Modern, hip, and cool with lounge music piping beckons this anchor at Baldwin Park on Main St. One block away from the spectacular lakeside promenade is this contemporary sushi restaurant. There is wrap around outdoor sidewalk style and lavish indoor seating. The interior is stark and very stylish with a floor to ceiling wine display.
Several years ago when this place first opened, that entire wall was a giant blank canvas. I was hoping that they would build something spectacular and they did not disappoint. The wine list back then was also very stark, not today. I am very encouraged that this sushi restaurant has embraced the wonderful world of wines. From the varied and balanced selections it is clear that they did not just accept a giant wine distributor name brand friends. Cheers! We choose a glass of Saarstein Riesling, which had a nice bouquet with hints of mineral and a glass of 2009 Cuvee de Blanc, Huguenot Cellar, Santa Ynez Valley, CA. (Grenache Blanc 33%, Sauvignon Blanc 33%, Gewurztraminer 33%, Love 1%) A clean crisp herby dry white blend that was ever so lightly sweet on the palate.
The menu features the regular suspects of rolls on a “sushi list”, signature rolls, sashimi, nigiri, appetizers, soups, salads and main courses highlighting Korean and Japanese cuisines. Of course the endangered Chilean Seabass is on the menu. Not sure anyone pays attention to that anymore. I love this fish. But I have to take a stand. Wonder if it will ever come off the endangered list? Did I mention, I love Chilean Seabass? I am not a fan of the sushi list. There, I made my preference known. I believe a restaurant should have servers who are knowledgeable about the menu and be able to guide a guest in ordering. Not a guest marking on a piece of paper their order, why don’t I walk it to the sushi chefs also. Maybe, I can pick it up from the sushi bar also. Okay, I know I am getting carried away.
On this visit with young hungry bellies to full, who are a little squirmish about sashimi we engaged with these choices:
Tempura shrimp and vegetables – were crisp, crunchy, and fresh.
Jumbo lump crab cake / wilted spinach / roasted red pepper buerre blanc – ample fillers with enough crab meat, tender and flaky.
FIRE CRACKER SHRIMP
Phyllo wrapped shrimp / sweet chili sauce – presentation and idea sounds great. Shrimp itself cooked well, but the phyllo breaking apart and crumbling with each bite not so much.
Snow crab salad / tempura crunch wrapped with smoked salmon / eel sauce – Mayo to crab salad ratio well balanced, could not really feel the crunch, smoked salmon flavors were very light.
Coconut shrimp / mango / cream cheese topped with snow crab salad / eel sauce apricot glaze – well balanced and prevalent flavors. The mango and coconut stood out. Great!
Spicy crawfish / asparagus / wrapped with whitefish / Cajun mayo / set ablaze with a torch – no crawfish taste, just burnt mayo.
Spicy krab / crawfish / lobster / baked – nice ratio of seafood to mayo, no baked taste, red tobiko was a surprise.
SPICY TUNA KOBACHI
Fresh tuna prepared “poki” style / sesame oil / shichimi / togarashi served in 4oz, 7oz, or 9oz portions – ordered medium heat, it was still too spicy. Middle of tuna was still very cold, pieces were unevenly cut, which lead to uneven heat.
KOREAN STYLE BEEF SHORT RIBS
Sweet garlic soy / sautéed onions – nice little tug and it was off the bone. Flavors were all present. Nice dish.
TEMPURA ICE CREAM
Ice Cream dipped in tempura batter with Raspberry sauce – nothing special on the ice cream nor the tempura batter, however, raspberry sauce was very tasty. Little chocolate sprinkles was a decadent surprise.
This restaurant has come a long way over the years. I am tempted to say that it has matured. Long gone is the ditsy “hostess”, welcome to the personable, courteous team of greeters, servers, and food runners. Oh, a manger even came over and inquired if everything was okay. Swell! The sushi rice for the rolls were well balanced in acidity and texture. Although the menu was very safe maybe the interior space made up for the cool factor. Just a thought, a couple of adventurous items and this restaurant can really up its hip factor.