MOORESVILLE – Paolo Jose efficiently sets down a gorgeous platter of sushi artfully arranged on a large plate. As he explains the guacamole roll, complete with fried onions, baked Tilapia and cream cheese, it is clear the man has a love of food.
Jose is a Johnson and Wales University graduate and has family in the business. But J.J. Wasabi’s is his baby and the touches through the décor and food show someone who is willing to take risks as long as it pleases the customers.
The restaurant opened in 2010 in what used to be a shoe store, but that is hard to imagine. The ceilings and floors are black with booths lining the windows and tables throughout the middle section. Hanging lights covered in rattan give the space a cozy, muted glow. A bar runs almost the length of the room with a cut out and then turns into a sushi bar.
The waitresses flit about the space offering refills and calling everyone “sweetheart.” It’s a beautiful blend of Asian and Southern all under one roof.
Customers can choose from appetizers, tempura, salads, soups, Japanese steakhouse dishes and Asian grill dishes. There is also an entire section devoted to American favorites such as hamburgers and sandwiches. This makes it the perfect place to go with a big crowd or two people who can’t decide on a genre of food. The excellent thing is that even with the large menu, there are small touches that make every dish special.
On the sushi platter, there are small lines cut into the perfect sphere of wasabi. Or the spring rolls are laid out like rays of the sun around the sweet chili sauce. This is what makes J.J. Wasabi’s a local favorite in Mooresville.
Jose is always listening to customers and creating specials and new offerings.
In fact, Katsu chicken is about to appear on the menu. The chicken is pounded thin, breaded and then lightly fried. It is served to the customer with rice, cabbage and a mortar and pestle. The last item is used to grind the black and white roasted sesame seeds at the table. The seeds are then mixed with Katsu sauce to make a dip for the chicken. The taste is wonderfully fresh and will certainly be a favorite among customers who can control the nuttiness of the sauce.
The sushi is also a place that Jose and his patrons can get creative.
“We can really tailor rolls to the customer,” said Jose. “Almost anything they want to put together, we can do.”
This is easy to do as everything in the restaurant is cooked to order and the majority of items are made in-house; even the bread. So any sort of allergy is no problem as they can simply adapt or swap items for the guest.
There is also a kid’s menu for the little ones.
Joanne Bellaria, of Cornelius, absolutely loves the restaurant. Her favorite item is the spicy chicken coconut curry.
“You know this place is just really good,” Bellaria said. “I come up often to eat here.”
J.J. Wasabi’s does a meticulous job with the gigantic menu, making the customer feel as if their entree is the only one.
“We have a lot of fun with the menu,” Jose said. “And we will give the customer whatever he or she wants. We just want everyone to leave happy.”
Want to go? J.J. Wasabi’s Grill and Bar, 183 N. Main St., Mooresville, 704-799-0068.