Thursday, August 20, 2009

Late-night sushi coming to EpiCentre

After a six-month lull in grand openings, the EpiCentre is preparing to unveil what’s sure to be the entertainment complex’s next hotspot. Enso Asian Bistro will fill a void currently felt uptown: a late-night sushi bar.

I got a sneak peek of Enso (say in-zoh) ahead of its opening next week* courtesy of co-owner Pete Lloyd, 38, a service industry veteran who’s been in the nightlife business since he was 23. (He’s currently the owner of Fire Island Grille in Myrtle Beach.)

Lloyd and partner Erez Sukarchi say they have painstakingly researched the country’s best sushi bars, studying everything from the food to the décor. Lloyd says Enso is inspired by places like Tao in Las Vegas, and Nobu and Buddakan in New York, where they met with chefs to discuss different food concepts.

“We want it to have a Vegas-type feel,” Lloyd says. “(The EpiCentre) has the sports bars and the nightclubs, but this is going to be an upbeat lounge. We like to call it ‘vibe dining.’”

The 8,000-square-foot space on the EpiCentre’s first level has been transformed into a sleek take on the Land of the Rising Sun. Bronzy reds are the color scheme throughout, reflected in sheer curtains around the bar and lining the floor-to-ceiling windows. Faux crocodile and snakeskin furniture give the place a luxurious feel. Asian-themed pieces are dotted throughout: two giant, marble fu dogs (a cross between a dragon and a lion) greet you as you enter; a Buddha sits behind the bar; a sumo wrestler watches over the lounge area; and black-and-white kung fu movies are projected onto a wall.

Patrons can choose to sit in the main dining area, at the 35-foot sushi bar, or the lounge-bar area where bar stools, booths and banquet seating are plentiful. Outdoor seating among bamboo plants accommodates another 50 people.

What sets Enso apart from other similar concepts is its location and its late service (sushi is served until 2 a.m.; regular menu items until midnight).

“No one else is doing this uptown right now,” says Bob Durkin of Bar Management Group, which manages much of the EpiCentre’s after-dark venues. “This is the one concept that people are most excited about.”

Both Lloyd and Durkin see it as a place where people will stop for dinner before a night out dancing or for a low key, late-night option.

I see the place becoming like the Nikko of uptown, where girls come dressed to kill in their cutest outfits and guys come to check them out.

*Enso is doing a soft opening this weekend ahead of its official grand opening that starts with an invite-only press party on Wednesday. Sign up for tickets to the VIP grand opening Thursday (7-9 p.m.) by clicking here.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

- - - “We want it to have a Vegas-type feel,” Lloyd says. - - -

Funny. You never hear someone in Vegas say "We want it to have a Charlotte-type feel."

Anonymous said...

Why do all the sushi places in this town have to be yuppies night clubs?

Are there any sushi places like I find in every other city that are casual.

It seems that everything in this town is going after one demographic.

Anonymous said...

Try Ru-Sans on Park it is a casual sushi place.

Anonymous said...

YAMA Sushi is awesome -- located in the Morrison Shopping Center on Sharon Road (by Earthfare). While you're there -- check out Winestore next door. Both are FABULOUS!

Anonymous said...

Agree with @12:41

"It seems that everything in this town is going after one demographic."


Charlotte continues to prove how un-cosmopolitan they are with thinking only 20 and early 30 somethings are a desirable market.

The Vegas image is actually appropriate.

It's another vapid, empty city that has little of note outside of one strip.

Anonymous said...

COO? We don't need no stinking COO.

Anonymous said...

1:12

Exactly. I also always use the word "vapid" in referring to Charlotte. I have been here 17 years and even spent part of my youth here before that. This place becomes more one dimensional every day.

It has made some good gains in ammenities, but continues to attract the same types of people mostly. Even NoDa is starting to fell like nothing more than an anti-Uptown clique.

The heart of the city is Plaza Midwood. But so much of the character here is defined by other cities.

dkirkward said...

Ru Sans is good but they also pump the techno music and yell every couple minutes, not exactly casual in my book. Don't get me wrong, I love Ru Sans.

Sushi 101 on Park is pretty casual, more of a family place than Nikko or Ru San's.

