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Sep 28, 2012 06:45 AM

Yamazushi in Woodcroft Shopping Center, Durham, NC

Just got 5 stars. Has anyone ever been? I've been to the Chubby's and Pulcinella in the same shopping center.

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  1. Thanks for alerting us to this bf - it looks and sounds amazing. I wish they weren't quite so rule bound: reservations only held for 5 minutes, no parties larger than 4, and it sounds like they'd prefer no children, and if there is one person I know who would go nuts for this place it is my daughter. I think maybe if I take her at lunch and assume she'll be on good behavior they wouldnt' throw us out.

    Has anyone tried it yet? I can't wait to hear some first hand reports.

    1. I think Yamazushi is one of the best, most unique restaurants in the Triangle. After living here for 5 years, I only just discovered it and it's now my go-to place for visitors and special meals. If you want a taste of the kaiseki dining style without the 5 or 8 course price tag, I recommend their 3-course lunch menu for $30 (of the dishes listed in the review, I had the sashimi, black cod, and Osaka-style box sushi on my last visit). Not only is every bite of food perfectly designed, but the atmosphere is as tranquil as a spa.

      As the review points out, you will not find rolls stuffed with fish and cream cheese and fried tempura crunchies. So if that's your idea of a "great sushi place", either alter your expectations or move on - but if you want a unique, authentic dining experience where every detail has been considered, then definitely go!

      Yamazushi is a much more refined dining experience than most sushi places around here, without being pretentious. Mayumi (the chef's wife who handles front of house) is so wonderful and treats you like a guest in her home whether you are a first-timer or a repeat visitor. She kindly explains the intricacies of each dish - including the sources of all fish and dining techniques (for example, soy sauce is not traditionally used with the box sushi).

      LulusMom - I can also comment on the "restrictions" of the restaurant...the space has 5 tables (2 tables of 2 and 3 tables of 4), so that is why they cannot accommodate larger parties. Because of the small size of the restaurant, they do ask for reservations. It's definitely not a loud and boisterous place, but I know they would be glad to have well-behaved children. (On my first visit, there was a girl there with her grandparents - probably around 7 or 8 years old - and she commented that certain dishes were her "favorites", so she must have been a regular).

      I really can't recommend Yamazushi enough - but I also don't want everyone flocking there so I can't get a reservation! A meal there optimizes the idea of a complete dining experience. Even though I'm a budget-strapped graduate student, I jump at every opportunity to go to Yamazushi - and I will make it a point to try their 8-course kaiseki at least once before I graduate!

      9 Replies
      1. re: pamdemic3

        Thank you so much for your very well thought out review and comments, pamdemic3. The place sounds great. We're much more fans of nigiri sushi than rolls, so that will be right up our alley. And it sounds as if it really has the whole Japanese experience down. I also appreciate that you commented on the restrictions of the restaurant, since they jumped out at me when I looked at the website. I do think my daughter would fit right in - she's (almost always - watch her prove me wrong) well behaved and has eaten in restaurants all over the place and been complemented on her behavior and absolutely loves raw fish. I think she'd do fine at this place, given what you've mentioned. Thanks for telling me about the other child. So they insist on reservations for every meal? I'd love to be spontaneous (no, just kidding, I'm NEVER spontaneous) and take Lulu for lunch one day. But it sounds wonderful. The black cod definitely has my mouth watering.

        1. re: LulusMom

          The Spouse and kid are now salivating at the thought of going. Me, a little less so, but they'll appreciate it so much more than I. Still, after this review, it's unlikely that it will be easy to get a reservation anytime soon.

          1. re: rockycat

            Maybe lunch? Seems like an out of the way enough spot that if rockette has the day off, you could probably pull it off. That's sort of the way I'm leaning as a first try.

            1. re: LulusMom

              i'll email you offline, i'd love to meet you all for lunch!

              1. re: LulusMom

                I can do a lunch if I know about it ahead of time.

