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sushi tour: akiyama

Here it is at last, the final installation of our Boulder Sushi Tour series! I wish I could say we ended on a high note, but… well – read on.

akiyama of gunbarrel (boulder)

It’s been a good six weeks of sushi touring in the lovely landlocked city of Boulder, Colorado. People are always astonished at the quality of the fish considering the long drive to get to the ocean from here. They’d be even more surprised to learn how much fresh fish is flown in daily. The supply is there because the demand is there. We decided our final sushi restaurant to try would be Akiyama in northeastern Boulder.

the interior

The restaurant interior is a combination of traditional and modern with plentiful sushi bar and table seating. We chose to sit at the bar. Immediately the feel of the head sushi chef was off. He didn’t strike us as a typical (or even atypical) sushi chef. I have never been served sushi by someone wearing plastic food service gloves. As Jeremy and I were groping around the floor to find our eyeballs after they had popped out of our heads in shock at the prices on the menu, we were given starter salads.

cucumber and krab (surimi) salad

And we thought Kasa was expensive. This wasn’t expensive, it was borderline ridiculous. Gunbarrel isn’t exactly the high rent district that Pearl Street is either. What was up with that? We resigned ourselves to a moderate sampling of sashimi, a few rolls, and some nigiri. Akiyama doesn’t serve ama ebi (raw sweet shrimp). Things were a little suspect already…

the sashimi assortment: skimpy on sashimi, heavy on cheap fluffy crap

Jeremy summed up our reaction to the sashimi assortment pretty well, “He should have been ashamed and embarrassed to hand us that plate.” I’m sorry, but krab (fake crab) and tamago do not count as pieces of sashimi. Where every other place we’ve been has given us at least 3 generous pieces of hamachi in their sashimi assortments, these blokes deemed it acceptable to take one thin slice and cut it in half?! The maguro was wrapped in the form of a rose. No one does that with good quality maguro. When I unraveled a piece it looked like my dog had chewed on it and spat it back out. I thought sushi chefs were trained to use a knife!? It was pathetic really, the meager quantities all gussied up with fanned slices of cucumber and dribs and drabs of avocado, fish roe, and egg omelet. This was lame. It was insulting.

the juju roll: salmon, cucumber, avocado, eel, and masago

The JuJu roll was nothing special – perhaps a bit heavy on the sweet side and it cost about double what it was really worth. I also ordered a vegetable roll which was uninspired with shitake mushrooms, cucumbers, gobo… I’ve had much better vegetable rolls elsewhere.

autumn tempura roll

The autumn tempura roll was on the specials menu. I just remember there was avocado and crab, but it wasn’t crab, it was krab. Those bastards list crab everywhere on their fricking menu and what they really use is surimi – fake crab or krab. That’s so slimy. I think it’s incredibly dishonest, but it seems to fall in line with the general practice of false advertising at this place. The roll was served on a plate with lots of sauces swizzled about, but it was unremarkable and at $12 you could call it dreadfully disappointing. There was supposed to be white tuna in there, but… I couldn’t tell it was there at all.

wasabi tobiko with quail egg – hard to screw up

My final order was wasabi tobiko with quail egg, which was actually pretty good. Perhaps that is because I was prepared to be annoyed after all of the previous WTFs? After I shot the tobiko, the chef posed and said I could shoot him too. I declined. When I’m shooting and random people want me to take a picture of them for no reason other than their ego, I don’t. Similar to my reaction to folks who ask me to link to their blogs. I don’t.

So, we were happy to get out of Akiyama because we both felt lied to and violated. How a place that serves such average and even below average sushi can charge prices so far beyond the Good sushi joints in Boulder is a mystery to me. Akiyama is big on foofy garnishes and skimpy on the fish. The quality of the fish was not too bad, I think. It’s hard to tell when all you get is one bite’s worth. Instead of feeling satisfied, I felt angry. To rank Akiyama last in our sushi tour would be an insult to the other sushi bars on the list. What a complete ripoff. DON’T EAT HERE unless you are heavily drugged and have money to burn. You have choices. Use the force, Luke.

6525 Gunpark Dr. #330
Boulder, CO 80301

July 17, 2008
$65.44 (including tax, not tip) for two diners
Rating: 65/100 (D)

And the final sushi rankings:
1) Sushi Tora
2) Amu Sake Bar and Restaurant
3) Ai Sushi and Steak
4) Kasa Sushi

75) Akiyama

18 nibbles at “sushi tour: akiyama”

  1. manggy says:

    Oh no, that’s really dreadful. It kind of reminds me of Kitchen Nightmares. You’re appropriately very Ramsay-ish, lol. The only thing that’s missing is the deluge of expletives. Makes me think: when you sit at the bar, the chef always knows you are taking pictures. Maybe he thought he was impressing you, prettying up the maguro and drizzling sauces a la dessert. All flash. What the management needs is a trip to another sushi restaurant and order their more reasonably priced fare and see/ taste the difference.
    (By the way, that place looks fairly lonely. Nearing its demise, I see?)

  2. April in CT says:

    What a craptastic experience! I absolutely loathe spending hard earned money on a sub-par meal. Argh!

    I think a visit to #1 on the list is in order to make y’all feel better.

  3. Mrs Ergul says:

    WTF. Another place to condemn! I feel what you’re feeling while I read thru! Rippers, I abhor them, they think they are serving idiots who can’t what’s good and what’s bad! Just like what happen when we went to a lousy sushi place. Me & my husband couldn’t take more than 1 slice. The worst thing is people can’t tell that it is really bad! Our friends were happily gobbling it all down! What a shame! I totally know how you feel!

  4. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    What a shame, when restaurants disappoint. At least I know where to avoid for sushi if I ever find myself in Boulder! :)

  5. peabody says:

    Sure, torture me with the contraband.

