ROSEMARY BEACH — On its website, Aqua Coastal Sushi is described as “urban chic and sexy.” It also emphasizes “creative food in a cool atmosphere.”
Aqua Coastal Sushi is visually appealing. And the menu is filled with interesting sounding items. But something gets lost in the execution.
Our server explained to us that Aqua Coastal Sushi is a tapas-style sushi restaurant. Each section of the menu features small plates. Dishes are composed with exotic ingredients and unusual combinations.
Salmon is served with truffle oil, sesame and sriracha. A salmon roll featuring eel, avocado and banana. Crab and whitefish are teamed with melon, coconut .h and honey. Despite the creativity, the resulting dishes were generally bland.
And there were issues that didn’t impact the flavor, but diminished the enjoyment of the meal. Some items were difficult to eat. The Lobster Melon Sunomono was a salad of lobster meat and three kinds of melon. It also included cucumber served as a long spiral, making the dish difficult to share (and impossible to eat with the chopsticks that had been provided).
Although it is not necessary that a sushi restaurant do things just like every other sushi restaurant to be good, sometimes common practices are there because they work.
At most sushi restaurants, large orders of sushi come out on a single tray or two. At Aqua Coastal Sushi each roll gets its own plate.
They come to the table as they are prepared, which means if everything isn’t being shared, some diners have no food while others eat. In our case the rolls came out fast, and there was not enough room on the small table for the food we had ordered.
Sauces are also served in the center of each dish instead of on the roll. It was unsuccessful with the sticky eel roll sauce, which caused the rice to come off and stay in the dish.
All dishes are small servings, even the $20-$30 Hot Rocks items (Kobe beef, tuna and duck) that you cook on a hot stone at your table. Our beef dish was 4 1/2 bite-size slices of beef served with three sauces.
Kids can choose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich served as a roll, a banana nutella roll, chicken with sweet and sour sauce, and a fruit bowl.
Our server recommended the chocolate sushi roll for dessert. It featured sweet sticky rice, coconut and chocolate. It was very sweet and tasted like a high end Mounds candy bar.
Aqua Coastal Sushi offers sake (cold only) and sake cocktails that go well with the food served. There is also a wine list with some nice bottles, but it seems more suited to a restaurant that doesn’t focus on Asian cuisine. Excellent teas are offered. Options include jasmine pearl, silver needle and turmeric ginger.
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful. There is also a lovely outside seating area.
But it was very dark. It is not unusual for those of us of a certain age to need our phone flashlights to read a menu.
But when you need it to see the food, the atmospheric lighting is detracting from the main event at a restaurant.
The staff at Aqua Coastal Sushi was not rude, but not welcoming either. Our server knew little about the menu, and gave us incorrect information several times.
Aqua Coastal Sushi prides itself on creativity and doing things that are out of the ordinary. But when a dish was delivered to the table, there was not a word about what was being served. Food was delivered without a word at all.
A final taste
Aqua Coastal Sushi is a lovely restaurant with some intriguing ideas when it comes to the food.
If the creative forces behind the restaurant will put themselves in the shoes of a guest, the elements keeping the restaurant from reaching its potential can be overcome.
Restaurant: Aqua Coastal Sushi
Location: 5 Main Street, Rosemary Beach
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Handicap accessibility: good
Children’s menu: yes
Reservations: not accepted
Price range: Sushi, soup, salads and other menu items, $6 - $20
Hot Rocks, $20 - $30
Children’s menu, $6
Payment: major credit cards