Sushiya Japan sits off Providence Road in the Arboretum Shopping Center near Matthews. This bustling area is constantly growing, and the shopping center is no exception. Touted as an authentic Japanese restaurant with classic Japanese dishes and hand cut sushi, it’s just what the area needs. With a heavy dousing of chain restaurants in the complex, it’s great to see a family owned and operated joint.
Upon walking into the restaurant, it was oddly quiet for lunch, considering how full the parking lot was. I was promptly seated at a sticky, dirty table. With a little elbow grease, the table was wiped clean. First impressions aren’t always right, or are they?
Calamari tempura ($6.95) set the tone for the meal I was about to have. Greasy, chewy and bland – all things great tempura is not. I think the only uplifting note is that the dish arrived to the table hot. The accompanying soy-vinegar sauce was decent, but there wasn’t enough of it to drown the poorly executed tempura.
I ordered a trio of nigiri. The salmon ($4.50 for 2 pieces), scallop ($4.50 for 2 pieces) and Blue fin Tuna ($5.95). The salmon was slick and flavorless. The scallop had the texture of glue and had more than a couple bites of shell on the nigiri, too. It was hard to really differentiate any flavor, as my mouth was so preoccupied with comprehending why I felt like I was eating glue. The texture of the blue fin was like paste and was dry on top, like it had been sitting out for a while before being sliced and served. It had a slight metallic taste, much like it does when it’s started to turn and go bad. Needless to say, this was a terrible trio of nigiri.
One measly highlight of the experience was my server. She was friendly and timely, but nothing outstanding. Despite being in an upscale area, Sushiya Japan did not impress. Maybe I stopped in on an off day or at an off time, but when there’s only 2 other tables full at lunch time, I’d hate to come back during a rush. Much like my table, I wish to wipe my memory clean of this meal.
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 @