Momoyama sushi in Durham (near Southpoint)
I was at Target by Southpoint and noticed a small Japanese restaurant had opened in the adjacent strip shopping center (next to Entree Vous). The place is relatively small, I believe locally owned, and has a nice noodle-shop vibe. I had kids with me so I just ordered takeout sushi. I got a spider roll, spicy salmon roll, eel nigiri, and and an avocado roll (the last one was for the kids). The fish was very fresh, and the sushi rice was above average. It's not Waraji, but it's better than anything else at this end of town (certainly better than Shiki Sushi, imho).
While I was waiting for my order, I saw other food coming out of the kitchen that looked really nicely as well. I'll be interested to see of others have good experiences there.
Momoyama Japanese Restaurant
8200 Renaissance Pkwy Ste 1001, Durham, NC 27713
I went there last night on my way home from work. I was craving sushi and was curious to give this place a try.
First of all, the neon sign above makes it seem like it's a bigger space, like Kanki or another Benihana type of teppan yaki grill. It's just as described by Durhamois---a lunch counter or a noodle bar. No fuss, no muss. I walked in, sat at the sushi bar, and ordered the sushi deluxe special, 9 pieces of nigiri (the menu says sushi) and 1 california roll. It came with a bowl of miso soup (white miso, unremarkable) and salad (cucumber, iceberg, and a pretty standard but tasty ginger dressing). The owner/sushi chef gave me a couple of amuse bouche gratis which were pretty tasty---a shrimp tempura dressed w/shredded radish, carrots, and a light but spicy dressing (I think I tasted gochujang-the korean red chili paste) and two pieces of 'sushi', which was crab meat in a cucumber wrapping and rolled. It was very tasty and would be perfect in the summer when the heat is stifling.
My dinner was really, really tasty. Probably the freshest quality fish I've had at any sushi places in the triangle, even more so than An in Cary for a fraction of the price. I had 2 yellow tail, 2 tuna, 2 salmon, 1 shrimp, 1 giant clam, and 1 other that I can't remember along w/the california roll. I have been scarred by really fishy yellowtail and was a little tenative about going there again; however, these pieces were delicious. The salmon was beyond buttery and just melted in my mouth. I like that he does not put too much rice in the pieces. I've found myself more often than not cutting off more than half the rice in my nigiri b/c it just seems too much and interferes with my enjoyment of eating it. I also think it's a cheap filler.
I also ordered a cup of hot green tea. Pass on it, not worth the $1.95 or whatever I paid for it. It was tepid and weakly flavored and had been brewed in a big batch prior to being served.
I will definitely be back. I got a chance to talk to the proprietors during my dinner and they are super nice. They are uncompromising in the quality of the fish they use and I was very impressed by it. Choeng Oak, the wife/hostess/manager (you know how mom and pop places are) said they are taking a loss on the uni b/c they can only keep it for a very short period of time before it goes bad. They'd rather throw it out than serve it. I'm impressed that they even serve it but furthermore that they will lose money rather than compromise on quality.
This place doesn't have the hip/slick feel that Shiki Sushi has but if you're looking for really delicious and fresh sushi in Durham, I definitely recommend this joint. Besides, you don't have to worry about that 'buy one get one free' crap where they don't ever split checks. I know I'll be back, maybe even this week for lunch.
I stopped by there for takeout again today. The sushi's really the best in the neighborhood, and I like the vibe inside the restaurant. But I asked the waitress how business was, and she indicated it could be better. I think it's worth it for fresh sushi in a very casual environment.
I really liked the vegetarian-friendly menu there. I'd read it online and drove all the way from downtown with my husband to try it.. The crunchy tofu roll was fabulous. I'm trying not to eat the over-fished tuna and have a shellfish allergy, so it was great to have more options. I usually need to make substitutions, but not here. My husband loved their crab roll, and the white fish nigiri was pretty good too.
It was a friendly atmosphere where you could bring kids or have a business lunch. I'll definitely go back next time I'm in in the Southpoint area.
The restaurant doesn't even rise to mediocrity. The sushi wasn't even close to fresh. Worse still, the restaurant had prominently posted two (amateurish) signs on their window advertising 50% off all rolls. When the bill arrived the waitress explained that we should have read the fine print on the signs - the offer was for dinner only. I seriously doubt that we were the first customers that found this approach almost comically lacking in clarity. If you're going to try this restaurant, you better hurry. I know we'll never be back...
The long-time sushi chef from Oishii in Chapel Hill has moved on and opened Momoyama. The space is cute, the fish is very good, and the prices are amazing. Since moving to the Triangle three years ago, I haven't found the sushi joint of my dreams, but this is as close as I've come. Every evening every roll on the menu except one is half price. That's a steal.
I ate there not long after they opened as I was on my way home from the mall. The fish is fresh and so I'm not sure why esdecurtis had such a bad experience. The space is a jewelbox restaurant so there is no decor and that probably should be the case if the focus is on such a simply showcased meal. There is no buy one get one which can be a sucker's bet some times anyways and so the meal will be pricier than other sushi locations like Shiki or Sushi Love. Regardless, it was still a good dining experience.
I'm adding a thumbs up for Momoyama. It greatly reminded me of the small, family run Japanese places I grew up going to in the SF bay area.
We started with a basic sushi roll as an appetizer and it was fresh and skillfully made. I also greatly appreciated that the menu includes descriptions of the contents of the more deluxe rolls. As I remember, the Shiki menu does not tell you what's in a "Crunchy Dragon roll" (made up example). Not being so familiar with these nontraditional rolls, I appreciate the descriptions.
For entrees I had the Tonkatsu and SO has the Salmon Teriyaki. Very generous portions of both and both perfectly cooked. The Tonkatsu was a nice crisp exterior, with juicy meat that was not tough or oily. The salmon came with a side of steamed veggies that had clearly started fresh and had not been frozen. The tonkatsu came with a side of apple slices and pineapple, which worked well, although the pineapple was clearly from a can. We had tea with our meal and were not charged for it. Not sure if they forgot, or tea is normally included.
This is a nice homey, traditional Japanese restaurant without the flash and dash (or wait times!) of a Shiki Sushi. We'll definitely be back.
I have been there a few times, always good and efficient service, nothing fancy but good atmosphere. The first time I went I had an udon dish, it was OK but nothing special, I won't order it again. I'm a sushi novice, and Momoyama has been a great place to test the waters and learn. The clear descriptions of what's what are very helpful, I like trying new things but don't like surprises.
Last time I went they had notes posted that the long running 50% off sushi rolls at dinner special would end at the end of June. I haven't been since then, and their website appears to be gone, so I don't know if they reinstated the special. The special did make for a great deal though - soup, salad, sushi, and drinks for 2 people <$30.
BTW, Momoyama has a new chef for a couple of months or so. Moving slowly towards more authentic Japenese style. Several interesting appetizers and, most importantly, passable ramen. Miso ramen was great. By far the best ramen I had in the triangle. (They also have hot and cold soba and several udon options).