Azuma Sushi & Teppan – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Unfulfilled promise, unrealized potential, what should have been, what could have been–these are among the most tragic sentiments of any vernacular. For the most part, those were also the sentiments echoing through our minds while and after we dined in one of the Duke City’s most serene and attractive Japanese restaurant settings.

We should have known better. Azuma is owned by the same gentleman who owns Albuquerque’s two China Star buffets, the Sam’s Club (with apologies to the Walton family) of Chinese buffets. China Star features sprawling troughs of nearly every conceivable Chinese food item in existence at a ridiculously low price that speaks volumes about the quality of the food. Azuma is “eye candy,” a beautiful establishment that may leave you agape at the realization it once housed a Black Eyed Pea restaurant. Unfortunately, as with many gorgeous women, attractive packaging doesn’t always translate to inner beauty, or in the case of Azuma, great food.

Our meal started off in grand fashion with a leafy salad graced by an orange ginger dressing my dining companions and I agreed was indeed something special. It melded sweet, savory and tangy flavors in a harmonious fashion that enlivened a fairly typical lunch salad. The downward spiral began with what was supposed to be miso soup, but which was more reminiscent of a slightly better version of the broth hospital patients are served after surgery.

Even more disappointing, albeit masterfully crafted and lovely to look at, was the sushi. In his typical cut-to-the-chase manner, my friend Bill Resnik described the “crazy roll” as “starting off really well, but never finishing the job.” What a perfect assessment! With our first bite of this tuna based maki style roll, we were both pleasantly surprised with the sudden burst of flavor combinations, but the more our taste buds did their job of flavor discernment, our surprise turned to disenchantment. The unrealized potential of the crazy roll was followed by sheer boredom with the caterpillar roll, an avocado imbued sushi whose green patina must be the color of envy for much better caterpillar rolls served elsewhere.

The most crushing blow, however, was when the seared tuna salad Bill and I each ordered arrived sans any searing. While neither of us disdains raw tuna there’s just something about a little searing that goes a long way. Worse, the salad was comprised primarily of iceberg lettuce, an ordinary lettuce to accompany an ordinary tuna. Our friend Mike Muller had salmon which he indicated wasn’t even as good as served at Pappadeux. Coulda, shoulda, woulda–maybe Azuma just can’t!

Azuma Sushi & Teppan
4701 San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 880-9800

LATEST VISIT: 10 February 2005
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: *
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Orange Ginger Salad Dressing

Azuma Sushi Teppan on Urbanspoon

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,100 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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5 Comments on “Azuma Sushi & Teppan – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. My husband and I eat at Azuma at least once a month and have never hand any problems. It is one of our favorite restaurants and we never leave here hungry. The miso soup is simple and flavorful along with the salad and entree.

  2. The rice was ok, I say ok…the rest….I would have to concur with other reviews I just read…better luck azuma

  3. Aah So….I leaped before I looked and didn’t check for a review!

    Gil’s intro described Azuma to a T. It is a very nice…exceptional….setting in contrast to many places that move in to a old tire store and do little more than sweep the floor, while taking out one fluorescent tube to create a relaxing or romantic mood. Ya ya, some say it should be all about “The Food”, but even I take my dirty socks off the table when I occasionally do the chef thing with some Bush’s Beans (infused with green chili(sic) from my stash) con fried, diced Spamettes with a buttered English Muffin accompaniment.

    For mid-week dinner, I’d say there was a fair gathering of folk.

    Yes, my particular salad was tasty and I’d add, served almost as a sorbet. Alas, the miso was a bit tepid and well…lackluster.

    I hadn’t been before and specifically came for the Shrimp Tempura (albeit a dish of Portuguese/Spanish origin) at what seemed a reasonable price. My preferred haunt for 10(?) years has been Mr. Tokyo, but it is way on the other side of town at ‘Monty’/JT and periodically I mistakenly search elsewhere to be…let’s say….cosmopolitan.

    Azuma’s presentation is fine. Indeed, the veggies are quite generous for those of us with bird-like appetites. While nevertheless making the dish a good value for the price, over time that is overcome, IMHO, per the batter more likely getting tepid and wimpy/soggy. For the most part, shrimp is shrimp….as I wrote that I wondered if we are not overfed on them, dulling our appreciation of what used to be a bit of a delicacy?
    Alas, and while I realize we all have our unique ’recipes’, the dipping sauce, quite frankly, left quite a lot to be desired.

    The pour of a plum wine was fine.

    I’ll give an A plus to my waitman for not being effusive ala wanting to be BFF, but he could’ve been a tad more “there”. A plus also!!!! for not asking if I wanted ’change’ seeing my cash sticking out of the folder.

    Seated by the Sushi bar….and while not an expert….I did espy some of their creations and found them rather artistically creative!

    Bottom line: While nicely appointed albeit not as lavish and for its similar, and my size, presentation, the few extra miles for $9.95 at Mr. Tokyo‘s….is AAA for me, especially when eating out just about daily…LOL Sure wish Mr. Tokyo would bring his sabrosa and reasonably priced dishes more westerly!

  4. Ummmm…no. I don’t understand why somewhere like this is constantly crowded. We’ve been three times now, and each time we left disappointed. Subpar sushi. Below average teppan grill cooking. Sloooooowww service. Recommendation to avoid.

  5. I’ve eaten at the Teppan grill side and have never been disappointed with the food. The service could improve — there is a woman in particular who seems to hover around the left-back area of the Teppan side and she’s very pushy and rude. Everyone at the table with us ordered the same preparation of chicken and she nearly exploded when a few of us switched seats. Another time, we went to enjoy some “sake bombs” (Saporro beer with a ‘shot’ of sake dropped into the glass and then put down in one drink) and appetizers and they seemed like they were very upset we weren’t going to need the grill chef but we were using a table. I haven’t tried the sushi, and maybe I won’t after reading your review. But right now, as of July 2009, it’s been almost 4 years since you last visited. A few of your readers might like an update and hopefully the experience will have improved over that time.

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