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Aikou in Flemington

h
howchound Apr 24, 2008 01:23 PM

New Japanese place in Flemington - looks to be informal / take out type place. Any idea what they have there / if its any good?

  1. ambrose Apr 24, 2008 02:42 PM

    I thought I knew all the restaurants in Flemington but I've never heard of this one. Where exactly is it?

    Perhaps you could check it out and report back to us.

    9 Replies
    1. re: ambrose
      flourgirl Apr 25, 2008 04:34 AM

      Hi ambrose -

      It's in the Staples shopping center. We haven't tried it yet but we received a flyer with a menu in yesteday's mail. It's really not strictly Japanese. They call it modern asian cuisine and is sprinkled with things like "Thai Spring Rolls" for example, but the menu IS heavy on sushi, sashimi and hand rolls.

      1. re: flourgirl
        ambrose Apr 25, 2008 11:38 AM

        Ha, ha - got my flyer in today's mail. Definitely looks worth trying. I even see some Korean and Malaysian dishes buried in the menu.

        1. re: ambrose
          flourgirl Apr 25, 2008 02:58 PM

          I think it looks worth trying too. I'm going to give it a try for lunch some time in the next few weeks.

          1. re: flourgirl
            ambrose Apr 26, 2008 02:45 PM

            I found the following comments about Aikou on the nj.com forum. I hope the link works as I've always had problems referencing that forum.

            http://www.nj.com/forums/restaurants/

            1. re: ambrose
              flourgirl Apr 26, 2008 05:23 PM

              The linked worked. :) Thanks - and it definitely sounds worth trying. I thought the prices posted in the flyer seemed reasonable too.

              I noticed further up on that link that there were comments that Canela's (in Turntable Junction) has closed. That's too bad. I didn't love most of the food but I really liked their empanadas.

              1. re: flourgirl
                ambrose Apr 27, 2008 11:03 AM

                Quite by chance, I was talking to some people this morning who had been to Los Jarochos, which has taken over Canela's location. They went for lunch last week and said it was awful! Now these people are pretty forgiving when it comes to restaurant food so I have to believe that the food was indeed awful.

                Nevertheless, I will give Los Jarochos a month or so to get its act together and then try it.

                1. re: ambrose
                  h
                  howchound Apr 28, 2008 06:41 AM

                  So I tried Aikou. Seems promising. Got the singles sushi platter which was quite good - very fresh. Also got the chicken pad thai and miso soup. Would describe both as innocuous. Could use more flavor in the pad thai, wasnt something Id get again, but was perfectly edible, just nothing special. Really most excited about the sushi - I know of no other place in the area to get reasonable sushi (dont get me started on my shumi experience) so Im hoping they only get better!

                  1. re: howchound
                    m
                    mountebank Apr 28, 2008 06:56 AM

                    Thanks for coming back and commenting on your experience at this new place. I am going there for lunch later this week and will most likely opt for the sushi. From the menu, it looks like Japanese is the way to go.

                    1. re: howchound
                      l
                      LaurenNJ May 2, 2008 02:23 PM

                      Have you tried Shiki in Flemington for Sushi? I love their Sushi. Their Chef does the Sushi for Shoprite also, I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, LOL, but it is good.

      2. flourgirl May 3, 2008 09:41 AM

        Some friends and I tried Aikou for lunch this past week. First, I have to say that they clearly put a lot of money into renovating the space. It's very well done. Beautiful stone and tile work. I think they've created a relaxing and soothing environment (at least at lunch).

        I had the sushi plate for lunch. The miso soup that came with it was fine - nothing special. The salad I could have lived without. It was just a little pile of pathetic somewhat wilty lettuce scraps with a weirdly textured dressing on it. Kind of lumpy. I just don't understand why restaurants serve food like this. Clearly no thought or caring went into this salad. I think this kind of thing sends a very bad message to the customer and is something that should be avoided at all costs by a restaurant that means to stay in business for any length of time.

        The sushi was OK - if somewhat warmer than I am used to having it served.

        One of my friends ordered the pad thai. She said she was very happy with it. She let me try a taste of it and my conclusions were: 1) it actually is the best pad thai I've had in a long time, 2) this isn't saying much because the last few times I had pad thai it was pretty bad and 3) I agree with howchound that it could have used more flavor.

