327 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
I have to admit that when I started writing this blog, I was not really a big fan of sushi. I'm sure it's not really a shock to regular readers that this was the case. I mean, we go out for burgers, Italian food, hot dogs, and breakfast all the time, but sushi was something that I only ate, because I had to satisfy Katie's cravings for it. She would eat it once a week if I liked it more. We settled on going once every other month, but after eating at the latest sushi joint to hit Fashion Island, I might even want it more often than her.
Sushi Roku opened up earlier this month, and before they started serving their cuisine to the public, we got a special sneak peek at a lot of their menu. Sushi Roku is part of the Innovative Dining Group, which includes Katana, the Robata Bar, Soleto Trattoria and Pizza Bar, and the world famous Boa Steakhouse. I've never been to Boa, but know of it because that's where the paparazzi hangout to snap pictures of the rich and famous.
There were no rich and famous on this night, just a bunch of hungry food media checking out this new spot, which is located across the parking lot from True Food Kitchen and Fleming's, and situated in the old Pascal space. I never ventured into that restaurant, but from listening to others, they all remarked on what a nice job Sushi Roku did remodeling this space. I heard that it is now much lighter than it was before, and earth tones abound here, with a very modern feel to the 5,100 square foot space. We were all seated on the covered and heated patio, which I can imagine will become a coveted seat here at Sushi Roku. We were served tray passed items off of their menu, so let's take a look at some of the offering from Sushi Roku.
Sushi Roku was very generous when it came around to getting us drinks, and I tried two of their signature cocktails. The first one I did not quite catch the name of, but a lot of people remarked that they thought it was too strong, but I found the opposite to be true. It was a little too sweet for my tastes. Just like Goldilocks, the one I found to be just right for me was the Far East Mule, which is their take on the trendy Moscow Mule. This version utilizes gin, fresh lime juice, Thai basil, cucumber, and ginger beer. This version is as refreshing as the original cocktail, and I liked the inclusion of the gin here, as it gave an extra bite to this beverage. Not a cocktail fan? They offer a ton of sakes here, one sure enough to appeal to your liking. Also of note, the happy hour, which includes food priced from $3 to $6, and libations in the $3 to $7 range. A very good value, and I predict this will be a go to spot for happy hour at Fashion Island.
I was becoming a little loopy after my two cocktails, so I was pretty excited when the food started making its way out for us. Starting things off was this Tuna Tartare, which was topped with a dollop of guacamole and a Tamari soy truffle. Very fresh tuna here, and the truffle and guacamole added a flavor boost. An excellent offering off of their appetizer portion of the Sushi Roku menu.
Longtime readers of this blog might have noticed my aversion to kale. I'm not really a fan, but this Organic Kale Salad was not too bad. The inclusion of king oyster mushrooms, a crispy shiitake, and a very well done plum vinaigrette dressing almost made me forget my distaste for my leafy green nemesis. I also enjoyed the edible flower used to distract the diner from the kale in here. Very nice presentation with everything on this night.
Predictably, we had a bunch of sushi on this preview night, and some of the highlights were the Baked Lobster Roll and the Crab Sushi. Both were very delicate, but did not sacrifice flavor. I especially loved the baked lobster with its creamy miso sauce. The crab was a little understated, but the fresh crab shined here. All sushi was delicious, and I could not help but think that this sushi would definitely be in Katie's wheelhouse. Can't wait to bring her back here.
I was surprised when this Popcorn Shrimp Tempura made its way out to us. It kind of reminded me of an American Chinese dish, but after trying it, it was so much better. The tempura batter was nice and light with a little crunch to it, which allowed the shrimp to be the star. I definitely had my fair share of this. So delicious, and way better than what you can get at Panda Express.
Sushi Roku saved the best for last for us. They had a number of items served on skewers, the best one being the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, which was as good as it sounds. These shrimp were huge, and of course bacon makes everything taste better. The Ji-Dori Chicken Skewers were tender, with just a twinge of teriyaki to it. All of these skewer options made a lasting impression on me as I headed home.
As I was looking over the menu for Sushi Roku when I got home, I realized that this is much more than just a sushi spot. It's more of a well rounded Japanese restaurant that will satisfy both sushi lovers and non-sushi diners alike. There's plenty on this menu that will keep people coming back here, and this is exactly the type of restaurant that this area needed so badly. There's traditional sushi represented, as well as dishes with a modern twist. I am really looking forward to coming back here again real soon, and sharing my experience with Katie and my friends.
For more information about Sushi Roku, check out their website here: http://www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/sushiroku