Azuma has been a girls' lunch staple for years. In fact, whenever I'm back in my hometown Victoria, it seems my group of girlfriends and I always settle on it for our 'reunion meal.' And we did again last night.
Azuma bought out the store next to their original restaurant last year, tore down the wall in between the two rooms and threw in some swanky leather booths and a big fish tank, among other mini design face-lifts. Upping their game a bit from the old, run-of-the-mill-sushi-restaurant decor to more of a "lounge" feel. Plus, they needed the extra room - no fail, at any hour, this place is packed.
Regardless of interior decor or size, though, what keeps us coming back (even when using chopsticks is a struggle, as my dear pal Hayl demonstrated above) is a few gems we've discovered on the menu and have been loving for years.
One, is the egg drop soup. Azuma used to only offer this stuff at lunch, which was always a disappointment at dinner when I'd pretend to forget about this rule and order it anyways, just in case they had changed their minds. They never had. Until now. There's nothing insanely special or original about Azuma's soup, it's just that most sushi restaurants don't offer it, I've found. And I love me some egg drop soup. It's a great light starter to a lunch or dinnertime meal.
Others love their egg drop soup with such a ridiculous amount of pepper that it needed to be photographed...
...But hey, to each their own, I suppose.
Second on the list is the bowl of rice and steak - or, as they call it on the menu, 'sesame' - sauce they offer. This is a must-order. No ifs, ands or buts. It's like, insanely, insanely good. So good that I always order an extra side of the sauce with it (are you surprised?) It's also, like, two dollars. If I had no money, I'd eat this and this alone for lunch every day (so what I'm trying to say is... expect to see me at a table-for-one around lunchtime today?)
This sauce is NUTS. Made from ground sesame seeds, it's creamy and rich and flavourful and oh-so-salty. It's the perfect hangover cure. It's the perfect PMS cure. And it's best for when you want to wake up the next morning with a nice bloated, puffy face!
(Can't even imagine the sodium content of this heavenly formula; never, ever want to know).
But, take it from me: totally, totally worth it.
The third thing on my list of Azuma favourites is their sashimi. Now, I've had some sketchy sashimi in my life, and it's never been from this restaurant. In fact, theirs was the first sashimi I ever fell in love with. Spicy tuna, to be exact (which is, essentially, tuna sashimi served with a side - or in my case, two - of spicy mayo).
Buttery and ice-cold - but never, ever frozen - their tuna sashimi literally melts in your mouth. It always tastes super-fresh and never fishy. It's just great sashimi, as far as I'm concerned. Have not been served a bad piece here. Plus, the spicy mayo is delicious (you can catch a glimpse of my side of it lurking in the background of these shots).
I opted out of ordering sashimi - I couldn't find anyone to split with me, and a full order to myself is usually too much for me - but went for one of the new rolls they introduced with their renovations, the Sumo Roll, which was tempura prawns, avocado and spicy mayo draped in slices of their salmon and tuna sashimi. I asked for mine to be topped with all tuna, my favourite, but you can see Hayles' roll a few photos up, who went with both and ended up with a much prettier concoction.
Again, soft, light, buttery, awesome sashimi. And some pretty good sushi underneath, too. It was the best of both worlds for me. With a dollop of spicy mayo and a dessert of one of the great little mint-chocolates they serve with the bill to satiate my sweet tooth, I left a happy girl.
I'll be back to Azuma over the break undoubtedly, trying some new stuff (along with my favourites, obv) so I'll keep the sushi pics coming. In the meantime, check it out for a casual shopping-fuel lunch, dinner, or gab-fest with your girlfriends at any hour of the day. If you haven't already, which you probably have if you're from Victoria, but I digress...
615 Yates Street, Victoria, B.C.