Food wise, Azumi is my favorite Baltimore restaurant. It's the place to go to to get the best Sashimi, Nigiri, and Japanese cooking.
I've visited Azumi 3 times, twice having sat at the kitchen bar and last night having sat at a window table. My preference would have been to have sat at the kitchen bar but, because we were 4, a table made the most sense.
Each time I've visited, I've had the Omakase offering. It's putting yourself in the hands of the kitchen for them to give you what they believe is their best offerings of the night. The only change requested was that two of us substitute the Black Cod or Skirt Steak choice for the Branzino for the main course. We had enjoyed it so much during our last visit that we really wanted it. We've found the kitchen to be extremely accommodating to requests like this so, kudos go out to the Master Chef.
All of the food was prepared perfectly and with extreme attention to detail. As was served in our prior visits, we were served courses of Sashimi (Kampachi, Toro & Quail Egg, and Hamachi), King Crab, Nigiri (an assortment of the night's best including King Salmon, Big Eye Snapper, Tuna, Kampachi, and Tuna), the main course (Branzino, Black Cod, and Skirt Steak), and 4 different desserts. Everything was over the top delicious!
Unfortunately, where Azumi is not even near to the top of their game is that the service does not even come close to the food. In fact, it takes away from what the kitchen is turning out. It's lacking the attention to detail that comes out of the kitchen in that it's just not attentive enough. It's missing the timing quotient that should be commensurate with the kitchen. When a course is served, the proper utensils should be on the table, and the Saki or other beverages should be taken care of so, you're ready to dig in to enjoy the food while also pairing it with the food. Just looking at it as a business, I would have ordered another bottle of Saki last night if the opportunity presented itself prior to delivery of the main course........at that point, as much as I the Saki was gone, I was too far into the course to want to take the time to choose another bottle. Trying to figure out where the slip is, I wasn't able to conclude if it's the design of the restaurant (It's a long walk with no cut throughs from the kitchen to the best window tables) or the training and therefore, competence of the staff that's lending the biggest to the shortfall.
Each time I've visited, I've spent between $200 and $300 PP. It's fair to expect Azumi to be Ship Shape and working on all cylinders in every aspect of the dining experience. For me, the best way to make sure that this happens is to sit at the Kitchen Bar. If all else fails there with the wait staff, Andy or someone else behind the bar will make things happens.
I'll be back because the food is spectacular.
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