By Tes Silverman
When customers walk into Akebono Fusion Sushi in Greenlawn, they’re often greeted by name by owner Patty Li. And if she doesn’t know them when they walk in, she will by the time they leave.
Li and Chef David Cheng, the married owners of Akebono, provide a relaxing atmosphere that is contagious. Formerly occupied by Azuma, the duo took over the location in August 2014 and named for restaurant for the Japanese word meaning sunrise.
Cheng has been a sushi chef for 25 years and prides himself on serving high-quality sushi, which are works of art. If you’re a sushi lover, Tower ($12.95), consisting of spicy tuna, avocado, tempura crunch and cucumber rolled in pink soy paper is the appetizer to choose. The clean taste of the tuna, combined with the avocado, tempura crunch and cucumber result in a creamy, yet crunchy roll.
For entrees, the Ika Maru squid ($16.95), Chilean sea bass ($20), Japanese Tradition Bento Box ($11), and various rolls such as Volcano ($11.95), Hawaii($13.95), Akebono ($13.95) and Fire Island ($14.95) are good options. The rolls are beautifully created and if you have to choose one, go for the volcano roll, which consists of crab, avocado, shrimp, caviar, tempura flakes, topped with spicy tuna and scallion.
The Japanese Tradition Bento Box consists of a California roll, shumai, vegetable and white rice, with your choice of chicken, steak, or shrimp teriyaki, shrimp tempura or beef negimaki, making the bento box dinner filling and economical.
The Chilean sea bass is grilled and tender. Prepared with asparagus, carrots, brown sauce and scallions on top, it is ideal for the health-conscious diner.
For the adventurous diner, the BBQ Squid is something worth trying. The texture of squid can be rubbery, but in this instance, the squid is grilled until tender and prepared with seaweed salad, crab, caviar, eel, spicy mayo and eel sauce, making this dish filling and ample enough to be shared.
For Asian fusion choices, Akebono offers Malaysian, Chinese and Thai-inspired dishes such as Malaysian Red Curry (lemongrass and coconut), with a choice of chicken, beef or shrimp, General Tso’s chicken or Thai Spicy Basil with chicken or shrimp.
If you’re still feeling adventurous after trying various dinner choices, then why not try some fried ice cream or mochi with red bean ice cream for dessert? The fried ice cream is crispy and filled with creamy green tea or vanilla ice cream. The mochi (sticky rice cake) with the choice of red bean, green tea or vanilla ice cream is delicious and not overly sweet, unlike other ice creams.
In addition to dinners, Akebono offers lunch specials, from sushi or sashimi ($9 for two rolls or $12 for three rolls) to Bento box lunches and Hibachi-style cooking with choices of vegetable, chicken, steak, prawn or scallop.
Li believes Akebono offers a different vibe than other restaurants. Their restaurant may be small, but the care diners receive from Li and server Bobby Lee outweigh the size of the space.
“We are a family-friendly restaurant and we believe in personal interaction,” Li said. “We want our customers to relax once they step into our restaurant. We do that by remembering what our diners want and serve them their favorite dishes or suggest new ones they may want to try. We want them to enjoy and feel cared for, even if it’s only for an hour or two.”