Life and Religion
|AZN Azian Cuisine brings taste of Far East|
|New restaurant blends culture and food|
|Published Thursday, November 1, 2012 11:04 am|
Located in the heart of SouthPark, AZN Azian Cuisine is one of Charlotte’s newest restaurants specializing in upscale Pan Asian dishes.
It features steak, seafood and sushi inspired by the culture and flavors of Japan, China, Szechuan, Thailand and Korea.
|PHOTO/AZN AZIAN CUISINE|
|Dishes Served at AZN Azian Cuisine in the SouthPark area.|
Owners Raymond and Anna Hsu have over 35 years of experience in the restaurant business. Both were born into families of restaurateurs. Anna’s family is from San Tung in northern China and had numerous Chinese restaurants in Korea. Raymond’s family is from Shanghai and owned restaurants in Hong Kong.
In addition to their two AZN locations (the other is in Naples, Fla.), the Hsus own Hsu’s and Pacific Rim Bistro in Atlanta.
I visited AZN in SouthPark for the grand opening ceremony on Oct. 20 and feasted on Malaysian Panang Curry Chicken smothered with coconut milk and wok-tossed with mixed vegetables; Crisp & Spicy Calamari served tempura style; Hawaiian Ahi Poke (raw tuna cubes with avocado, seaweed salad and pineapple in ponzu sauce topped with tobiko); and my favorite, the Wanchai Walnut Shrimp (crispy large shrimp wok-tossed in honey-lemon aioli sauce and topped with candied walnuts). I also tried AZN’s most popular sushi roll – the Firecracker, which is made with spicy tuna, tempura flakes, topped with firecracker mix (krabstick, avocado and spicy mayo) and jalapeno. The Firecracker roll is spicy and definitely lived up to its name.
AZN’s grand opening was fantastic, but I wanted to review the restaurant during regular business hours. So I stopped by for dinner the following Tuesday with a friend.
As an appetizer, we split a California Roll (krabstick, cucumber and avocado inside and rice, sesame seed with masago on the outside - $8).
For the entrees, I ordered the stir-fried AZN Lo Mein ($13), which is served with wok sautéed shrimp, beef, chicken and vegetables. My friend ordered the Kung Pao Lo Mein ($18), which is served with sautéed shrimp, vegetables and peanuts in a Szechuan garlic sauce.
We split a Tropical Zen ($24), a refreshing blend of four Bacardi-flavored rums and tropical fruit juices served in a 52-ounce fishbowl-style glass.
The food was amazing. The California Roll was fresh and flavorful. Our Lo Mein noodles were cooked to perfection and chocked full with meat and seafood in every bite.
Our humongous drink – which we slid back and forth across the table and drank with two straws – was also delicious. It was refreshing and tropically fruity without being too sweet. But be careful; it goes down smooth and sneaks up on you later.
The ambiance at AZN exudes upscale luxury and is very Zen-like. The décor of the two-level space is contemporary in design and adorned with vertical tiles and rich woods. The booths are cozy and comfortable. The music is soothing. The playlist consisted of contemporary jazz, a little reggae and the soft sounds of a genre of music that I did not recognize. Too bad it was not warm enough for us to sit outside. AZN has one of the swankiest patios I’ve seen in a long while with a lounge area, plush stools and an indoor/outdoor bar.
If you go after sunset, you may need a flashlight to read the menu. Our booth did not have spot lighting and it was so dim that I strained my eyes trying to see the hard-to-read print on the menu. The frosted glass lantern on the table provided no recourse. I had a slight headache by the time I placed my order. My friend complained that she could hardily see what she was eating. Perhaps such lighting makes for a nice romantic atmosphere, but I found it annoying.
Other than the poor lighting at night, I really could not find anything wrong with my experience at AZN. The food was great and the service was pretty good. The chocolate dipped fortune cookies general manager Tom Jones personally dropped off at our table were a nice touch. However, I cannot say that I was absolutely “wowed” by my experience, so I give AZN Azian Cuisine 3.5 of five stars.
AZN Azian Cuisine
4620 Piedmont Row Drive
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