Sushi Roku Is Making a Big Splash in Fashion Island
Fashion Island has just kicked it up a notch with the unveiling of the brand new Sushi Roku here in The OC. This is their sixth location, a tradition which began on 3rd Street in Los Angeles in 1997. Executive Sushi Chef Hiroshi Shima oversees the entire menu and recipes at each location and is here for a month or so to assure a smooth opening. Chef Shin Toyoda will be handling the operations on an on-going basis, overseeing an amazing and talented team.
My take….The space will impress you, and the cuisine will entice you. This, my friends, is a “must-dine” find.
The Restaurant Environment
The space is quite impressive. I fondly reminisce about the French- inspired Brasserie Pascal which preceded this restaurant’s transformation. There are four distinct areas of sophisticated modern dining venues from which to choose. There is an outdoor patio, welcoming well-behaved doggies. There is a bar which is separate from the dining room, which I prefer. The dining room is spacious and inviting. The sushi bar seats 12-16 guests, depending on how busy they are. Much effort has been made to insulate the dining room with noise-reduction technology, and based on my recent visits it works quite nicely.
The décor is clean and modern with natural elements such as an 8-foot bamboo forest-inspired wall, a warm walnut counter at the sushi bar, a custom organic lit sculpture, a 20-foot Japanese hand painted glass screen, bonsai –inspired greenery and locally made tiles and lighting.
The Cuisine- A Global Inspiration
Chef Shima is a master of flavors, sauces and spices. He has taken this to a whole new and non-traditional level by using global ingredients—from Japanese sauces, jalapeños from Latin America, black truffles from France, and Italian cheeses. He and his team are presenting new one-of-a-kind dishes that are unique to the offerings here in Orange County. Sushi Roku sources the finest, fresh fish from around the world, and locally as well. Selections are made daily for the Sashimi and Nigiri Sushi dishes. The menu offers a plethora of signature hand and cut rolls, hot and cold plates, from the Garden, Sea and Farm. The menu also includes: soups, noodles and rice, a Katana Robata grilled section, and larger entrée, as well. Certified sake sommeliers and mixologists have designed an enticing beverage menu to complement the cuisine. Bravo!
Our Tasting-Transporting Us Around The Globe
As touched on previously, the delicate balance of fresh fish, extraordinary flavors and spices are all balanced to perfection. It is a challenge to not overpower the subtle flavors of the fish itself. To have that finesse is a masterful achievement. One dish after another impressed me exponentially—leaving me wanting more and excited to try the next offering. I hope you will enjoy this “tasting parade” and get a better sense of what is in store when you visit Sushi Roku.
The first platter presented was the Fluke Kumquat Sashimi. This was colorful and accented with kumquats and thin slices of fish. This was sprinkled with a light, yuzu vinaigrette. Next up was a platter of Yellowtail Diced Chiles. The platter was covered with slices of premium yellowtail sashimi with a light Ponzu sauce, green onions and red chilies dancing on the plate. My favorite was the Hanabi. This arrived four to a tray, with a bite size fried crispy rice cake, which is topped with spicy tuna tartare. This is great for sharing and is a show stopper. I am just saying!
The Blue Crab Tartare was another exceptional dish, with tasty sweet crab topped with uni and caviar. Arriving on a clear plate that was teetering above a ice filled bowl and an orchid, this was a lovely presentation and delicious to enjoy. Drama was everywhere I turned.
Another nibbling item (and also great for sharing) was the Crispy Seaweed Crackers with wasabi cream dipping sauce. My table-mates were enjoyed the crunchy texture and a creamy sauce. The Baked Crab Cut Roll wrapped in soy paper was delicate and delicious. It t is impossible for me to enjoy sushi without a Spicy Tuna Roll. This was a mixture done to perfection—just hot enough, and a true test of any sushi bar I frequent. The Shishito Japanese Peppers, were sautéed with a hint of garlic. They were just spicy enough to enjoy, without being overpowering. The Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Onions had the perfect balance of delicate fish and a light crunch. The Katana Cut Roll is filled with spicy tuna tartare & shrimp tempura and is topped with slices of tuna & yellowtail (similar to a Rainbow Roll) and dazzled with a spicy sauce.
Robata is a popular style of grilled food in Japan over Bincho charcoal. At Sushi Roku, they are cooked the traditional way, for an authentic grilled taste. The Robata Skewers we enjoyed included: a Filet, Foie Gras & Asparagus Skewer, an American Wagyu Beef Ribeye Skewer, and a Ji-Dori Chicken Teriyaki Skewer. All three were delicious, steaming hot, with a hint of that “just grilled” taste.
The entrees are equally impressive, and two of our favorites included: Braised Short Ribs with five spices, and garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. This was all complemented with a rich, beef sauce. Another excellent choice is the Chilean Sea Bass, atop Spinach, with a delicate Truffle Miso Glaze.
For dessert, Sushi Roku has many choices. Here are the three which we enjoyed. First up was the S’ Mores. This interactive presentation optimized “playing with fire”. The dish arrived with a bed of graham cracker crumbs, a stack of marshmallows, green tea and chocolate truffles, skewers and a small flamed pot to “cook” the s’mores right there at the table. Not only was this delicious, but a lot of fun for everyone at the table. (Caution: The fire is very hot, so do not touch the pot, and be careful if any children are at the table.) Another delicious dessert was the Banana Flambé. In essence, this is a Bananas Foster with sautéed bananas, brandy, ice cream and drizzled caramel sauce. This was all gently contained in an edible cup made out of fried wonton skins and adorned with mixed berries. A light and refreshing alternative to those items, was the Mango Panna Cotta dessert. This floated atop a raspberry and mango coulis and fresh berries.
Sushi Roku is a treasure that I look forward to returning to again and again. I encourage those who enjoy sushi to give this a try. Enjoy the cuisine and the ambiance as well. It is a unique experience for those who enjoy sushi done in new and different ways. Dine Well…
Sushi Roku Restaurant- Fashion Island
327 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Open 11:00am to 10:00pm daily, and until midnight on Friday & Saturday.
Happy Hour is from 3:00pm to 6:00pm Monday thru Friday. Sushi Roku’s happy hour is impressive. The menu features $3-$6 bites, including edamame with truffle butter, seared Albacore sashimi with crispy onions, and pork kakuni sliders, all of which can be paired with a fine selection of $3 beers and $4-$7 cocktails and wines.