Chef Robin Anthony

Prime Fish

Growing restaurant serves Tokyo-style sushi

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Shrimp & Grisettes

It’s a new restaurant with just 20 seats, tucked away in a shopping center. Yet, Prime Fish has already won accolades and commands a place in Charlotte’s fine-dining sphere. That’s no small accomplishment in a city that demands excellence and consistency — and is still managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions.

Prime Fish opened in May 2021 and is chef-owner Robin Anthony’s first endeavor in the dual role. He’ll be familiar to sushi fans who have dined at Red Sake at the Village at Robinson Farm and Yama in Waverly, where he worked previously.

Anthony specializes in Edomae-style sushi, which originated in Tokyo. “Your knife skill has to be perfect — your seafood knowledge, how you keep the fish, how you process it. It’s how Japanese people ate sushi 100 years ago,” he explains.

Largely self-taught, Anthony watched YouTube videos and supplemented his growing technical skill set with dining experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. He obtained his certified sake advisor credential (roughly equivalent to that of a wine sommelier) from the Sake School of America, endorsed by the international Sake Service Institute.

At Prime Fish, Chef Anthony’s signature style is to adorn his plates with edible flowers from local farms. Pictured here are the black truffle salmon, porcelain flasks of sake and an assortment of nigiri (raw fish served over rice).

He plans to pursue the next-level credential, that of a master. With his expertise, he urges diners to let him select the best pairing to complement each meal from a list of nearly 100 kinds of sake.

Anthony also offers a formal experience known as “omakase,” a dinner in which, instead of ordering from a menu, guests enjoy the chef’s choice of the finest and freshest seasonal dishes. Prime Fish sources salmon from Denmark, tuna from Spain and yellowtail from Japan for inclusion among its “flying fish” offerings.

One hallmark of Anthony’s signature style is the use of edible flowers adorning his plates. “I get them from local farmers,” the chef states. “I want to look unique and support local greenhouses.”

One of the most popular items is seared salmon with shaved black truffle, ponzu sauce and microgreens, and another is a special roll that wraps around the seasoned soft-shell crab. Don’t be afraid to ask for the “secret” menu. It’s just a way to enjoy the serendipity of dishes that Prime Fish may offer for a limited time.

With a nearly 95% fish-based menu, the other featured dishes need to be standouts, and they are. They include tapas-style small plates of tender wagyu beef and savory smoked duck served with sweet potato and Parmesan cheese.

With the early success of the Ballantyne location, Anthony is expanding his reach. He’s opening a Cotswold location with a targeted launch date in the next few months. It will offer a to-go service for lunch and extended omakase dinners in the evenings.

In Ballantyne, a planned patio is underway that will enable Prime Fish to accommodate families, groups and reservations of up to 25 people. Anthony isn’t worried about filling those seats. “Because I’ve been making sushi in Ballantyne for four years, I have lots of customers,” he says. “People know my sushi.”