Monday, July 2, 2012

Atami Steak and Sushi

Atami Steak and Sushi opened a few years back as the only alternative to Haiku, a busy sushi restaurant that featured 2 hibatchi tables and moderate to low quality sushi.  I liked Haiku because it was also the only restaurant featuring Korean food at the time.  However times have changed. Haiku is no longer in business and has either changed hands or transformed into Kobe, which I haven't yet tried, and there are now 3 other Korean specialty restaurants in town. And another competitor that opened soon after Atami, Teriyaki Park, opened and closed in the time Atami has remained opened.
If you're in College Station, you can't miss the giant hole in the ground along University Drive. If you haven't been here for awhile you might be surprised to find fish and water plants in the fountain.
Atami started a bit rough. We visited them the first month they were open and I gave them a luke warm review on Trip Advisor.  However they've improved significantly over the years. They've even expanded to the South College Station restaurant Azure Fusion Bistro and Sake (next door to Luigi's at Highway 6 North and Rock Prairie Drive). [I've been informed that's not entirely true.]

I have always enjoyed the decor at Atami and I remember my earlier review stated it was the best thing about the restaurant.  We went back last night and there was nobody there, which is unusual.  I'm told that many people are taking the entire week off for Fourth of July.  I don't know about that, but did notice few people out on a gorgeously cool evening.  Atami is one of the few places that also offers outdoor dining.

They offer both hibachi/teppanyaki and sushi. If you request hibachi they seat you in another room along one of the grills. I don't like this style of dining so we sat in the regular dining or sushi area, pictured above. Again, normally they'd be packed but this an unusually quiet week here in B/CS.

Bento boxes and sushi meals are available but my group elected to eat completely ala carte. We started with soup and salad.  These are pretty typical for sushi restaurants. I'm a big fan of the ginger dressing.

Each of us also ordered sushi rolls.  The Lovely Spouse also ordered the beef tataki, which I forgot to photograph.  It was lightly seared beef, heavily seasoned with sesame seeds served over a daikon salad. I thought it was quite tasty. Usually they serve it with lightly grilled onions. 

I ordered the Tiger Eye Roll.  There's a jalapeno in there but it only adds a bit of heat. The outer roll is wrapped in rice paper instead of nori. The inner roll is wrapped with nori.

The Lovely Spouse ordered the chef's special Triple Tuna Roll.  This actually was quite nice with a hot chili oil and wasabi tamago.  In my opinion this should be added to the regular menu.  It was nicely balanced and delicious.
A friend who joined us always gets the Fahrenheit Roll.  It's slightly too hot for me, and he always gets it extra spicy with extra jalapenos added.  It also has spicy tuna and a wasabi mayonaise. 
In my experience Atami is consistently good, with some of the best quality fish in town.  The service can be slow at times, but that usually is a function of the number of people dining at any given time. The food is quite good and it's also been my experience that they are very good at taking people's food allergies and intolerances into consideration.

Prices are pretty good. Rolls range in price between about $5 - $20.  Handrolls and nigiri are also available.  Soup and salad are about $2 - $3.  Other appetizers range between about $3 - $20. Japanese beers are available for around $4 - $8. The drink menu features some creative variations on the martini. Hibachi is more expensive, at $13 - $33. Other Japanese entrees are available including teriyaki, don bowls, udon and tempura fried items. I recommend their fried squid because they use the tempura batter and it comes out much lighter than at other places.  A kids menu is available. And they have lunch specials.

Will we be back?  Of course!  We eat here about once a month.

Do I recommend Atami?  Of course. I obviously prefer the regular seating but the hibachi is well rated by yelp and urban spoon users as well.

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