It’s tough to pin down exactly what diners and critics mean when they describe a restaurant as “Asian fusion.” Is it a fusion of two Asian cuisines? Is it Asian food served in a cocktail lounge or gastropub? Lo Mein with red sauce and meatballs? It could mean anything. For Villanova’s brand new Azie on Main, it means a whole lot of delicious fish (including sushi) and traditionally western dishes with a decidedly Asian flair.
Unfortunately, the entrance to Azie on Main is tucked away in a shopping center off Lancaster Ave. next to a Staples. The location might discourage diners from eating on the beautiful large outdoor patio, but once inside, it’s easy to forget print cartridges and shopping lists. The interior oozes style with a creative seating layout and unique decor, all leading up to a large birch table in the center of the main room, flanked by spacious booths and a glowing onyx sushi bar.
And if it’s sushi you’re after, AoM is a good bet. The sushi menu is extensive, including several custom creations, an incredibly tempting sampler menu and a full list of classic a la carte rolls. We chose to start our meal off with the soft shell crab rolls — tempura crab with spicy mayo, cucumber and Masago brilliantly presented with the crab legs protruding from a few of the rolls.
We stuck with fish for our entrees, opting for the Pan Roasted Halibut and Scottish Salmon Teriyaki. The halibut was perfectly cooked, served atop a surprisingly subtle lobster and cheese risotto. Royal Trumpet Mushroom tempura topped the dish, adding to its Asian-fusion feel. However, the salmon did a better job of capturing an East-meets-West flavor combination mixing the savory taste of the fish with the sweet teriyaki sauce.
The desserts were surprisingly delicious, but that could be because the restaurant flew in one of Japan’s top pastry chefs who crafted every homemade selection. My green tea tiramisu — what sounds like it would be a gross marketing gimmick in most places — was not overpowering at all and included coffee maple syrup and marscapone creme. It also came with delicious green tea ice cream. The cumulative dessert was delightfully light and somehow refreshing.
Perhaps the most creative aspect of the dinner was the cocktails, masterminded by mixologist Jeremy Strungis. My “The Upper Level” was an imaginative mix of Hennessy VS Cognac and lemongrass sake, accented with guava puree and rosewater. It was unlike any cocktail I’ve had before — in a good way — and was smooth and summery.
AoM is the latest venture for Win Signature Restaurants, which has already developed a reputation for Main Line dining thanks to establishments including Azie Media, Mikado Thai Pepper and Flavor. Next month the company will open Parker’s Prime in Newtown Square. Azie on Main’s greatest success is in its light and refreshing preparation, from cocktails to dessert. If that’s this restaurant’s definition of Asian fusion, then Asian fusion is a very good thing.
Azie on Main
789 E Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085-1522