Monday, July 16, 2012

Imperial Koi

Strip mall sushi restaurants are hit or miss. Sometimes, you’re better off just hitting up the fro-yo place next door, but other times, like my recent visit to Imperial Koi in Greensboro, you’re in for a grand surprise. Located in a nearly vacant complex above Pieworks (a childhood favorite), Imperial Koi’s inconspicuous home doesn’t quite lure you in. The front door is on the second floor and behind the building, but once you arrive at (find) the entrance, the water fountain and garden provide a relaxing, Zen atmosphere. Inside, neon lighting welcomes you to a vivid world of sushi and other Asian flavors.

Kirin Ichiban and Ravenswood Zinfandel were tasty sips while my dining partner and I perused the menu. Much reading is always required at a sushi restaurant; this was no exception. Ample descriptions of elegant yet funky rolls – one I spotted included fried banana! – filled the pages. My dining partner opted for a special roll – always a wise choice, as chefs put a lot of time and preparation into making them extra “special.” Spicy crab, shrimp tempura and cucumber fill a rice roll, topped with eel and avocado, among drizzles of eel sauce. A beautiful purple flower adorned the plate, and I was tempted to put it in my hair, but decided I’d save my guest the embarrassment. (Looking at this photo now, the eel sauce creepily makes this look too much like a spider. I don’t like spiders.)