When you’re ready to go out for a meal in downtown Chapel Hill, you will never be at a loss for options. A simple stroll down Franklin Street will present you with a plethora of choices that can each serve to satisfy your palate. Recently I decided that I wanted to try a new restaurant that I haven't been to before. Having gone to school at Carolina and now having been back in the area for almost a year, there are very few restaurants on Franklin Street that I have not tried. This week my girlfriend was in town and she is a sushi connoisseur so we decided it was time to venture out to Spicy 9 Sushi and Asian Cuisine.
The restaurant is located on West Franklin Street beside the Gentlemen's Corner shop in the new 140 West development beside Church Street. When we got to the restaurant, we were seated right away. The inside of the restaurant is bright and colorful with rows of tables and a bar featuring several televisions that are clearly visible throughout the restaurant. This was a pleasant surprise to me as there were several sports games that I was still interested in keeping tabs on, much to the dismay of my girlfriend. Our waiter greeted us as soon as we sat down and he took our drink orders.
Since we were in a celebratory mood, we opted to start our meal with an infused sake drink which was mixed with fresh fruit. I have never tried this type of drink before and I would have to say that it was delicious. The drink was very thick almost like a smoothie with a slight taste of sake mixed in with the fruit. In order to give us more time to decide what we wanted to tackle for our main courses, we started with an appetizer of salt and pepper calamari. The calamari was fried and served with chili sauce to dip in. The portion size of calamari was substantial for an appetizer as we were splitting it between just two people. The calamari itself was cooked to perfection as it was not too chewy and the fried coating was a nice complement to the fish.
While we were eating our appetizer, we put in our orders for our entrees. One of the many appeals of Spicy 9 is that they offer buy one, get one free sushi rolls so naturally we each ordered two of their Special Roll sushi options. We decided to order four rolls that we were both interested in so that we could share. I ordered the Volcano Roll and the Flaming Salmon Roll and she ordered the Stop Drop and Roll and the Sexy Girl Roll. After we ordered our four rolls, our waiter was back soon with both of our entrees. We were just putting the finishing touches on our calamari when he glided over to our table with a plate in each hand. The Volcano Roll was exactly what I had in mind: a baked California Roll that was topped with spicy scallops. Scallops are my favorite type of shellfish and Spicy 9 was able to do them justice.
The Flaming Salmon Roll was unlike any sushi I had tried before. The roll came wrapped up in foil on a scalding hot plate. Once you unwrap the foil you will not even be able to see the sushi as it is completely covered with a concoction of seared salmon, spicy mayo and masago which combined together to resemble a sort of cheese spread. Once I got over my initial surprise at the appearance of the roll, I popped one in my mouth and it was delicious. The salmon and spicy mayo was an outstanding combination and the spicy crab, avocado and cream cheese on the inside were all excellent.
The two rolls that my girlfriend ordered were also winners. The Stop Drop and Roll featured soft shell crab on the inside along with cucumber and avocado and was topped with tuna, spicy mayo and eel sauce. The Sexy Girl Roll had a classic sushi staple: shrimp tempura, along with cucumber and avocado and topped with spicy crab. The portion size of the rolls was more than adequate, especially considering that they were buy one, get one free.
We came to the restaurant famished and the combination of the calamari appetizer and the four rolls that we split were enough food that we couldn't even be tempted by the delicious dessert menu that they offer. Next time we eat there we will make sure to save enough room for dessert as the fried ice cream looked especially appetizing. I have been to many sushi restaurants before and I would say that Spicy 9 is near the top considering its affordability, location, service and taste are all great selling points.
By Guest Blogger: Jonathan L.