leave your inhibitions at the door
Did I miss something? For all of 2012 up until the presidential election in November, all we ever heard was how the economy was in the toilet. If you believed the candidates, media, and surveys it sounded like there was no hope for a speedy recovery and we’d all have to eat dog food because that’s all we could afford. Now all of a sudden we get three new restaurants opening up in Ann Arbor in the past week or so. And we’re not talking about a shitty Arby’s or Panda Express opening up in a strip mall. We’re talking about three restaurants where a dinner with drinks for two can easily go north of a hundred bucks. The three are Isalita (Mexican street food-inspired), Vellum (contemporary American), and Kuroshio (Asian fusion). Of the three, the one that I was least excited about was Kuroshio. So of course, that’s the first one we visited.
It’s not like I don’t like Asian fusion. I do, but the concept seems so 15 years ago. And the last thing that this town needs is another Asian restaurant. There’s a weird thing going in Ann Arbor where everywhere you turn is a Korean, Indian, Japanese – you name it – eatery. But there aren’t any true, outright French places here. If you exclude pizza places, there are only four or five nicer Italian places here. And outside of Mani, none of them are what I’d truly describe as special. It’s like there’s some white guilt here for having Euro-centric cuisines. Seriously, are there any other cities that have more Korean restaurants than Italian? Outside of Korea?
We went out with the Blood Sucking Lawyers and, since it was last minute, we couldn’t get into the other two places. But, for reasons you’ll soon see, we were able to get a table pretty easily at Kuroshio.
It stands in the space formerly occupied by Champion House, a Japanese steak and sushi place that had been here for twenty years. Apparently, the owners just up and left in the middle of the night without notifying the landlords, leaving a bunch of food and equipment there. In comes a new family and they completely redid the place.
And it’s gorgeous. There are waterfalls, modern furniture, textured bars, lots of windows. It’s really is visually striking.
D’oh!!! As of last Saturday, they didn’t have their liquor license yet. That’s probably why it was easy to get a table. (Thanks for letting us know when we made the reservation.) I suppose they intentionally withheld that information as they guessed it would be a deal-breaker for us and we wouldn’t eat there. And they guessed right. It’s not like we’re a bunch of lushes or anything like that, we just wanted to have a couple of cocktails with friends. OK, we’re probably a bunch of lushes. But apparently we weren’t the only ones that would’ve not eaten there without the booze.
We decided to have a couple appetizers and a few sushi rolls anyway because I was so hungry that I was ready to eat my arm. The waitress was really nice, too, so we felt a little bad about ditching her. Things started off well with the Yellowtail Carpaccio which was not only beautiful, but delicious.
The second app we had was the Spicy Tuna Avocado, which was dragged down by a thick, mayo-like sauce.
The rolls we ordered were:
- Godzilla – crab, tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado (sorry, no pic)
- Jade – which just occured to me is like the sushi version of the appetizer.
- Red Dragon – shrimp tempura, cream cheese, jalapeno, topped with spicy tuna and tempura flakes (sorry, no pic)
The Godzilla roll had wayyyy too much rice. The others were just ok. Now take a look at some of the other items on their menu:
- Gyoza ($10)
- Shrimp cocktail ($12)
- Garden Salad ($10)
- Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce ($10)
- Pineapple BBQ Chicken ($19)
- Rack of Lamb ($33)
- Three different steaks ($26-32)
- Vegetable Stir-fry ($18)
- Jumbo Scallops – 4 of them in Oyster Sauce ($30)
It’s a beautiful place, but it’s hard to judge the quality of the food with so little we ate. But I think they’re expecting people to happily fork over a ton of money for that atmosphere. I’m sorry, but $18 for a vegetable stir-fry and $10 for a garden salad?!?! That’s just plain ridiculous. The economy hasn’t made that much of a recovery.
And what exactly are they fusing? Up and down the menu I saw things that are clearly Chinese, Japanese, or American. But I didn’t see anything that combined cuisines in one dish. Nor did I see any special preparations or innovative ideas. Just about everything on the menu you can get elsewhere at simpler, less-expensive, and more casual restaurants.
I’ve read that this is the family’s first foray into the restaurant business. Unless they create a really special menu to match the beautiful space and to match the crazy prices, this is going to be a painful learning experience for them.