The folks at Sushi Roku recently welcomed Corporate Executive Chef Tyson Wong into the fold to helm the sushi destination’s three restaurants in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Pasadena. New menu offerings now include Santa Barbara sourced uni.
I’ve always been fascinated by Sushi Roku so I was jazzed to try Chef’s new menu items. Chef Tyson is a former “Iron Chef” alum and some of his new dishes include Tuna & Beet Carpaccio, Grilled Octopus, and Spicy Pork Belly “Kakuni” Fried Rice.
Unfortunately Chef didn’t take on the cocktail menu, which is too sickeningly sweet for my taste. I couldn’t find a drink that I thought I would like so if you’re a fan of handcrafted cocktails, you’re out of luck so think beer, sake or wine. But dinner was all about the new menu. The uni is actually sourced from Ocean Queen, a 41 year-old family run business based out of Santa Barbara, where the confluence of warm and cold waters off the Channel Islands makes the area an ideal location to dive and harvest the delicacy.
During our recent feast at the Santa Monica Sushi Roku, which is celebrating its 18th anniversary, we started with the Aji Crudo, Jack Mackerel, ginger relish, and Aji Amarillo sauce, followed by Nori Senbei—a crispy seaweed cracker served with wasabi cream. These are nice starter items, as is the Yellowtail Diced Chilies with olive oil and garlic ponzu.
A special treat is the Blue Crab Tartare with caviar appetizer and Japanese style Uni Udon entrée. Another fun starter is the Popcorn Shrimp Tempura served with spicy creamy sauce. Likewise, I was a fan of the light and fresh Tuna Sashimi Carpaccio prepared Katana style.
Since I’m a Caesar Salad purist, I wasn’t really fond of the Scottish Salmon “Caesar” prepared with shaved parmesan crouton and soy wasabi dressing. I like the creativity but didn’t care for the salad, especially not with the “Caesar” reference.
The King Crab Lettuce Cups with chili oil butter sauce is a better “greens” dish. Another unique offering is the Uni Udon—Japanese style sea urchin pasta. This is hearty item but far from the best uni pasta dish in town (that goes to Bestia!) but still, it’s clever and something you won’t find just anywhere.
Funny enough, and to my complete surprise, my favorite new item was the Spicy Pork Belly “Kakuni” Fried Rice served with a fried egg. Who would have thought? But the pork belly was just plain delicious. It was so tender and flavorful. I couldn’t get enough of this one. More please!
Another surprise was how bland the Baked Crab Handroll was. Really, neither of the crab items I tried was really on mark, which I couldn’t believe. Likewise, the Seared Albacore Sashimi with fried onions and garlic ponzu was off. But get the pork belly fried rice and all will be good. Another favorite was the Katana Roll with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura topped with tuna and yellowtail.
Serving bold sushi dishes since 1997, Sushi Roku specializes in inventive and globally inspired Japanese cuisine. The atmosphere is upscale yet laid back and you can be sure to count on fresh and fine fare to indulge in.
Sushi Roku is located in Santa Monica, Pasadena and West Hollywood.
Photography courtesy of :Sushi Roku
Story by Jose Martinez