We Southerners know how to put a unique spin on food, giving culinary traditions just a little tweak to make them our own. Break out the chopsticks as we explore some of our favorite local Asian spots that offer a decidedly Southern influence.
Maki Fresh offers fast, casual Asian fare, like sushi and rice bowls, as well as more traditionally American options like salads and sliders. The crispy Brussels sprouts are at the top of our list every time we visit this place. And while they’re on the menu as a side dish, we add chicken, and suddenly these delectable veggies over a bed of brown or white rice become a perfect meal. The tempura-battered onion rings are served with Maki Fresh’s signature spicy sauce for a unique Japanese twist on a classic side dish. The beef sliders are made from local beef and served with housemade pickles and Maki spicy sauce. Chicken sliders are prepared with chunks of grilled chicken, napa cabbage, mango and jicama, while the salmon sliders feature arugula and a wasabi aioli. Sushi is made to order, but also available prepackaged and ready to go in the cold case. Maki Fresh also offers family dinners and catering services.
Maki Fresh has two Birmingham locations:
- Wells Fargo Tower, 420 20th St. N., Birmingham • (205) 458-4040 • Hours: Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- 2800 Cahaba Village Plaza, Birmingham • (205) 970-3242 • Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Jinsei is an upscale, dinner-only Japanese sushi bar and lounge. With fish flown in fresh daily from all over the world, this place leaves you feeling like you just stepped into another world. But Southern hospitality reigns, and the food presentation here is second to none. The signature dish is the Kadoma Tuna, a beautifully crafted work of art featuring spicy tuna atop a tempura rice cake decorated with avocado, tobiko (flying fish roe), jalapeño and eel sauce. Our personal favorites are the Spider Salad with two soft-shell crabs, microgreens, mango, daikon, red onion and a spicy coconut dressing, and the Maguro Ringo, raw tuna with Honeycrisp apples and locally made Stone Hollow Farmstead goat cheese. Kobe flank steak with iceberg on a fresh housemade bun is a great alternative to fish and sushi. A great date night or GNO spot, Jinsei does not accept reservations, but does have a private garden table that can be reserved for special occasions.
Jinsei is located at 1830 29th Ave. S., Homewood, and opens daily at 5 p.m. (205) 802-1440
At 26 you can expect fusion fare with a fresh twist. The interior boasts an Art Deco-meets-industrial-chic vibe, and the food is prepared with a craftsman’s eye, so each dish is as beautiful to behold as it is to consume! Crispy shrimp spring rolls are deep fried to golden perfection and feature Gulf Coast shrimp and local microgreens served with hot mustard and a sweet chili sauce. The chicken satay salad is a StyleBlueprint favorite, with tender chicken skewers artfully arranged atop a bed of crisp romaine with oranges, red bell peppers, green beans, cilantro, slaw, cashew nuts and crispy wonton strips tossed in a sesame dressing. If you like a little heat, order the Thai-spiced beef tenderloin, which features just the right amount of kick and is cooled off with a foil of cucumber, tomato, red onion and romaine and topped with a horseradish aioli. Sushi is served at dinner only, but plentiful portions make sharing dishes easy at 26.
26, located at 1210 20th St. S., Southside, is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday. Hours are Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturdays 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (205) 918-0726
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