Venue Review: eeZ Fusion and Sushi
The Charlotte Observer
6925 Birkdale Commons Pkwy. Suite F, Huntersville
The name of the place - eeZ, and yes, that's how you spell it - gives you a good general idea: kind of funky, a mix of styles and foods, and a clear emphasis on making people comfortable.
Servers are bright, and the restaurant is cleverly carved into a multitude of seating options so that wherever you end up in the rather massive space, you feel you're in more intimate digs. There's a sushi bar, different sections of patio, and several dining areas. Kids are welcome (that was obvious on our visits), and there's plenty for them to look at, from rustic flutes suspended from the ceiling to calligraphy on the walls.
Sushi proved the best option, by far.
In the Mango Tango roll, for example, listed among fusion specialties within the sushi menu, yellowfin and albacore tuna with jalapeno and scallions go inside, then slices of both tunas are draped over top, with tuna mango salsa atop that, and raspberry sauce as garnish. Yes, the raspberry is one thing too many, if you're guessing that, and the roll, while generous, costs $20, which is steep. But the flavors are a solid, bright combination, and you don't feel cheated.
There are dozens of other rolls, with a handful of traditional ones clearly outnumbered by the fusion entries. If you enjoy playing around and aren't hidebound, these are definitely the direction in which to go. Nigiri and sashimi are adequate, not compelling, so traditionalists may be disappointed.
Otherwise, the place is a culinary jack of all trades, with the trades ranging from Chinese and Japanese to American (a category into which I'm lumping things like blackened New York strip with crab) and fusion (a category into which I'm lumping things like "bokchoy couscous").
Our sampling of the various styles confirmed my preference for eeZ's sushi, and sushi alone. Lettuce wraps had a too-wet, clunky filling, while cedar plank salmon arrived severely overcooked, under a deliriously sweet barbecue sauce and over a couscous (regular kind) that was lumpy and dry. Kung pao shrimp had little taste; pad thai less. Sweet potato fries (yes!) showed up limp and greasy.
eeZ offers make-your-own dishes, from stir-fry (you choose your vegetables from a flower-strewn bar) to maki rolls (you list what you'd like from a fairly long list of possibilities). I'd trust the maki, but I'm guessing stir-fries may not prove well executed, since the kung pao was so dully cooked.
Servers are smart, collaborative and quick to help. Ours one night strongly recommended the Mango Tango as a standout among the fusion offerings, and was able to make good wine suggestions for other dishes. That's no small feat with a menu this scattered.
Clearly the place works to gratify differing appetites, and judging from how busy it was on both our visits, folks are finding dishes they like.
Perhaps doing so much is making doing it well impossible.