Ahh! Sushi – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2015)

Ahh Sushi in Rio Rancho
Ahh Sushi in Rio Rancho

The year was 1997. Recently thawed from a thirty year cryogenic state, Dr. Evil addressed the United Nations about his diabolical scheme to hold the world ransom: “ In a little while you’ll notice that the Kreplachistani warhead has gone missing. If you want it back, you’re going to have to pay me…one million dollars.” After the United Nations officials erupted in laughter, Dr. Evil quickly corrected himself “sorry…one hundred billion dollars.”

The interior of Ahh Sushi
The interior of Ahh Sushi

When our mere pittance of a bill arrived after my friends Paul, Bill, Fred and I had polished off a boatload of all-you-can-eat sushi at Ahh! Sushi, the 1997 movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, quickly came to mind. Considering all we had eaten, we half expected an evil sushi chef to come out from behind the curtain and say “sorry…one thousand dollars.” We didn’t add up what the sushi would have cost had we not availed ourselves of the all-you-can-eat offering, but suffice to say, we ate our money’s worth and then some.

Miso Soup

The only sticker shock visitors to Ahh Sushi in Rio Rancho receive is shock (and maybe a little bit of awe, too) at how inexpensive all you can eat can be. I won’t list the cost for fear the owner will read this review and figure out he’s not charging enough. Now, the natural inclination of skeptics reading this is to assume the quality of Ahh Sushi’s sushi is comparable to the inedible sushi you find in grocery stores or all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets. At Ahh Sushi, there is no correlation between cost and quality—for just a little more than you’d pay for a couple Happy Meals, you’ll partake of surprisingly high quality and absolutely delicious sushi.

Salad with ginger-teriyaki dressing
Salad with ginger-teriyaki dressing

With your meal, you’ll also receive your choice of miso soup or salad, and as Ronco’s famous pitchman Ron Popeil would say, “and that’s not all.” With your ginsu knives….er, sushi, you’ll also get your choice of an appetizer. If you’re with a group and if not overwhelmed with dine-in traffic, the accommodating kitchen might even prepare a Sampler Platter: egg rolls, tempura shrimp and vegetables, dumplings and onion rings. The tempura shrimp and vegetables are excellent, comparable in quality and flavor to the tempura at Mr. Tokyo, a Duke City standard-bearer for tempura. Served with a sweet-savory dipping sauce, the crispy, fresh vegetables are lightly sheathed in a crispy tempura batter that allows the vegetables and shrimp to shine.

 Sampler Platter: Egg Rolls, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables, Dumplings, Onion Rings
Sampler Platter: Egg Rolls, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables, Dumplings, Onion Rings

The all-you-can-eat sushi is served daily for lunch only from 11:30AM to 3:00PM. You can eschew the all-you-can eat offering and select from among some fifty specialty rolls, not all of which are available on the sushi buffet. Contrary to some sushi buffets in which offerings are limited to modified California rolls, Ahh Sushi’s buffet includes some terrific and addictive offerings: Crunchy Roll, Fried Philadelphia Roll, Green Chile Roll, Green Salmon Roll, Santa Fe Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, Spider Roll and more. Nigiri sushi (sliced raw fish with a molded ball of rice underneath) is not part of the all-you-can-eat menu.

Tuna roll, Santa Fe roll with wasabi and ginger
Tuna roll, Santa Fe roll with wasabi and ginger

There are some definite winners in the line-up. The Santa Fe Roll (crab, cucumber, cream cheese, shrimp tempura and green chili (sic) tempura topped with all tuna and sauced with spicy mayo, Sriracha chili and teriyaki) is terrific, a synthesis of flavors that go very well together. A commonality among the spicy rolls is spiciness (go figure). The spicy tuna roll brings the heat with it at no sacrifice to taste. The green chile on its eponymous roll is incendiary enough to make New Mexicans proud. Ahh Sushi doesn’t scrimp on seafood and overindulge on rice. The green salmon roll (salmon, seaweed salad mix an crab stick all wrapped with cucumber wrap) includes a generous amount of salmon.

Boatloads of sushi at our table

Rio Rancho’s Ahh Sushi opened in September, 2013, two years after its elder sibling opened at the Riverside Plaza just north of Montaño on Coors. As with its scion, the Rio Rancho instantiation is sports friendly with flat screen televisions positioned for ESPN viewing. Framed shirts signed by Dallas Cowboys’ hall-of-fame players Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith hang on separate walls, but the restaurant will serve everyone–even New York Giants fans. Overall, Ahh! Sushi isn’t much on ambiance, but the focus of the highly regarded restaurants at the small, age-worn strip mall (which includes the legendary Namaste and Rub-N-Wood Barbecue) in which it resides is on great food, not ambiance.

Spicy Tuna Roll, Green Chile Roll, New Mexico Roll

My friends, especially Bill who visits Ahh Sushi so often his mail is being delivered there, find all the ambiance they need in the feminine pulchritude serving their meals, especially when the vivacious Monique Candelaria is on call (Mondays). If the WWE’s Bella Twins need a triplet for their act, they should call on the alluring brunette…not that the stunning Monique hasn’t had several casting calls. She’s been in a number of movies as well as on Breaking Bad. Monique has got an Academy Award-winning smile and is as gregarious as can be. There’s no one in Albuquerque who delivers sushi better than she does.

The vivacious Monique Candelaria. Someday we'll say we knew her back when...
The vivacious Monique Candelaria. Someday we’ll say we knew her back when…

The interjection “Ahh” is used to convey understanding or realization as in “ahh, this is great sushi.” It’s an interjection heard often at All! All Out Sushi.

Ahh! Sushi
1520 Deborah Road, S.E.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 20 January 2014
1st VISIT: 14 October 2013
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: All-You-Can Eat Sushi, Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables, Miso Soup

Ahh's Sushi Rio! on Urbanspoon

4 thoughts on “Ahh! Sushi – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2015)

  1. Have wanted to visit since I read Gils review. Finally made the short trip up from Corrales yesterday for a late lunch with a friend. We shared the Sashimi boat. Excellent quality and value.

    On another note, sad to be reminded that the Relish location that occupied this space previously had to close. Really miss having them close by.

  2. I have been to ahh sushi several times. The location on Coors offers all you can eat sushi as well and offers a sushi boat that has a good mix of sashimi and nigiri for two. The price is right, great quality, and the cuts of fish are generous. That all adds up to repeat business in my book. I work at Intel and have happily taken the drive there many times, 20 at least to get either the boat or ayce sushi. The new location in Rio Rancho offers a special discount for Intel employees which is so low that I have always left a 50% tip out of pure guilt. Yes Gil, I do have a conscience. When you go, I highly recommend the all you can eat sushi. The menu is limited to specific rolls, but you will definitely get your monies worth. My favorites are the shrimp caterpillar roll and the Santa Fe roll which offer perfect blending of flavors. Stay away from the fried Philidelphia Roll which sounds good in theory but comes off a little bland in comparison. Go hungry leave happy.

  3. I have been to the Rio Rancho location twice, and the location at the Montanyo plaza a few times as well. I think the quality of the rolls are excellent, and for an AYCE, the value is amazing. While the AYCE is an unbelievable deal, don’t compare the rolls here that you would get a traditional buffet (Hong Kong, Lin’s ..etc) . I think the rolls here are excellent quality; I have paid $7-8 a roll at other pure Sushi restaurants around town to get a similar roll. Both locations focus on the food, so don’t expect the atmosphere or décor to be anything like Azuma, but if you want some great rolls for lunch, and your hungry without breaking the bank, you should try it here sometime.

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