Thu 20 Jul 2006
Berkeley is flooded with sushi joints – some great (e.g. Kirala) but most not. There are a fair number, though, that are mediocre – pretty good rolls, questionable sashimi, and a decent value. It's a tough market to crack. I can image that it requires some ingeuity to develop a clientele in such a crowded market.
Enter Akasaka, a new place on Telegraph across from the Andronicos. Before I go further let me say: it's pretty good. The fish is quite fresh – fresh enough for sashimi- and the rolls are interesting. They also put a lot of effort into the space. It's very pretty and the waitstaff are all friendly and attentive. It's not an especially good value, but still. So first they put up a banner that advertises daily specials – UC Berkeley day, couples day, family day, etc. Nice idea. Free or discounted dessert, beer, etc. on each day. Then they put up a sign that said 'All You Can Eat Sushi.'
Now, because I've been there before and I know it's good, I think '$18 for all you can eat sushi that doesn't suck?! Amazing!' Of course, most people haven't been there, and they think the opposite. The typical all you can eat joint is not one you'd necessarily want to throw your hat in with. (Is that even a real expression?) It conjures up images of stinky fish, chinzy decor, and endless potstickers and cucumber rolls. I had my share of experiences with that in college. So I started to tell friends they should try the place, and they all – universally – have said 'You mean the all you can eat joint?! NO THANKS!' That didn't even occur to me, of course, since I'd already been there. But if I were them I'd take it down. Fascinating how tricky marketing sushi can be.