CORNELIUS – Sushi restaurants never fail to impress with intricate rolls laid out like artwork on plates.

However, it’s been awhile since sushi has surprised. Sure we’ve seen pink soy wrappers, the introduction of bacon and rolls wrapped in cucumber, but these have now become run-of-the-mill.

Sushi at the Lake, however, is on the forefront of avant-garde roll creations that are sure to tempt taste buds and entice your sense of culinary adventure.

Sokhun Moon, co-partner and head chef at Sushi at the Lake, goes simply by Moon. He came to the United States from Korea in 1989 and worked as a bus boy, dish washer, hibachi chef and sushi chef.

Moon eventually went to UNC Charlotte to study marketing and management. However, in 1998, when the opportunity to open up Sushi at the Lake came up, he left school to help start the venture.

“We had to educate the customers about sushi. Many had never tried it before,” Moon said. “I’d start them with something simple, and they would usually come back for more.”

Moon also began experimenting with different types of sushi rolls that could tempt those who did not want a piece of sashimi (fresh raw fish sliced very thin).

The Tornado Roll is one such roll. The filling is standard fare of cream cheese, avocado, tempura shrimp and snow crab. It is the wrap that makes it special. They take thin strands of potato ‘noodles’ and wrap it around the roll, flash fry it and serve it up. It’s like a fresh potato chip is encasing the ingredients.

The tuna tower is also both a work of art and a study in innovation. The fresh tuna and avocado sit upon a cylinder of deep fried sushi rice, giving it a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.

And the menu doesn’t stop at sushi. You can find lunchtime bento boxes, tempura items, hibachi, dumplings and skewers.

The restaurant has separate lunch and dinner menus.

Lunch includes bento boxes allowing the customers to try many different items at the same time and smaller portions of entrée dishes. Plus business people can get in and out very quickly.

Dinner has more entrées and a more relaxed vibe.

Just know that everything is made after the customer orders.

The restaurant often has live music, including local and national musician Sunny Ledfurd. Customers can check the Facebook page for events and specials.

The majority of items are made in-house, including teriyaki sauce, spicy mayonnaise, ginger dressing, white fish pico de gallo, tempura ice cream and eel sauce.

He also gets fresh whole fish in several times per week, using local and national vendors to ensure the best quality and flavor. The bar has 11 types of cold saki and hot saki machine that perfectly heats the rice wine ensuring optimal piquancy.

Moon and his partners might open up another restaurant at Exit 36 in the near future. This place would have more of a Korean flavor profile in regards to the food.

“It’s hard to have just a Korean restaurant,” Moon said. “But at the new place, we might be able to introduce some Korean specialties.”

Innovative and fresh, Sushi at the Lake will continue to treat patrons with cutting-edge fare. But one ingredient is put into every dish, said Moon. You see, customers are greeted by Bob Marley as they walk through the door.

“Bob is love, man,” Moon said. “And that’s our secret ingredient. We put love into everything we cook and create.”


Want to go? Sushi at the Lake 19732 One Norman Blvd., #300, Cornelius 704-987-8080.