SATISFYING INNOVATIVE DINING ON SUNSET STRIP
Not to be confused with Sushi Roku, which offers satisfying sushi and then some in Santa Monica and Pasadena, ROKU, another hip dining destination by Innovative Dining Group which also oversees Sushi Roku, BOA, Katana, and Robata Bar, has taken the art of Asian cuisine, including sushi and Teppanyaki, to new heights in its eye-candy filled Sunset Strip location.
Housed in the former Rivabella space, which was a devastatingly beautiful location, ROKU manages to create an even more gorgeous restaurant that also challenges traditional Teppanyaki to sharpened standards, combining a cutting-edge setting with exceptional ingredients and impeccable sushi. Teppan chefs prepare A-5 Japanese Wagyu, Matsuzaka beef, Santa Barbara spot prawns and other high-quality ingredients at interactive grill tables. ROKU’s menu offers new style appetizers, inventive entrees and select favorites from the iconic Sushi Roku brand alongside a vast selection of handpicked sakes, crafted cocktails and the largest selection of Japanese whiskey in the L.A. culinary scene.
Walk inside and you’ll definitely be taken with the lovely space, which offers three distinct dining opportunities with its Teppanyaki Room where you can experience interactive Hibachi dining as your personal chef prepares your meal at your Teppan Grill table; Patio Dining where you can enjoy ROKU’s progressive menu while enjoying its impressive indoor/outdoor space; and Sushi Bar where Chef Jiro Kobayashi prepares some of the freshest fish daily in both traditional and modern sushi preparations.
During our recent visit for dinner, we were immediately won over by the lovely space and started our wonderful evening out with a solid cocktail. The Hibiscus Negroni, made with gin, hibiscus liqueur, Campari and Dolin blanc was a solid and standout Negroni. Now this was a great way to start a night out on the town.
I have to say that I was impressed with the cocktail program at ROKU as a lot of times the chic hotspots in town often fail when it comes to good handcrafted drinks. But I enjoyed some fine libations. Sure, the Jasmine’s Passion made with rum and passion fruit was too sweet for my liking but the Silent Smoke made with El Silencio Mezcal, yuzu, agave, fresh grapefruit and Black Sea salt was absolutely delicious. Likewise, the Old Osaka with Habiki Harmony, sugar and black walnut bitters worked as a fine Japanese Old Fashioned. Fans of Tiki should get to know the Pacific Scorpion which was a pleasing blend of house-infused Svedka Clementine, coconut, pineapple, passion fruit, watermelon, guava and lychee.
An absolute homerun of a starter item was the Sea Bass Sliders, which were simply fantastic. I have to admit I’m a big sea bass fan so this one was just perfect for me. And the Hibachi Shrimp Salad from the Teppanyaki Grill prepared with shaved vegetables and honey soy vinaigrette was just lovely.
I wasn’t won over by the Grilled Avocado (nice try but not grilled enough) but the Foie “Hanabi” served with crispy rice with foie gras and kumquat jam was delicious. This was a stunning presentation of foie gras. I couldn’t get enough.
The wood roasted cauliflower was a very flavorful dish as was the Tuna Tataki Figs served with goat cheese and almond sauce. I want more of that right now!
A favorite specialty roll was the EBI Tuna with shrimp tempura topped with tuna, jalapeño vinaigrette and eel sauce. This dish really came to live when paired with a nice cold sake.
Two of my absolute favorite dishes that I will keep going back for were the Lobster Noodles, and the Grilled Octopus. The Lobster Noodles from the Teppanyak Grill were prepared with Nova Scotia lobster and black sesame and were among the best noodles I’ve ever had. I swear I think this noodle dish can give Crustacean’s beloved Garlic Noodles a run for its money. I see a food competition in my future.
But let’s not forget about the Grilled Octopus with kimchi vinaigrette and pickles, which was so flavorful and absolutely delicious. It easily held its own in my heart even though this night ended up being all about the tasty lobster noodles.
And in the last but not least category, the Live Shrimp, an off menu item that was brought out for me, was fine and fresh, even if the shrimp head wasn’t moving when it was brought to the table.
For our decadent dessert we went with the Chocolate Volcano Cake served with warm molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Believe me, this bad boy did not disappoint. And if you’re a lover of liquid dessert like I am, then get a Late Night Sazerac made with Hakushu 12-year, St. George Liqueur, and orange and chocolate bitters as your nightcap. You’ll be happy you did.
I have to give big props to Innovative Dining Group for designing such an awe-inspiring destination in ROKU while managing to come up with an equally pleasing drink and food menu. A lovely setting, good drink, great food and fine company, what more can you ask for?
ROKU is located at 9201 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. Lunch hours: Mon-Fri 12pm to 2pm. Dinner: Sunday from 5:30pm to 10pm; Mon-Thurs 5:30pm to 10:30pm, Fri & Sat from 5:30pm to midnight. Call 310-278-2060.
Story by Jose Martinez