            2. re: LulusMom

              The first time I went there was for lunch and I just walked in around 12:15 (they open at noon). By the time I left the restaurant, every table was filled. FYI, the food is served at a very leisurely pace and it took me over an hour for the 3-course lunch. While chatting with Mayumi towards the end of my meal, she suggested that I make a reservation next time to ensure that I can get a table (it's a good way for them to prioritize their repeat customers). The next time I went, I made a reservation (and was also offered the 5- and 8-course tasting options for lunch, since I was making a reservation, but I don't know if that's regular practice) - but the reservation was unnecessary and only 1-2 other tables were taken.

              If you can plan ahead, I would suggest a reservation - since the meal takes such a long time, there really isn't much time for table turnover during the lunch service. Especially given the great N&O review...

              And I'm sure your daughter will love it (as someone who was brought to restaurants, museums, and concerts as a child, I really love it when I see a child appreciating these types of experiences - kudos to you!! I can't thank my parents enough for giving me those opportunities and I'm sure Lulu will feel the same.)

              1. re: pamdemic3

                Has this restaurant improved so drastically to merit 5 stars? I ordered sushi from there a year ago and thought it was ineptly produced, that is to say not well formed or rolled.

                That said eating a meal of high Japanese cuisine is one of the most memorable meals of my life, so I look forward to trying this place again.

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  I have always enjoyed my meals at Yamazushi for their non-sushi dishes. I've always known that they have placed more emphasis on stuff Greg Cox is talking about, although I remember their menu going more towards the middle, closer to izakaya stuff than kaiseki, and I've enjoyed it, so I'm not surprised to hear that their sushi wasn't anything special.

                  This change in focus, apparently aiming higher in execution and price, is a fairly recent thing. I go there seldom enough to notice the change.

                  1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                    I gave this place a shout out and some love on here quite a while back (probably over a year ago) and I remember that you replied with a very unenthusiastic response, citing a lackluster experience. At the time I wondered what the disconnect was (and if my tastebuds were out of calibration, always likely, especially as I've agreed with your posts 99% of the time). Now, I think that I understand. I didn't order sushi there and had a great meal. Perhaps their sushi isn't all that great.

            3. Went bowling the other night at AMF and met a man from Tokyo who has only been here a year and he recommends Yamazushi. In fact, I said I heard of aplace that does Kaiseki (in reply to his stating he misses his homelands food) and he knew exactly where I was referring. He said it is very good but expensive.

              1. Yamazushi was the first place I ever ate in the Triangle--20 years ago this coming February, although that meal was in the RTP location, where Bombay Grille is now. A few years later, they consolidated to just the Woodcroft site.

                It's still one of my top choices for a quiet business lunch, and I've always enjoyed the food, service and atmosphere. One of my coworkers lived in Japan for some time and considers it the only authentic Japanese restaurant around. I usually explore dishes other than sushi, just because they're not on menus elsewhere.

                1. I had lunch at Yamazushi today with Cervisiam (hope you don't mind getting a call out). I thought it was very good. We didn't eat any raw fish. Rereading this thread, I don't regret it at all. We ordered all the appetizers except the pickles plus the entree size vegetable tempura (all of it to share). I would have to say that my two favorites from the appetizers were the grilled scallops in the shell, served in a rich soy-mayo sauce (I'm cutting and pasting from the online menu here, so if the language sounds flowery that is why) and the Grilled Japanese eggplant topped with a sweet miso glaze and sesame seeds. The other appetizers we tried were a seaweed salad sampler, dashi with local flounder, and spinach in a sweet sesame sauce. We also shared a dessert - the house-made sorbet. We chose the kiwi flavor (which was amazing - both in taste and presentation); they also had lemon and pineapple. I will definitely go there again.

                  We got there at noon and didn't leave until about 2, so yes, this is not a place to go to for a quick lunch. Also, for those worried about getting a seat, do try at lunch. I'd made a reservation but it was unnecessary. There were at least 2 empty tables the whole time. The service was very good, polite and helpful. Always a little surprising to me to find a good restaurant in a strip mall, but there it is.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Thanks for the review. Now that it is so close to my place. I'll have to go there for lunch one day when I have the available time.