  6. Lan says:

    ok, so despite how crappy the food tasted, your pictures are still beautiful.

  7. Mollie says:

    That is so disappointing! Bastards.

    Saw your reply – the crookneck/zuch quiche was so tasty. I had no idea what a crookneck was either, but I planted my garden so late it was the only yellow squash I could find and figured what the hell. Turns out it’s kind of in between a summer and winter squash and if you roast it until you get crispy edges it’s about the most fantastic thing you could imagine. Really sweet finish like a winter squash without being as heavy. Really intersting. I have about 489,830,490 about ready to be ripe if you feel like coming to pick!

  8. Helen says:

    Oh God, what a nightmare! I did feel a little suspicious when I read the name of the place – sushi bar and grill? How do sushi bar and then grill go together? There is nothing worse than eating at a restaurant where they have no problems with taking the p*ss out of you.

  9. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    I’m curious, was the place empty? Has it been open long? Once people start comparing it with other places in town, won’t it affect their business?
    I don’t understand how some restaurant owners thing, or what they think with. I’m sorry you had such a horrible and expensive meal.

  10. Ann says:

    I hate it when restaurants insult me with crappy food dressed up like a cheap trollop… and I hate it even more when they lie about it. Your photos are fantastic, though, and clearly do the chef’s food far more justice than it deserves.

  11. dhanggit says:

    oh my goodness thank you for making my day..this sushi tour is definitely fantastic your talent brought in photography brought out the best in these dishes..yum..i love the autumn tempura roll…i always find japanese restaurant overcharge their prices..probably because the ingredients were imported from japan where everything is expensive??

  12. Leslie says:

    I would never ask you to link to my blog – it would be a black mark on your beautiful site! But I did link to you cuz frankly, my site needs all the “coolness” it can get!!

    I know it sucks to get ripped off at crappy resturants, but as a mom of two little ones sometimes I think I would happily pay $100 to eat a bowl of Cherrios at a restuarant if that meant I could eat in peace and quiet without someone trying to pick off my plate, kick me under the table, or whine about spilled juice.

    Anyway, I’m having so much fun reading your posts – your passion is inspiring and infectious – love it!

  13. Chuck says:

    What is this krab you speak of? How freakin’ lame! Despite the bad experience, your pictures still make the sushi look good. I *chuckled* when you declined to shoot the chef. Maybe you should have a shot him with something else besides your camera!

  14. FlexibleKnits says:

    That is a shame. We have one sushi place where I live and I am thankful that it is good. By the way, the food may have been bad, but your pictures are wonderful! Krab doesn’t deserve to be photographed so well.

  15. Manisha says:

    You shouldn’t have taken such fabulous pictures. Just saying…

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I love that you ranked 75!

  17. diana banana says:

    ha ha, very funny joke. you got supermarket sushi, put some unappetizing clear goo-glaze on it and photographed it, right? (RIGHT?!?)

    the photos look gorgeous as always, but you can’t hide the fact that the sushi looks well….disappointing. hopefully this place goes out of business soon.

  18. jenyu says:

    Mark – well, the deluge is kept under control here since it *is* a public blog ;) I’m not sure how the business is… We had to go early b/c it was right after my radiation treatment was over… Perhaps they fill up at night, but with what stupid people – I’m not sure ;)

    April – I hear ya, sistah!

    Mrs. E – yeah, nothing like being had… hate that feeling. It always makes you wonder how these places stay in business as long as they do? They just keep fooling people who don’t know better?? ;)

    Laura – my dear, if you show up in Boulder, I will be happy to lead you to several excellent choices :)

    Peabody – oooooh, poor Peabody! I’m sorry :( The tour has at least ended. And I have to say that it is only fair play since you torture me with all of that AMAZING PNW seafood *drool*.

    Lan – thanks :) The food LOOKED good, but… meh on the inside.

    Mollie – ooooh, that sounds so lovely. I just love the name “crookneck” :) I’m jealous of your garden, dear. *sigh*

    Helen – actually, a lot of places are called sushi bar and grill (sushi bar, and then they grill seafood in japanese style too). The suspicious part was the weird chef who didn’t act very sushi-chefish… Craptastic, lemme tell ya ;)

    Joanne – it was pretty empty, but we arrived early (just because we went right after my radiation appt). It’s been open for at least 2 years, but I am expecting it should close like… yesterday! ;) Well, gladly it was our last meal there and we know better now :)

    Ann – “cheap trollop” is a wonderful way to describe it!

    Dhanggit – well, this place was particularly bad… Most sushi *is* expensive by normal food standards, but this place was so overpriced and much worse quality that other places in town. I doubt they will last much longer. A good taqueria in its place would serve the population well :)

    Leslie – oh no no no! Don’t say that! I just meant people who shop around on the blogosphere and rudely cast about trying to get links without ever actually establishing a rapport with the blogger. Besides, it takes me months to update my blogroll and in that time I usually discover about 50 more blogs I love (and subscribe to). It sounds like you need someone to take you out to dinner while a babysitter takes care of the kids :) Kids are so much work. I honestly don’t know how moms (and some dads) do it! You get my admiration and awe :)

    Chuck – oh the ever ubiquitous Krab! ;) Good to see you coming up for air, Chuck. FG must be taking up all of your time these days. Don’t forget to take a break for yourself and HB. xxoo

    FlexibleKnits – great that you have at least one good place (just one is all you need!). Thanks :)

    Manisha – ha ha ha!

    Elizabeth – yeah, how do express suckage in ranking? :)

    Diana Banana – yup, it was totally lame and disappointing. *sigh* It makes me angry because I think they’re ripping everyone off, not just us.

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