By Sarah Crosland | Photography by Tonya Price
Posted: Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2013
With its casual noodle dishes and simple stir-fries, Asian dishes would seem to be the most difficult type of cuisine to present in upscale variations. But AZN, which opened last fall in Piedmont Town Center, features an extensive menu with a dazzling array of elegant Asian-influenced offerings, all enhanced by a sleek modern setting.The restaurant is tucked in the back of the center, away from the bustle of spots like Del Friscos and Taco Mac. And while the interior is stylish with high ceilings, warm red tones, and a cozy 10-seat sushi bar, the large patio promises to steal the show as spring weather arrives. Plus, an open-air bar provides the perfect spot for indulging in one of the campyand fruitycocktails like a traditional Mai Tai, or choosing from the well-curated selection of chilled sake.While there are more complex Asian fusion dishes among the appetizers like a Japanese Ceviche tossed in a citrus dressing or the Latin American-esque Mongolian beef soft tacos, some of the top offerings in this section of the menu are the most traditional. A spicy edamame features a perfectly seasoned version of the steamed soybeans coated in chili-sesame oil. And pork dumplings are handmade and grilled, stuffed with chopped pork and crisp chives. Even the most simple soups, the hot and sour and miso, offer rich, brothy flavor.These dishes are the work of chefs Alex Chiu and Tsuyoshi Ono, both of whom have extensive backgrounds in a variety of Asian fare. Their skills stand out the most though in decadentand often less aggressively Asianentrees. A marinated-for-four-days Cantonese Roasted Duck features tender bites of bold Chinese flavor, while a Nobu-like Chilean Seabass is prepared with a miso-sake marinade, creating an almost milky sweetness. Sushi lovers can find favorites here as well in the selection of creative and often oversized rolls, like the Dynamite Lobster rolled with avocado, cucumber and asparagus and drizzled in spicy mayo and eel.And at AZN, even the check comes with an indulgent twist. Bite into one of the house made, dipped-in-milk-chocolate fortune cookies and hope that the sliver of paper says youll return soon.