When many people think of Japanese food, their thoughts immediately turn to sushi! While it's never cheap, sushi fills that umami craving delivering a shot of rice, seaweed, fish and soy that many people are just addicted to. And lets face it, eating sushi is just a lot of fun, especially when you're doing it with chopsticks. There is a certain ritual that most people have when eating their rolls but as far as I'm concerned, if it makes it into your mouth, we're all good! And thankfully here in the Raleigh-Cary area, we've got two great options for delicious sushi: Sono Restaurant and Yuri Japanese.
Let's start in Cary out on Kildaire Farms Road where Yuri Restaurant sits in the same plaza as Trader Joes. The parking lot here is usually jammed but trust me, Yuri is worth the effort. Out front the place looks totally unassuming but step inside and you'll find a tidy, colorful interior complete with sushi bar, low-slung booths and tatami room. I've mostly done lunch here and Yuri has a bunch of decent options for your noon-time meal! Usually I just go for the bento box with miso soup, ginger salad, chicken katsu, four pieces of California roll and some sashimi.
One thing about Yuri is that they are really tuned into the presentation of their food. When my bento box shows up on the table I barely want to dig in, just enjoying the visual feast in front of me. Yuri's ginger dressing is awesome, I'm not a salad fan but this light, spicy and refreshing marinade makes greens even palatable to me! Take a slice of the katsu which (for me) was chicken deep-fried in panko crumbs, dip it into the plum sauce and yum! And of course Yuri's sushi is top-notch with great rice and firmly rolled for dipping into the soy sauce. Their sashimi is beautiful, pink fatty tuna and more. Service is also very good at Yuri so for $10 or so, you're going to have an awesome meal.
Moving over to Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh you'll find the sultry Sono Restaurant! Part of the Eschelon group, Sono is decked out in black lacquer and crimson, perfect for a date. A small bar out front puts out tasty cocktails and beers while the dining room showcases a large print of a woman sans a shoe along with the sushi bar. Very stylish but I think they need to freshen up the decor a bit. I've been at Sono for several meals and while it's not cheap, the food is very high quality. The sushi rolls here are creative and given playful names like the Screaming O, G-spot and more. I've tried a couple of their fried rolls and while untraditional, they've all been tasty. But my most memorable here was a Chef's dinner on a Monday night. Chef Michael Lee gets wonderfully creative mixing and matching all sorts of ingredients and cuisines, our menu included: sea bass carpaccio, salmon tartare and roe in petite ice cream cones and a delicious beef tongue slider! Paired with some interesting sakes, Sono's Chef dinner's sell out quickly so watch for the email if you're on their newsletter list. I was so impressed with Chef Lee I also was able to catch a dinner he competed in for Fire in the Triangle, which made for an amazing meal.
So if you're not that familiar with Japanese food, try out Yuri or Sono to make sure that you start with some of the best in the Triangle! Both restaurants are great examples of great service, interesting surroundings and fresh interpretations of Japanese food and sushi that should keep you happy. I know that it can be intimidating to try raw sushi, handle chopsticks and deal with an ingredient list that may be unfamiliar but that's a big part of the fun! And if you're a novice to sushi, check out my post on sushi basics and help with the menu. So go go go, Yuri and go go go, Sono! Loves your food, and loves your dining experience, arigato and bon appetit...
Yuri Restaurant 1361 Kildaire Farm Road Cary, NC 27511 919.481.0068
Sono Restaurant 319 Fayetteville Street Raleigh, NC 27601 919.521.5328