Wasabi 88 - more than just sushi
By Christina Ruotolo
The Daily Reflectot
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Wasabi 88 Asian Bistro Sushi & Bar located at 1605 E. Firetower Road in Greenville is the place to go when you’re seeking fresh and flavorful sushi and a multitude of Asian favorites. Front house manager Shawn Grazier invites customers to come and taste the sea at Wasabi 88. They offer traditional sushi with hundreds of combinations to choose from with every fresh and unique ingredient you can think of from the most inventive to more classic options. “There is a roll for every taste, and if you can think it up and we can make it, you can eat it,” Grazier says. Some popular sushi options include fun named rolls named after people, places, and things including the Dave Mirra with its tuna and cucumber topped with spicy crab, avocado, spicy chef sauce, and seafood sauce. Or maybe you want to try the Greenville which is crab, cream cheese, avocado, tempura flakes, and spicy mayo, tempura fried, then topped with wasabi sauce, and seafood sauce. Choose from Maki/hand rolls, Wasaburritos, or full sushi plates for a mixture of flavors. Come back often and enjoy BOGO sushi rolls every Sunday-Thursday night.
Daniel Wu took over as owner of Wasabi 88 in Sept 2016. He saw a perfect location to provide an above and beyond customer experience matched with his background in the hospitality industry. As an ECU Graduate, Daniel has been in the business of providing great food since birth, due to his parents owning restaurants his entire life. Wasabi 88, while under Wu’s ownership, has received the Best of Greenville award for best sushi in 2017, best Asian in 2018 and 2nd place best sushi in 2018. He credits these awards to the overall experience he is careful to provide his guests, and the passion the employees have. Not only is he the owner of Wasabi 88, Wu is also the owner of Dairy Queen, Tokyo Express, and former owner of #1 Chinese Restaurant. Most nights you will find Daniel doing what he loves, cooking for his guests, always with a smile.
Wasabi 88 also offers more American/Asian options like Kobe burgers, Hibachi or Teriyaki chicken or steak, noodle options, entrees like the Mahi-Mahi, steaks & shrimp, as well as soups and salads. Prices range from $5.99-$24.99. Everything is made fresh all the way down to the wontons with nothing used from a bag or a box. The restaurant has a large open seating section overlooking a wide fish tank with colorful fish swimming laps as a row of sushi chefs stand ready to wrap, roll and serve you dinner. There are booths, tables and a large bar at the back of the restaurant where you can enjoy a half price bottle of wine on Sundays or a half price glass of wine on Tuesday nights. They can even special order your favorite wine so you can come in and get the food and wine you love. Some popular cocktails include the Asian Pear made with orange vodka, orange & cherry muddle, Grenadine, Hana peach white sake, orange juice, and then it’s topped with Allure Moscato. They offer 13 beers on tap with one Sake draft. They even have a private party room that can be closed into 2 separate sections and hold up to 30 people. They also have live music in the bar area every Saturday night at 7pm. There is a lot to see, choose from and eat at Wasabi 88, so let’s get started.
For the start of my food tour, I tried one of my all-time favorite Asian appetizers, the crab wontons. Hand wrapped wontons are filled with blue crab meat and cream cheese then fried to a crispy brown little pocket of crabby love. They are creamy, crunchy, and sweet and have the perfect balance of crab and cream cheese. There is enough to share with a friend, but if you go with me, you need to get your own, because I eat them all myself. Cost is $7.99. Other popular appetizers are the Wasabi Sampler Platter with those crab wontons, spring rolls, and Gyoza dumplings which can be stuffed with pork or vegetable and then either steamed or fried. Other popular options include lettuce wraps which are filled with stir fried ground chicken, water chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms all served over a bed of crispy noodles. And don’t worry, it’s not Romaine lettuce, it’s literally, a half a head of iceberg lettuce and there is enough of this appetizer for sharing with your best buds.
Okay so now the time has come that I will try raw sushi. I very rarely eat sushi and when I do, I tend to lean toward a cooked roll or perhaps a California roll with crab meat, avocado and cucumber, or any roll that is not “raw.” I don’t hate sushi, I just haven’t grown my sushi palate yet. I like cooked tuna, I love avocado and I LOVE rice, so I decided to try the Junk in the Trunk. This sushi roll is a crowd favorite and best-seller and consists of spicy raw tuna, spicy mayo, and avocado topped with tuna, wasabi sauce, sweet chef’s sauce, and seafood sauce. It was super pretty and inviting and smelled really good. I cracked open my chopsticks, and went in for my first bite. Okay, I like this sushi, it didn’t taste fishy at all and was cool and refreshing. I actually polished off several more bites expecting the next to taste bad, but nope, it was still good. I learned that really good sushi and raw fish should never taste fishy, if it does, then it’s not good sushi. The sushi is all good here. Wasabi 88 gets their seafood in several times a week in order to serve you the freshest seafood around. And for those who never want to venture to the raw side, you can choose one of the dozens of cooked seafood options to eat. Grazier says that “sushi is not just raw fish, there are also a lot of veggie and vegan options, so anyone can eat healthy and eat sushi.” Junk in the Trunk is $14.99.
Next, I tried a baked sushi roll called the Paradise which is made with spicy tuna, cucumber and cream cheese topped with spicy crab and tempura flakes then baked. It was beautifully presented in a little package holding in all that baked goodness. Open up the package and inside are the warm little sushi rolls. It was creamy and warm with a nice kick of heat at the end. I love the cooked crab with buttery little tempura crisps on top. It was an enjoyable option for only $13.99.
I ended my food tour with everybody’s favorite, the Crispy Sesame chicken which is breaded chicken mixed with a sweet and sour sauce with roasted sesame seeds and served with a side of steamed broccoli and bowl of fried rice. It’s a go-to for me every time and mixes my love of sweet, sour, and savory. Cost is $13.99 and you can choose either chicken, beef, or shrimp. No matter what you choose, anyone can eat at Wasabi 88 and find something they will love.
During the month of December, Wasabi 88 will be having a server sushi contest. Servers had the opportunity to create & name their very own sushi roll. The creations are fun and filled with a variety of colorful and tasty ingredients. Cost is $14.99 per roll, so make sure to ask your server when you come and try something new this month. They are also hosting a Toy Drive with Pitt County Social Services. From now until December 8th, bring in a new unwrapped toy for someone age fifteen or younger. Those who donate a toy will be given a coupon for a free appetizer. Give a gift and get a gift, it’s as simple and easy as that. Wasabi 88 is open Monday-Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm-11pm, and Sunday 5pm-9pm. Call to make reservations for your upcoming holiday dinner group or for a romantic dinner. Check out their website www.wasabi88.com , or call 252-493-0510 to find out more.
Nog-Holiday Brews & Spirits will be offering various Egg Nog creations at a pop-up shop in Uptown Greenville Thursdays through Saturdays from December 6th through 22nd at 409 Evans Street. Hours will be from 4pm to 11pm. For more information visit drinknog.com.