As for Enso - it sounds like another generic, trendy place. Aren't Fu Dogs Chinese anyway? Not sure why they really go with a Sushi place unless they're saying all Asian stuff is the same?

Sarah Aarthun said...

dkirkward: it's intended to be an Asian fusion place with influences from many Asian countries.

Anonymous said...

ive been inside this place, seems like a lot of money went into the upfit, combine that with some of charlottes most expensive rent and you have a high priced sushi bar in the middle of the new "entertainment district" should be a good time watching the sushi yuppies mingle with the whiskey river and wild wing crowd. good luck paying the rent

Anonymous said...

ive been inside this joint, seems as out of place as the CVS that is beside it. should be a fun time watching a high price sushi restaurant mix in with the whiskey river/ wild wing crowd though. speed week will never be the same, lol

Anonymous said...

i hate epicenter

Anonymous said...

Another sushi place...gee thanks. I love sushi and eat it several times a week, but do we really need another one? I really don't think there is too much of a market in Charlotte for sushi late at night...12:00 AM to 2:00 AM. I live uptown and can walk to 5 other sushi places...one until they close.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte-type feel" would be redneck or preppy/boring/conservative and there's already enough of that here.

Anonymous said...

You can never have enough of any one thing... why does it bother you if it's another sushi place? Most large cities have multiple sushi places and I doubt the people there complain when another one opens... only in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

R U people ever happy? Anything that happens in Charlotte all I read is people bitching about it. Move if you are that unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Simple answer to why sushi places have to be yuppies nightclubs: because yuppies are the ones that will spend their money on trendy crap like late night sushi bars. Gimme a polish sausage with mustard an onions from the street vendor at 1 a.m. over some raw fish anyday.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure everyone complaining wishes it was a Golden Corral... ahh gotta love "world class" (HAHA) Charlotte!

Anonymous said...

"i hate epicenter"

Good, it hates you too...

Anonymous said...

the other night, me and 6 of my frat brothers left buckhead saloon at 1:45am and decided we were hungry. trying to get 7 different takes on where to eat is never easy, someone wanted pizza, another wanted breakfast, 2 guys wanted a cheeseburger, but no one (even as a joke) said, too bad there isnt a late night sushi bar in town. lame idea, lame restaurant in myrtle beach too!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wonder why... because you're frat brothers... enough said... the restaurant doesn't cater to people like YOU. There's enough lame frat places around here. Montford Drive, Buckhead Saloon, and redneck Bar Charlotte comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind all the upscale stuff as it serves its purpose every now and then and I'm not going to complain about it. I would like to see a cheap, late night diner type place downtown. The old Daddy's spot (horrible name) would be a good location for it.

Anonymous said...

Just go away frat douche-boy. No one wants you around or cares what you think.

ann said...

I am not a huge sushi fan, but I'm excited to try it. Please don't judge me, I have this weird disease where I become open minded and enjoy trying new things. Crazy, I know. The doctor said maybe I should go online and complain constantly, but i'm too busy reading article on topics that interest me and that give me a positive vibe.

Anonymous said...

1:38, it's vapid only because people like you won't move!
2:18, um, i think you missed the part about "target demographic".

shut up already!!! said...

I have NEVER lived in a place where people complain soo much!

Mergers said...

I am convinced that the reason why Charlotte sucks is because of the people that live here. All they do is complain. They never try to see what's going on and participate in any activities. All they do is sit around and complain. They don't take any action and try to go out, take advantage of the city and how easy it is to navigate (not a lot of traffic) and how much cheaper the nightlife is here. They just complain and complain until they finally move somewhere they think is "cool" and then 2 years later the coolness wears off and they most likely end up here again and continue to complain about their "miserable lives".

Anonymous said...

Man I can't believe all the haters on here!! Something new opens and everyone complains lol, unbelievabele. Like you chumps have a better idea, or the money, or the cohones to even open a place. If you're not interested in going to a late night sushi joint, then don't go. You won't be missed. Like someone else said, theirs always plaza midwood and Noda.

Anonymous said...

