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A review: Isshin Asian Cafe

04/16/2014

Located next to Winn- Dixie in Jacksonville, Ishhin Asian Cafe offers a wide variety of dining choices, including Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine, along with unique menu selections such as fresh fruit smoothies and bubble tea. Affordable on a college student budget, Isshin offers hibachi, appetizers, dessert, soup, salad, and a full sushi menu. 

The restaurant's atmosphere is welcoming and clean. Though small, customers have the option of eating in or ordering a meal as take-out. I recommend eating in for the kind atmosphere, as well as the complimentary "Chinese donut" sometimes brought out to dine-in guests. 

Bob Lin, Ishhin's owner, can mostly be seen making sushi behind the counter or schmoozing with customers. There is a bar in front of the sushi counter, which is ideal seating for good conversation and a first-hand look at how sushi is freshly prepared at Isshin. 

I tried several menu items at Isshin over two weeks time. I started with hibachi chicken and spring rolls, which are two separate menu items. The customer definitely gets his or her money's worth. The hibachi chicken meal comes with a heaping serving of fried or steamed rice, mixed vegetables, and tender, tasty hibachi chicken, along with a side salad. Plenty of food was left over to eat later. The spring rolls were crunchy and delicious, complimented by a pink, sweet sauce. I also sampled kimchi, a spicy, pickled cabbage dish. It sounds strange, but if you're adventurous, I recommend it. 

Both the fresh smoothies and bubble tea were delicious as well. $3.50 will buy any flavored smoothie or tea, and there are choices for every taste. The “bubbles” in the tea are tapioca, which rest at the bottom of the drink and absorb the flavor of whatever tea they are served with. The tea is served with an extra large straw for drinking the beverage and the bubbles simultaneously. 

My favorite menu item so far is the grilled chicken salad, served with the house dressing. The dish itself is incredibly simple, but tastes excellent along with being affordable. I was also able to sample sushi from the regular menu and the “chef's special” menu, and prefer the more expensive chef's menu over the typical sushi rolls. The egg drop soup is also delicious, and for those with a sweet tooth, Isshin even offers fried oreos and triple chocolate cheesecake, along with a few other dessert items. 

Arguably, Isshin Asian Cafe is more affordable than the other two Asian restaurants in Jacksonville, offers a wide variety of items, and the customer service is unbeatable. 

Isshin Asian Cafe is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.- 10 p.m, and is closed on Sunday.

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