        I didn't try any other dishes but the other two women I was with said they were happy with their meals. One of them ordered shrimp and vegetable tempura and it looked delicious.

        I still would like to try some of the hand rolls and other noodle dishes.

        1. ambrose May 5, 2008 12:12 PM

          I went to Aikou today for lunch. Like a couple of other people here, I had the sushi lunch special, which includes miso soup and salad.

          The miso soup was awful. In fact, it may well be the worst I've ever had, and I've had a lot of miso soup. I am used to the red colored soup and while I understand some places use a white miso paste, I don't think any paste ever met my broth. The soup was pale, flavorless and lukewarm. Not a good start.

          The salad was pretty much what I expected. I never had a really decent, American-style salad in Japan and I quickly learned never to expect one. This salad, which consisted of lettuce greens, dressing, and a lonely piece of tomato, was no better and no worse than many I've had in other Japanese restaurants.

          The sushi was very good and very well made. The fish was fresh and while it was served a little warmer than I'm accustomed to (see flourgirl's comment), this was not an issue for me. The one weak point was the roll, which I didn't particularly like. I should explain, however, that I generally don't like rolls anyway and I would be quite happy to see them disappear from the menus in Japanese restaurants.

          I will definitely go back to Aikou to sample some of their other dishes. I was the only one in the restaurant eating sushi and several of the other foods I saw looked quite tempting. If I have sushi again, and I most certainly will, I will pick and choose from the extensive selection that is offered.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ambrose
            l
            Lyds May 10, 2008 04:54 PM

            I just got back from a delicious dinner at Aikou. The food was wonderful (more on that in a minute) but the service, (though pleasant and polite) was haphazard at best.

            The restaurant wasn't filled when we arrived, though when we left there were two small groups waiting. We didn't have reservations and we did feel like we were being rushed. The service staff visited our table in shifts. My kids were laughing because someone would come by and take our order, they would leave, and seconds later someone else would come to ask for our order again. We placed an order with a waitress for our appetizers and said we weren't ready to order dinner yet. The same waitress put our order in and came right back to the table asking if we were ready seemilngly like she hadn't asked us before.. This continued all during dinner. A parade of people all asking us the same thing within seconds of each other. We were laughing that it seemed llike an SNL skit.

            Now, the food. We started with the shrimp dumplings in a hot sesame sauce. Not really spicy. more peanuty than sesame. We also had Thai crispy squid with spicy mango sauce. Large , thin and very tender rings of squid in sauce. Again, not really spicy but the dishes are lightly sauced and complement the food.

            My daughter had an avocado salad and shrimp tempura roll. She was in heaven. Three of us shared the following: spicy white tuna roll-fresh, not too many tempura "crispies"; the sashimi dinner, very nicely presented served atop crushed ice with white pickled ginger; It was a little warmer than usual as noted in other posts but I think the flavor of the fish is best enjoyed that way. We aslo had 3 signature rolls: Dynamite (spicy, very tasty), Wasabi roll and Godzilla roll. The last two were very similar except one had salmon the other tuna. They were gorgeous presented on the same platter with their contrasting red and green tobiko. All the sushi we had was served with a mayo based sauce, a bit different but tasty. We also had an order of green tea mochi ice cream for dessert. Very gummy, even for mochi.

            Forgot to say I had hot green tea with dinner. Served in a white mug, I would have liked a littlel tea pot, and I was never asked if I wanted more.
            Would definitely go back-the presentation is beautiful, very fresh with some interesting menu items. Hope they work out some service snags.

            1. re: Lyds
              k
              KinksFan Jun 10, 2008 01:48 AM

              Went there twice in the past three weeks, both times for dinner. I agree with others about the space: very attractive, however I could do without the Britney Spears videos on the flat screen next to the sushi bar. Table presentation is nice, service is very attentive.

              Miso soup: same as I've had a 1000 times elsewhere, nothing special. Salad was, as others said, weak, non-descript. My tuna roll was tasty and the presentation was better than typical, but really nothing special. Can't remember the entrees I had, although one was "Thai" and the other "Malaysian," but in both instances the sauces seemed to lack the complexity that I associate with those cuisines. Also, the quantity of veggies seemed a little skimpy, as did the variety (I'd gladly have swapped a little protein for more veggies, and I'm not vegetarian). In sum, there's just not much to get excited about at this place in terms of the food.

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