Couple of things: 1) Generally speaking - most people are negative in general, especially the ones that feel compelled to post a comment. 2) I travel a lot. Charlotte has a lot more postive attributes than negatives. If you don't like something, please either move or do something to change it. 3) The increased competition is good for consumers. More choices mean better quality, service, and lower prices. The strong will survive. The weak or unpopular will be gone quickly. 5) Debating with ignorance is a waste of time. I think some of you should read your thoughts out loud to realize how foolish you sound.

Anonymous said...

Okay, for sure I would rather live in NYC. But I could barely afford to actually enjoy living in Manhattan. Staying in Charlotte allows me to live in a luxury hirise and cash in my pocket to go out and enjoy life a bit. I visit the city (NYC) twice a year for a week at a time to get my fill of big city life.

Charlotte is not big city, it's medium city at very best.
Don't get the two confused and you will enjoy your time in Charlotte a bit more.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:12... Plaza Midwood? You are braver than I!

Anonymous said...

The best sushi place in Charlotte has not been mentioned in the comments yet, and it's a very small and casual place...New Zealand Cafe, at the corner of Sardis and Monroe in Matthews. Expect to wait on a table, especially on the weekends, as the place is very small (only 10-12 tables inside, and 1 table outside), but everyone there is extremely nice and courteous, and the food (both the sushi and the regular menu) is incredible. Very reasonably priced too. Nikko and RuSan's are good too, but the atmosphere is completely different compared to NZ Cafe. Try it out, and you won't want any other sushi in CLT again.

Anonymous said...

China and Japan are two different countries!
“a sleek take on the Land of the Rising Sun”
The Land of the Rising Sun is Japan.
Sushi is Japanese
Sumo is Japanese

“two giant, marble fu dogs (a cross between a dragon and a lion)”
This is completely false!
Fu(or Foo) Dogs refers to actual breeds of real Chinese dogs. What you are referring to are called Chinese guardian lions, Fu (Foo) Lions, lions of Buddha, or sometimes stone lions in Chinese art, and “are a common representation of the lion in pre-modern China”. NOT a cross between a lion and a dragon.

Chinese guardian lions ( aka Fu Dogs to some) are Chinese!
Kung Fu is Chinese!
Who ever designed the décor is completely ignorant. And before anybody else chimes in with this “well its Asian fusion” nonsense first realize that the Chinese and Japanese HATE each other. This would be akin to decorating a Jewish owned Kosher deli with the Star of David on one wall and swastikas on the other.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any idea when Brueggers Bagel will be opening. That is what the epicenter lacks is a good breakfast. Those of us that enjoy staying at the Aloft on the weekend can be somewhat devastated with the lack of options in the AM.

Anonymous said...

this place will suck it will be out of business before to long

Anonymous said...

"Anon 1:12... Plaza Midwood? You are braver than I!"

Plaze Midwood is completely safe you yokel!

Anonymous said...

To the person who seems offended by the decor, get a life. There are lots of chinese restaurants that sell sushi. Fujo in Uptown has Chinese food and Japanese food. Oh my!

Anonymous said...

You have Cafe Sienna, Zink, Mimosa and Ember for Brunch. There's always the Dunhill and if you are desperate there's BoJesus.

Uptown doesn't offer many early morning weekend breakfast places. It's because everyone is too hung over and sleeping from the night before. Sleep in and grab some lunch.

Anonymous said...

I love CLT. I love Vegas. I love Sushi. I love to dress up really sexy. Perfect Place for me. Im excited.

Anonymous said...

"Uptown doesn't offer many early morning weekend breakfast places. It's because everyone is too hung over and sleeping from the night before. Sleep in and grab some lunch."


That sounds so cosmopolitan & world class!!! Thanks for backing up my point about this hamlet being one dimensional.

Anonymous said...

To: Anon @ 3:55
I totally apologize. I guess since there is another restaurant uptown that doesn't know the difference between Chinese and Japanese (and the history of the animosity between the two countries) that totally makes it OK. And since this restaurant is Uptown that automatically makes is cool and trendy to promote stupidity. Ignorance is the new black and it looks great on you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:22 PM,

I'm not denying what you say. I am just offering the only options out there for weekend breakfast.

