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Asahi Kaiten Sushi Bar - Halted.

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We tried this place for dinner (website here). It’s where Nouveau East used to be and is next to Rock Bottom Brewery in the Ballston Mall. I don't know how long ago it opened, but I googled it and see mentions of it from last year. You can sit next to the sushi conveyer belt at the bar or you can sit at a standalone table and order off a menu that has entrees other than sushi. (Side note, we have been to Wasabi Sushi). The sushi bar is a long U shaped bar with two tracks of conveyer belts – one track goes to your left and then it curves around at the end of the bar and doubles back. The sushi chefs behind the bar add plates to the belt every so often. The plates are color coded and range from $2.00 to $4.00, though they’re not labeled with what’s on them. According to their website, they use RFID tags to track how long a plate’s been on the belt.

The plates on the belt had standard selections like shrimp, eel and cucumber roll, spicy tuna, California roll, and a couple of rolls that had an interesting presentation, like a roll made with surimi separated into strands and presented in a circle like a pom pom flower with a cone of wasabi in the middle. Many of the plates had 3 pieces, sometimes 2, sometimes more, depending on the size of the pieces. There were also some signs on the plates for other items outside the $2-$4 price range that I assume you would order individually.

We sat at the bar, and I chose plates from the conveyer belt. (My husband ordered the vegetarian sushi platter off the menu). I had standard rolls like spicy tuna, eel, and various rolls with surimi, seaweed, and other ingredients. Most of my dishes were in the $3.00 range, and my total was $16.00. The rolls I had ranged from fine to very good, and our server was efficient. The sushi chefs also were very friendly. I’d go back again to try more of their menu.

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On a recent dinner, the sushi on the conveyer belt was much wackier than the last time I visited and not in a way that appealed to me (no labels on the dishes but looked like shrimp tempura in a sushi roll with slices of kiwi and strawberries laid along the top, oddly flourescent colored roe and I don't mean the orange roe you normally see, and something that looked like mango slices on another shrimp tempura sushi roll). My edamame was cold, bland, and without any salt sprinkled on top and a summer roll with "crab" stick-lettuce-possibly avocado was on a wasabi mayo sauce with too much wasabi and there was also too much mayo (there might have been more mayo in the roll?). The eel roll and spicy tuna roll were just ok. The tempura fried tunafish (as in cooked tuna) roll drizzled with sauces had an unexpected chunk of cream cheese, and I'm not a fan of cream cheese in sushi.

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My girlfriend and I have ended up at Asahi Kaiten Sushi for dinner twice in the last year, and liked it a lot both times. The fried california roll is outrageously good (if a bit of a traditionalist's nightmare), and the straightforward sushi (e.g., salmon avocado) was perfectly good, if not amazing. The avocado and asparagus salad is one of the best salads I have had at an Asian restaurant; the avocado is ripe, the asparagus is fresh, and the dressing is something sweet and citrus-y. The tuna and avocado salad is quite filling, particularly in light of its price ($10.00), and the wasabi aioli sauce drizzled on it will clear one's sinuses.

The bean curd sushi was not a winner; not bad, just not memorable.

The only downside is that the restaurant is in a mall, and as much as it tries to look dignified, it can't help its surroundings. Also, the restaurant has been virtually empty when we've been there; they must make most of their money off of the lunch crowd.

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