Sushi Roku, Santa Monica
- Leslie Brenner
I guess this native Angelena-transplanted-to-New York has been jonesing for sushi more than I thought, because it was just about all I could think about once I arrived in L.A. for a week-long Thanksgiving visit. A great surprise, driving around Santa Monica at 10pm last Monday, was Sushi Roku. My husband and I snagged a seat at the bar--the place was hopping. Though since we had eaten lunch at Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, my better half was the less-hungry half. Couldn't eat at all, in fact. (Mexican food often has that effect on him, but we won't go into that.) So all he had was miso soup. I, on the other hand, ate plenty.
We sat at the left side of the bar, and the management was wonderfully cool about Thierry not ordering anything. The sushi chef took wonderful care of me (after being in New York so long, I had forgotten what that was like!) I started with albacore sushi with garlic ponzu. The fish had great texture, delicate flavor, and was set off gorgeously by the ponzu, perfectly balanced. A few orders later, I asked for bonita, but with a very slight shake of his head he steered me away, asking me if I like uni. Now uni and I go way back, but in the 25+ years I've been eating sushi, I've enjoyed it maybe twice. I told him I only like it if it's of amazing quality. He nodded gravely, and delivered the best uni I've ever had in my entire life. Rich, velvety, buttery, utterly clean but deeply flavorful. What an experience! And the meal continued at that level, finished off by a special striped sea bass sashimi with yuzu vinaigrette. The wonderful sushi chef offered to make me a half-order, then proceeded to add extra flourishes such as a little caviar and gold leaf. What treatment! Especially considering we were taking up two seats and only one of us was eating.
Even the tea was delicious--a very good grade of gyokuro, I think, and it was kind of frothed up.
I'm definitely coming back next time I visit L.A. I had never heard about this place, since I've been away for some time.
Anyone else been there or to their West Hollywood location? I'd love to hear...
I, of course, absolutely loathe Sushi Roku in West Hollywood, although more for the anachronistic velvet-rope fascism than for the food, which is merely mediocre.
Speaking from a New Yorker who has re-located to LA, I can honestly say that the sushi I have eaten in LA is good, sometimes great but there is some of the best sushi restaurants in the country in NYC. Granted, I haven't eaten everywhere but I have gotten around :-).
In NYC try Tomoe Sushi in Soho, Yama either in Gramercy Park or the Village, Blue Ribbon Sushi in Soho, Nobu in Tribeca and for very good, though not sceney sushi, Tatany on either 26th and third or 52 off second is wonderful. I can give you more suggestions, but I need to log off.
As for Sushi Roku in LA, been to both more than once and had a great time, both atmosphere and food everytime. Will report more after I have gotten around...