I live uptown and if I want breakfast I either make an a$$ kicking one at home with one of the best views in town from my own table or drive to Crepe Cellar, Zada Janes, Cafe Monte, ............. hell, there aren't a lot of places even outside of uptown.

Oh yeah, LYNX it to Pewter Rose.

Anonymous said...

I hate Mondays.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't been to Amelie's in NoDa then you are missing the only semi real bakery in all of Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

IF YOU DON'T LIKE CHARLOTTE AND ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS COMPLAIN ABOUT IT, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE

Anonymous said...

To the person obsessed with Chinese vs. Japanese, cities all over the country, even in NYC and LA have restaurants that serve both Chinese and Japanese food. PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE SO ANNOYING!!! ahhhhhH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I guess if they do it in NYC and LA that totally makes it OK then.
The only reason that resturants get away with this nonsense is that most Americans are to stupid/ignorant to know the difference between the two.
Also I never said this was a problem that was unique to Charlotte.Stupidity and ignorance are flourishing all over the country, not just in charlotte. I was just pointing out the facts. Combining the two cultures/countries is absurd, some would even say offensive.

Anonymous said...

Everything in Charlotte is so much worse then where I'm from! Why'd you move here, go home nobody wants you here anyway! You're a redneck yokel! You're a stuck-up Yankee!

That should sum up 95% of comments posted in response to any Observer article about the city.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has told Latorre to make the old Daddy's bar a late night diner. It's already upfitted, just create a menu and hire the staff already.

Anonymous said...

we didnt have these negative comments before all you yankees moved down here. we understand the hot humid weather is rough on yall, but try and hang in there, its almost over.

Anonymous said...

I smell fish.

Anonymous said...

Amelie's in NoDa has the best french bagette in Charlotte. Take-n-Bake is the real deal!

Anonymous said...

Take-n-Bake fo' sure !!!

Stop the Yank hatin' ! ........ please yall.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as I am in Charlotte it must be SaLLLLLLLmon.

Anonymous said...

Will the sushi be served on nude women like in other trendy sushi bars around the globe ?

Anonymous said...

Will they offer evangelical sushi ?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the EpiCenter street corner preachers will be out yelling "fire and brimstone" to everyone who goes to eat sushi too ?

Anonymous said...

They will be there. Something in Leviticus I believe against eating shellfish. Unclean or something.

WHATEVER !

Anonymous said...

"Will the sushi be served on nude women like in other trendy sushi bars around the globe ?"

No, on gel haired douchebags with Ed Hardy shirts!!!!

Anonymous said...

A diner is opening up in the NC Music Factory. I think in Sept. Looks a bit small but should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

It's Charlotte for christ's sake ! We need a sushi-steak fusion restaurant. Nothing gets my tummy rumbling like raw octopus wrapped around a rare filet mignon.
Then charge me $60 and I'll be extremely satisfied.

Anonymous said...

""Will the sushi be served on nude women like in other trendy sushi bars around the globe ?"

No, on gel haired douchebags with Ed Hardy shirts!!!!"


LMAO !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I prefer my raw fish smothered in grits and wrapped inside a tasty biscuit.

Anonymous said...

SUPER. Wish them well!

Anonymous said...

I thought no new establishments were allowed to open because of the expired permit problem at the epicentre. Anyone have any info on this?

Everything at the epicentre sucks because it is so mainstream. So, I'm hoping this place will give me a reason to go to the epicentre to get something new and different, other than the *&^% that is there now.

Anonymous said...

Will they have BBQ sushi ? If so, Western or Eastern Carolina style ?

Anonymous said...

Something smells funny...........

Kidding aside, I hope they do well.

Anonymous said...

Can I eat my sushi while I am naked ?

Anonymous said...

It's FRIDAY !!!
CHEERS EVERYONE !!!!

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is the most contrived place. Everything is done according to how it will 'play'; nothing is spontaneous. And don't tell me to move because I already have. To Wilmington!

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte is the most contrived place. Everything is done according to how it will 'play'; nothing is spontaneous. "

Never thought of it that way but you are soooooo right!!!

Anonymous said...

What's your favorite part of the website? The "Coming Soon" / "Now Open" side-by-side on the top? Or the complete lack of information?

http://www.ensocharlotte.com/