Joanna Nix is the vibrant and vivacious owner behind Nikko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. Located in the “Big Pink Building” in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte, it’s a large space that offers up even larger flavor in its Japanese bites. We stopped in for a late afternoon bite and were surprised to see how busy it was, despite being an off time.
The Kalbi ($12.00) was caramelized, savory and rich with its sweet soy glaze. Pleasantly char-grilled on the outside without being tough. The real surprise was the side of cucumber kimchi. I could’ve eaten just a bowl of that on its own! It was salty, spicy, with just a hint of sweetness. If you’re a pickle/kimichi kind of person, you are going to love this side.
Ama-Ebi ($9.00 for 2 pieces) were the sweet shrimp nigiri that include a side of the fried shrimp heads. I’ve never had this type of shrimp before, so it was exciting to try it and love it! The flesh was mildly sweet with a gel like texture, but in a good way. We also had 4 pieces of nigiri with their special fish of the day. It was a hybrid between snapper and white fish. The texture was firm, but delicate and sweet with a pop of crunch from the scallions sprinkled on top.
Hotategai ($14.00 for 4 pieces) were a spicy scallop nigiri with huge pieces of scallop, tobiko, mayo and chili sauce. Again, I could eat a bowl of the spiced scallops on its own. I also appreciated you could see the pieces of the scallops, it wasn’t all minced up like other “spicy” versions of sushi. The sweet scallops, spicy mayo and salty tobiko all paired well with each other and created a nice, balanced bite.
Nikko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar fits in with its trendy and modern style in the South End area. Their menu is expansive, but maintains its quality despite the variety. There are plenty of raw and cooked dishes that would satisfy any diner’s comfort level of sushi. Head on in if you’re looking for a familiar Japanese dish or want to expand your horizons to try something new.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @