How is it that the Best Japanese in WNC half a dozen years running happens to be owned by a family from China? The Chens, who also own Ichiban and Kanpai Sushi-Thai, must be doing something right, at least by the Xpress readers' measure.
Perhaps it owes to the fact that the focus in this slick little Japanese eatery, blessedly bereft of hibachi grills, is sushi. The hamachi kama is admittedly amazing and the yuzu-miso shrimp is equally delicious. A trip to Wasabi, however, demands a peek at the special sushi menu to see if the restaurant is offering their always-buttery, sexy slivers of toro. Culinary cognoscenti also know that any visit to the restaurant is enhanced by taking a seat at the sushi bar to see what lies fresh and gleaming behind the glass.
While Wasabi features plenty of basics — yes, you may order your spicy tuna with a wakame salad and a miso — a meal with plenty of wow-factor punch can be found here, too. How about a spicy lobster-and-mango roll paired with a sparkling sake from the restaurant's better-than-average list?
Whatever your pleasure, Wasabi manager Kevin Chen insists that the fish is fresh and the service is good. As he dotingly ushers this reporter to a bar stool and proffers a glass of cold, icy water against the heat, he — perhaps purposefully — demonstrates his theory of good restaurant practice. "What's most important, I think, is to take care of the customer when they come in, make them happy — especially right now with the economy so bad." Gesturing to the wall where a row of Xpress Best of WNC awards are hung, he adds, "We really appreciate all of the regular customers supporting us all the time — that's what helps make us the best."
— Mackensy Lunsford