Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aoyama Temaki Hall (Itaim Bibi)

Aoyama Temaki Hall
Rua Adolfo Tabacow, 269
Itaim Bibi
no website

This place was such a find that the first time I went, I returned less than 3 days later. I have to admit, the only reason we went in the first place was because its "big sister" sushi restaurant (Aoyama, around the corner on Mario Ferraz) was packed and we did not feel like waiting. That's not to say that sometimes there isn't a wait out the door (the restaurant doesn't have THAT many tables, although there is an upstairs and there's room for about 10 at the "sushi counter"), but on that particular evening, we sat down right away.

I guess the thing to do here is the rodizio (that's Portuguese for "all-you-can-eat"). You can order as many temaki rolls as you want, and then all of this other stuff comes with it, too. Tiny little fried spring rolls (veggie), guioza (pork dumplings), and a tray of assorted sushi-like (but kind of unidentifiable) items. And you can't forget about the near perfect and refreshing marinated cucumber salad (which I saw an entire family drown in soy sauce...gross!). But my advice is really to save room for the temaki rolls.

If you are a vegetarian, or if you don't eat raw fish, you are in luck here. There's grilled salmon, shimeji (mushroom), kani (fake crab), and pepino (cucumber) temaki. There are some weird choices, mixing different fish with mayonaise, and even one with salmon, strawberries, and whipped cream. When I gave the sushi guy an interested look about the strawberry one, he shook his head at me in warning to stay away. I did.

There are also some combinations that come mixed with cream cheese. Unless you REALLY love cream cheese, either stay away or ask for "um poco de cream cheese"....just a little. They oblige, and it's actually pretty good. Like what you would get on a bagel, but wrapped inseaweed instead.

I really enjoyed (and am, in fact, craving right now) the straight up salmon and ginger, peixe branco (white fish with drops of lime, camarao (shrimp), and california roll (it's really pretty, too). Fresh, tasty, healthy.

***Only thing that weirded me out was that there was not one single Asian employee in the whole restaurant -- not even the guys making the temaki rolls! I made the comment to Janhavi, "I hope there's some really old Japanese man in the back telling everyone what to do in here!".

The service is quick and friendly. Can't wait to go back again.

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