Despite my having gone to Charleston this past weekend for a wedding, I still managed to check off a new restaurant-slash-nightlife vibe in the Queen City before I left. If you read my article last week, you may remember I decided that my summer bucket list was going to be focused on eating my way through the Q.C.
We were both sick, but my sweetie pie still suggested we plan a date night before the weekend's festivities. *Swoons* Can we say #mcm? We often play the, "Where do you want to go? No, where do you want to go?" game that looks something like the scene out of The Notebook when Ryan Gosling is begging Rachel McAdams what she wants — heart-wrenching, I know. But this time, I asked him to just pick the spot.
An hour before he was going to pick me up, he asked if I was open to O-Ku Sushi. Um, anyone who knows me and my mom knows that we were probably Japanese in another life. In other words, I responded with what was essentially, "I do."
Located in the Atherton Mill shopping center in South End, O-Ku Sushi opened in September of 2016. My goodness, I still can't believe I hadn't eaten there yet! Per usual, I went to straight to the website to look at the menu. Currently, there are two other locations in Charleston and Atlanta, but three more are on the way: Washington, D.C., Raleigh and Nashville.
Below the locations, there was a blurb that read: O-Ku Sushi celebrates authentic Asian cuisine with a southern approach through a menu that focuses on unique ingredients and sophisticated presentations. Suddenly I remembered looking at the menu before and having the convo about going to try it a few months prior – a single piece of nigiri?
We went late enough that we didn't have to worry too much about parking, thank goodness. Upon entry, we immediately noticed the dim lighting and décor. It could've been the sinus pressure, but it almost felt like we were walking into a forest – at least I can say there were branch-like accents that stuck out of the columns in front of us.
As soon as we sat down we grabbed our menus. (I almost had to pull out my geriatric moves and turn on my flash because of the low lighting. #awkward) I'm not going to lie, we have the tendency to be indecisive when it comes to narrowing down our choices when the menu is fairly large. We even asked for suggestions from our waiter and were that couple that didn't even take his advice. *insert awkward giggle*
What we did know is that we wanted sake. Hell, I needed sake to take my mind off the fact that my head felt larger than life due to a sinus infection. Each of us got a 6 oz. bottle of Snow Maiden sake and that was plenty – I wouldn't suggest getting the bottle at these price points unless you have a larger party.
After maybe three trips back to the table, we were finally ready to place an order:
South End Shrimp: Apparently, this chef specialty is a local favorite.
Lobster Temaki: I told y'all I love me some lobstah!
Yellowtail nigiri and tuna nigiri: Self-explanatory, but it's worth noting the sushi chef adds a tiny deco or accoutrement on top of the nigiri – so cute!
Salmon and lemon roll: A light and refreshing makimono roll.
At the conclusion of our meals, I love to sit back and chat about whether or not a restaurant met our expectations. No, we're not food critics. However, we each love and appreciate food enough that we probably should be. I'll speak for myself when I say, the food was good. That's not to say there was anything wrong or, at the other extreme, anything that I'd die for – but I must note, the fresh fish that they're known for is some of the best I've ever had.
Nevertheless, I would argue, O-Ku Sushi is more of a place I would go for an "experience." The wait staff was attentive and polite. The space itself cultivates a good vibe and energy that lends itself to great conversation. There are a multitude of menu options, including omakase — a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef that's described as an "artistic and creative multi-course tasting." (Weighing in at $100 per person, I'd save that for a super special occasion.)
Overall, O-Ku Sushi didn't disappoint. As Shirley Nash of Cornelius would say, I still left feeling "fat and sassy." On to the next dining/date night/nightlife experience.