Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seaside sushi

Sushi Roku has several locations, including the one I wrote about in an earlier post in Pasadena, but a more low key version is on Ocean in Santa Monica. There isn't a view of the Ocean from the restaurant, but the decor is so calming and peaceful, you won't mind missing the Pacific while you are eating. You can always take a stroll along the coastline later, so think of the view as your treat after lunch or dinner. With wonderful appetizers like Lobster medallions with truffle pomegranate glaze or a Kobe beef tataki with garlic and ponzu, why would anyone look up from their plates anyway? If you go for dinner, they have a Chilean Sea bass with truffle miso glaze and sauteed spinach that will leave you smiling with the contentment that comes from enjoying every bite of skillfully prepared innovative food that enhances the quality of the fish. For sake lovers, they offer premium sakes from Japan that are the equivalent of vintage wines from France, all with notes on the subtle flavors and possible pairings with menu items. Even for non sake drinkers they offer creative cocktails like the Kyoto Rose, made with Belvedere Vodka and white tea Bulgarian roses that is garnished with a rose petal. It's no wonder that this is known for both traditional sushi and sashimi, as well as upscale indulgence.

One great seaside sushi place is not enough, so further south on Ocean Ave. is Tengu. Tengu is the God of mischief, and this is a place where you can get into mischief while eating your meal overlooking the ocean. This place is a hot night spot with DJ's and a busy bar scene, so you might want to go for a late dinner and hang out (or go for lunch and not get into any mischief). Whatever your quota for fun, their food is worth trying. Like Sushi Roku, they offer hot and cold, so you can combine cold and hot dishes like the kanpachi carpaccio (baby yellowtail) with truffle oil, yuzu-soy dressing, black pepper, and chives, then go to a hot dish like the jalapeno-miso marinated Chilean sea bass with grilled garlic shoots, jalapeno,chili-lime sauce. This is a wonderful place for vegetarians; they offer very inventive salad combinations like the Asian pear & arugula salad, with pomegranate, walnut, crumbled danish buttermilk bleu cheese with an apple-cider vinaigrette. I have never gotten around to tasting the meat dishes offered here, simply because the fish has been so good, but they do offer a full menu of "land" dishes with several cuts of beef, lamb and chicken for meat lovers. While some restaurants/wine bars offer tastes of several different vintners so you can have your own private wine tasting, at Tengu, they offer a sake flight of three sakes. It's a great idea to introduce premium sakes to customers who can compare sakes without a big commitment.

Seaside sushi by the seashore; try saying that three times fast!

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