Akahana Asian Bistro, Bar, and Sushi finally opened Sunday in the former location of Liu Liu’s in Baxter Village. Originally Akahana was scheduled to open in March. There is a second location in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte that has been open for several years and seems to get pretty mixed reviews.
A good deal of remodeling has been done inside and not much about the design resembles the former Liu Liu’s. A large bar has been built towards the rear of the restaurant near the bathrooms. The vibe of the space is much more trendy, urban, and exciting. A large work station runs along the right side of the restaurant where sushi chefs were hard at work on our visit.
We choose to eat outside on the covered patio. This is such a wonderful space, some of the best outdoor seating in Baxter, but it was a little barren. They definitely put all their money into the indoor design and the outdoor design was a little lacking. Hopefully they plan to spruce it up over time.
The menu at Akahana is very expansive and they serve Chinese, Japenese, Thai, Sushi, and Hibachi. There are large selections of sushi, salads, Vietnamese soups, noodle dishes, stir-fries, curries- you name it.
We started our meal with a Sapporo on draught and the Fishbowl, one of their specialty cocktails made with Cruzan Coconut Rum, Vodka, Blue Curacao, and Pineapple juice. The first half of the drink was really good, but this is not a drink to sip slowly on a hot day. It had lots of ice which melted, leaving the second half of the drink watered down and tasteless.
Other specialty drinks include the Akahana Zombi with Bacardi Rum, Meyers Rum + Lime, topped with mango and lychee juice and the Aerial made with Chambord Raspberry Liquer topped with Zipang Sparkling Sake.
The sushi list is extensive, including a section of vegetarian rolls and all sushi is Buy One, Get One Half Off. (Kind of sucks if you want 1 roll, but great if you’re going just to pig out on sushi.) We tried the Wasabi Roll and the Snap Dragon Roll ($13) which consisted of Tempura shrimp wrapped with mango and salmon, topped with fruity sauce and sweet sauce. I thought they both fell into the “good sushi” category and I would order them again.
We tried a variety of foods off the menu and found the food to be pretty good. I never expect a restaurant that has a menu the size of an encyclopedia to turn out truly fantastic food that I will remember for the rest of my life. Although, The Cowfish does a pretty good job of it.
My daughter ordered the soft egg noodles (Mi Xao Mem) with vegetables- I thought it was so-so, but she seemed to enjoy it.
My son had the Curry Udon (thick Japanese noodles) with Chicken. This was my favorite. Loved the texture of the udon noodles and the sauce had that really sweet, yet spicy combination that I love. And I’m a sucker for coconut milk. It’s just so delicious.
My choice was the Spicy Basil Stir-fry with Beef. And spicy it was. What I thought were slices of bell pepper were actually huge slices of jalapeno. I loved it though and the sauce also had that sweet/spicy contrast which really complemented the beef. The flavor of the fresh basil really came through and overall I thought it was a very good dish, definitely something I would order again.
The chicken Pad Thai was very unremarkable in flavor and I don’t think I’d order it again.
I am sure we will be back to Akahana many times as there are still many things to try on the menu and we love the location.
They have even placed a few tables directly in front of the restaurant- perfect for people watching along Market St. And how nice to be able to stroll next door to the newly opened TCBY for a little dessert!
Akahana Asian Bistro
940 Market St, Fort Mill SC
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