sucker for anything that comes with chips. I have not had an opportunity to try their soups and salads, but I have eaten the tonkotsu ramen bowl. It was quite tasty and not overbearingly salty. The ramen dish fulfilled my expectations and satisfied a craving since visiting Japan. The portion size is fairly large and pairing it with a smaller specialty roll will suffice your hunger.
The main attraction at Yamazaru is their sushi offerings. They have a large list of specialty and maki rolls. Prices are very affordable with the highest priced specialty roll at $11.00. I would recommend ordering three to share with another person and maybe add in a small appetizer. The Rainbow Roll offered is not the usual California Roll with salmon and tuna on top. Their version comes with with assortment of fish including squid and masago. Another great option is the Ichiban roll with shrimp tempura, crab salad, and eel. For those interested in sashimi or a truly authentic dish, look no further than the Chirashi rice bowl. For $15.00, this dish comes with 10 pieces of assorted sashimi over a bed of rice. What makes this rice bowl an amazing meal, beyond the price point, is the quality of rice served. One of the key indicators of a great sushi restaurant is the quality and texture of the rice. This dish truly took me back to Tokyo, Japan and was on par with many sushi samplings I enjoyed overseas. If you are a fan of sushi or any kind of Asian cuisine, definitely visit Yamazaru for a wonderful meal and experience. They are open for dinner starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Last weekend, I had a couple of friends over for a Japan themed evening of presentations, movies, food, and fun. We kicked off the evening with beverage and snack sampling from my trip to the Super G Mart. The seaweed snacks were a huge hit along with the sweet potato curls. I introduced the group to the Ramune drink and showed them how to pop the marble down. The Ramune flavored gummy candy were also very good and a nice addition to trying the carbonated drink. Some of my friends enjoyed the gummy over the actual drink due to the sweetness levels. We also tried some alcoholic beverages including Asahi, Sapporo, and a cucumber flavored sake.
After trying many different foods and drinks, I offered a sneak preview of my travel and culture tips for visiting Japan. It was also the first time I was able to wear my full kimono attire. While it was a little too hot to be in a full kimono, it was fun to wear for my friends. I am presenting again during a panel at the Queen City Anime Convention on August 26th at 2 p.m.
We capped the evening by watching the 2001 remastered version of Akira. Originally released in 1988, Akira is known as a groundbreaking movie that pushed anime into a new frontier. I refer to it as the starting point of modern day anime. It is an intensive psychological thriller and an anime masterpiece. The movie is not for the faint of heart, but certainly one to add to your watch list.