The Sushi Making Class
We sold out our sushi making classes in January and February 2021. We will schedule more classes this coming spring, but grab your kit and sushi knives before hand.
Celebrated by Charlotte Magazine and Creative Loafing for whipping up some of the most irresistible rolls in town, the Sushi Guru definitely lives up to his moniker. Benefit from his wisdom during a beginner-friendly sushi-making class:
• $79($150 value) for a sushi-making class for two including materials and sake
• Classes will be announced in March; classes will meet on Tuesdays from 7 :00 – 8:30 pm.
During class, you’ll learn all the techniques to make your very own maki rolls, from slicing the pieces evenly to getting the rice to stick together and keep its shape. Even if your creation isn’t perfect, it’s bound to be delicious, and you’ll get to gobble up your finished roll at the end of the session and toast to your success with included sake as well as our signature roll and edamame.
The Guru Returns
At first glance, not much has changed at Sushi Guru & Sake Bar except, of course, the name. Housed in the former location of Cyros Sushi, the SouthPark restaurant is still small and intimate, with a modest sushi bar and a handful of tables.
Executive Chef Cy Santos, who was also executive chef and co-owner of Cyros, is in the kitchen once again. The décor is understated: pink salt votive holders glow atop the tables and contemporary art adorns the walls.
But a look at the menu reveals that Sushi Guru is much more versatile than its predecessor, which boasted—and delivered—“nothing but sushi.” First up: a number of small plates and chilled specialty items, including shrimp shumai ($8), eight bite-sized steamed dumplings alongside a pungent XO dipping sauce, and a tuna avocado salad ($11), tangy and refreshing, with delicate cubes of fresh tuna and avocado lightly dressed in a sesame vinaigrette.
Knowledgeable servers are happy to assist in navigating the menu, and there are no bad choices on the small but carefully chosen wine, beer, and sake list—any selection will nicely complement the food. And while there are plenty of traditional sushi rolls and nigiri to choose from, the restaurant’s inventive specialty rolls are the standouts. The Guru’s Roll ($13) is an unusual mix of flavors and textures, with tuna, lump crab, and avocado drizzled with a spicy aioli, flash-baked until slightly warm, then topped with fried garlic and shallots. The Fujisan Roll ($10) offers a satisfying crunch, pairing spicy lump crab and ripe avocado with slices of Fuji apple, topped with eel and crispy wonton strips.
If you only order one specialty roll, make it the Hamachi Jalapeño Roll ($12), which includes delicate pieces of crab and avocado topped with slices of fresh yellowtail (Hamachi) and paper-thin slices of jalapeño, drizzled with a wasabi citronette for a tangy, citrusy taste and a hint of jalapeño flavor without the spiciness.
Already a solid option for Charlotte sushi-philes, look for Guru’s fresh sushi and adept servers to make it even more of a crowd-pleaser soon: an expansion is planned for completion before the end of the year.
Sushi lovers come in three camps: the penny pinchers, the traditionalists and the experimentalists. Those looking for inexpensive sushi typically will find it in restaurants that are less selective with their ingredients. The atmosphere in these eateries often distracts from the plate, and some establishments even prepare the sushi ahead of time and place it in a buffet line.
Traditionalists are the sushi lovers who will flock to the opening this week of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the renowned itamae (or, Japanese chef) proclaimed by many as the best in the world. Ono prepares 20 pieces of sushi, served one at a time to his customers in a tiny sushi bar inside a Tokyo train station. Old-school devotees come to Ono’s sushi bar in reverent adoration – nothing needs to be changed, but perfection must be attempted.
The experimentalists want something outside the box (er, roll); creativity driven by flavor with impeccable ingredients. No one in Charlotte does this better than Cy Santos. His Hamachi Jalapeno roll with the alternating sweetness of crab and the unctuousness of avocado spiked with a wasabi citronette is all that.
In March, Sushi Guru and Sake Bar opened in the space that was once Cyros Sushi and Sake Bar, in the back of a small enclosed shopping center (which also houses Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen) in SouthPark. Santos was part owner of Cyros, which was the outgrowth of a catering company that supplied made-on-site sushi to professional sporting events, wine bars and other establishments. Many people in Charlotte came to know Santos and his creative spin on sushi at these venues.
Now, owner Rico Garcia has opened Sushi Guru with Santos in the position of executive chef. Structurally, the interior is the same, with a small 8-seat sushi bar area in the front where patrons can watch the newly installed machine that pops out pillows of rice for nigiri when the place is jammed. The dining area is small, only 49 seats, but Garcia plans to expand into a neighboring space and include some outside dining later this year.
Sushi Guru is a local’s place, frequented by restaurateurs, chefs and folks from the SouthPark neighborhood. No glitz, just great food.
Several of the specialty rolls, like the Hamachi, pack heat. Guru’s signature spicy aioli seems to benefit from a hit of Sriracha. Sauces are prime ingredients of most of the signature rolls, thus precluding dunking them into soy and wasabi. A native Filipino, Santos’ predilection for heat thrives under his steady hand. But not too much heat. Many of the dishes here are just fun: Bluefin tuna with wasabi, creme fraiche Kobe beef carpaccio with fried onions, arugula, yuzu soy, and truffle oil; and a sashimi pizza.
At Guru, you could order a single roll or a feast; dine with one or many sliced by our favorite sushi knives. Not all items are inventive — traditional rolls are on the menu, too — but why have the same-old same-old when Santos’ Caribbean roll is lush with Japanese scallops, barbecue eel, sliced avocado, and sweet gourd?