Sushi Roku, the pioneer of contemporary sushi with locations in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Scottsdale (AZ) and Las Vegas, has opened in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island. The expansive, stunning location with a dining room anchored by a 20-foot Japanese glass screen that was hand-painted. Overall, the look is stunning and yet relaxing and comfortable. This is a restaurant that can serve as a special date place just for two or else a large group’s party with equal ease. Sushi Roku is open for lunch and dinner and also has a Happy Hour from 3-6pm.
One hallmark of contemporary design happens to be a high noise level, however Sushi Roku spent quite a bit of time and money to have the restaurant acoustically designed to minimize noise from other tables. The proof was a party of 20 sitting just across from the our table, having fun, and yet from a distance of 10 feet you could barely here them. That was impressive and demonstrated what a good acoustic engineering company can accomplish.
Photo essay after the article
Several food writers and bloggers were hosted by Sushi Roku to introduce them to the menu of the Newport Beach location. The kitchen has only been running since the Grand Opening on June 1, but under the able supervision of Chef Shin Toyoda the results are already quite impressive. Chef Hiroshi Shima, Executive Chef of Sushi Roku, was also in the kitchen that night and ensured that things were running his way and that the food was as pleasing to the eye as to the taste.
The food itself was quite impressive, both to the eyes and the tastebuds. From the full bar, cocktails were served first. The signature cocktail, the Roku Fusion, was delicious, but the Ginger Lychee Martini was extraordinary, the alcohol tempered by the bright taste of the fresh ginger. A sprig of mint and a nice lychee garnished the drink, when went down easily, although it was so good you really wanted to take your time and savor every sip.
The menu includes hot and cold appetizers, sushi, robata skewers that have been grilled over Japanese Bincho charcoal, soups, rice, noodles and even a variety of complete entrees. Everything is available in the dining room, while for those who prefer there is a 16-seat sushi bar to enjoy a multitude of sushi items from fish purchased each morning by the Chef at the fish market.
Several dishes stood out that showed not only the creativity of Sushi Roku’s chefs but the attention to taste. A platter of Yellowtail Diced Chves paired several slices of excellent yellowtail sashimi with a light sauce and chives to create a wonderful sashimi plate. Another platter was the Fluke Kumquat Sashimi, with the paper-thin sliced fish covered with a delicious yuzu vinaigrette.
Albacore sashimi showcased the popular fish while Hanabi, a dish of spicy tuna tartare topped a crispy rice cake. The Blue Crab Tartare was another exceptional dish, with tasty sweet crab topped with the delicious, slightly briny sea urchin roe and then a dusting of caviar. Served in an cold bowl, this dish was a showcase of how simple ingredients can be freshly combined to make not only a dish that has magnificent taste but is also visually stunning.
Another dish that was both unusual and visually intriguing was the Crispy Seaweed Cracker with Wasabi Cream. Dried seaweed was lightly coated and fried to a crisp, creating a unusual looking but absolutely addicting crispy, light bite. Also addicting were the Shishito Peppers, sautéed with a nice sauce. They were just hot enough to keep you coming back for more.
The Robata skewers are a popular form of grilled food in Japan. At Sushi Roku, they are cooked the traditional way, over Japanese Bincho charcoal rather than gas for an authentic taste. The standout here was the Filet, Foie and Asparagus Skewer, a nicely wrapped combination that worked extremely well. An American Wagyu Beef Ribeye skewer showed why Wagyu is the synonym for excellent beef.
For dessert, Sushi Roku has several creative desserts to enjoy that combine both Japanese and Continental elements. The most unique and a must for anyone are the S’Mores, a dish that comes with not only chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows, but also with a little pot with a flame to “cook” the s’mores. Not only was this dish delicious, but a lot of fun for everyone at the table. Another delicious dessert was the Banana Flambé, essentially a Bananas Foster placed with fresh berries into a cup made out of fried wonton skins. This was another winner, with that kind of “lick your plate” taste that signifies utter deliciousness.
Overall, while barely skimming the surface of Sushi Roku’s extensive menu, the group had a nice overview of what Sushi Roku has to offer. With the quality and variety they have, combined with the creative aspect that elevates humble ingredients into masterpieces, Sushi Roku is not only a gem in theNewport Beach dining scene but a must for any fan of scrupulously fresh sushi presented in unique, delicious ways.
327 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660