There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who dislike sushi, and cool people.
If you fall in the latter camp, read on.
The Asian Café is a relatively new restaurant on the southwest corner of 27th and Superior. Its hard to spot because its nestled among some other strip mall tenants far off the main street. Also, the name “Asian Cafe” is pretty generic and uninspiring (the only worse name choice might be “Asian Restaurant”). Thus, a lot of people may tend to just drive by and pass this one up.
My advice: If you enjoy very good sushi at reasonable prices, you need to try the Asian Cafe. This is the real deal folks.
We went there for lunch last weekend afternoon. I ordered the Maki Combo for $10. The Maki Combo is a choice of three sushi rolls (6 pieces per roll/18 pieces total). You get to choose from a salmon roll (above), tuna roll, philly roll, avocado roll, or shrimp tempura roll.
I was very impressed with the quality of all of my sushi rolls. They were perfectly crafted and beautifully presented by a sushi chef working in full view of the dining area. Unlike some of those pan-Asian all you can (bear to) eat buffets which serve “sushi”, at the Asian Cafe they don’t skimp on the fish, and the sushi is freshly made to order - i.e. perfectly moist rice, crisp veggies, and freshly formed and presented for your eating and viewing pleasure.
I also had the shrimp tempura roll (above), which was the “specialty” roll of the combo plate, and definitely the biggest one of the three. It also came with a modest drizzling of a mildly salty and rich finishing sauce (I think eel sauce) that complimented the fried shrimp nicely, and added to the beauty of the display. Of course, you also get the pickled veggies and wasabi on the side as well.
For my final choice, I went with the Philadelphia roll. I was never big on this type of roll because it always sounded a little tacky to me, but now I am definitely a convert. Again, this roll had generous-sized portions of smoked salmon and cheese, with some crunchy julienned cucumber for texture. A perfect balance of flavors. I will definitely be ordering this one again!
In addition to the three rolls, you also get a small bowl of miso soup and a simple green salad with a light citrus-based sauce. Not bad for $10!
I wouldn’t consider myself a huge eater, but when I go out to a restaurant of any type or cuisine, I’m always disappointed if the serving sizes don’t leave you full. This can be particularly problematic at sushi places, where you may have to pay up the nose for enough food to sate your appetite if you are really hungry. After the eighteen pieces of sushi and the soup and salad at the Asian Cafe, I was definitely satisfied. My dining companion Ms. T also ordered the 3-roll Maki combo and couldn’t finish them all, though she also praised the quality of the food. Next time, she’ll go with the 2-roll Maki combo (12 pieces) for only $7.
We went to the Asian Cafe on a weekend afternoon after the lunch hour. At the time, there were only a few other patrons in the dining area, and the occasional take away customer. Thus, we benefited from going there at a pretty light time of day, and we were served very fast with impressive results. I’m not sure what the experience would be like during busier times.
Its also worth noting that although this is a casual dining experience and atmosphere, the restaurant seemed newly renovated and the dining area and sushi bar were quite clean looking. Overall, a clean, simple, well-lit environment that matched the quality of our food very well.
Finding a restaurant that serves great sushi at reasonable prices can be hard anywhere. Now try looking for that restaurant in the middle of mac and cheese country. There are a few decent places in both Omaha and Lincoln, but one can expect to pay probably at least $15-25 per person for a good meal. For $10, the sushi experience I had at Asian Cafe is seriously hard to beat. It was excellent.
I should also note, the menu is pretty large and looked to have some other Japanese-style items worth trying (soba, teriyaki, etc.) as well as some of the more traditional Chinese-American fare. However, its the quality sushi at the excellent prices that is the real star at the Asian Cafe, and it definitely fills a niche in Lincoln.
Asian Cafe facebook page with full menu is here.
Jeff Korbelik’s review can be found here.
Yelp reviews are here.