At first blush, it was hard to get a read on this newish (two-month-old) sushi joint with the solid pedigree (it's a sib of Genji/SanSu) and the blunt and curious name of Aoi.

My first impressions were head-scratching. It was semi-swanky and mood-settingly dark in there, but cheesy dance music was playing and the unmistakeable whiff of cooking oil infiltrated my nostrils. The smallish, primarily Japanese menu was skimpy on "specialty roll" descriptions (I'd find these later on the sushi menu) yet it highlighted several (specialty-roll-heavy) "combo meals" that called for deep commitments of time, money and stomach space. And then there was the totally flummoxing "all you can eat" pasta section (?!?). It'd be fair to say confidence wasn't coursing through my veins.

Things got even odder--but not in a bad way--when I was handed an iPad replete with pretty photos of sushi rolls (if still no descriptions) and on the wall over my shoulder, I spied a surprising quote by Bertrand Russell, the brilliant English philosopher. (Here I began re-scanning the menu for punny menu items: Deep fried Karl Poppers anyone? Or how about a chilly Witgen-Stein of ice cold sake?) Then the food started rolling out...and it was absolutely beautiful and absolutely delicious--really, really impressive! I loved this starter duo of ceviche salad with pleasingly bitter notes and rich, ultra-fresh fatty tuna; and the starkly spare silky tofu trio (each topped with a different relish) was a delight for the eyes and fun to wrangle.

This lobster roll had great potential for catastrophe but it was terrific with its generous amounts of sweet meat ratcheted up by Kewpie mayo

Lollipop, lollipop, I loved these lollipops! Clever cucumber rolls bursting with juicy vegetal/fruity bites were the gateway to delicious salmon, tuna and crab stick (I decided not to hold a grudge against the latter element since the entirety of the lovely lolly was so utterly fun and wonderful-tasting)

And I was tickled how this impossible-to-resist pork belly had a hard candy-like shell and physically mimicked sushi rolls (or petit fours, for that matter)

Expect a review in Alive soon.