3.25.2011

Eat This Now: Sushi Roku's Matsu Roku Sushi Plate

When it comes to sushi, everyone has their go-to favorite. Typically, these "go-to's" fall into one of two categories: 1) A local hole-in-the-wall sushi joint, or, 2) A trendy sushi restaurant where you pay for both the food, decor and overall experience. While both certainly serve their purpose -- and I often find myself on the fence depending on my specific sushi craving -- I've got to rave about the Matsu 8-piece sushi platter I recently had at Sushi Roku.

Go Get This: Matsu Roku Signature Sushi Eight-Piece Plate
Photo Credit: Claire Thomas

First, a little bit of my personal sushi history. I'm really proud of myself when it comes to, well, let's call it "personal sushi development." After graduating from California Roll University (go Krabs!), I found myself in the "spicy tuna" rut for several years. I like to describe it as one step up from a California roll but several steps down from branching out into "real sushi," aka a selection of sashimi and sushi -- think eel, snapper, and sea urchin -- without snazzy sauces, avocado or spicy mayo to disguise the flavor of the fish. The spicy tuna rut is like the sushi equivalent of a weight-loss plateau: easy to get into, but hard to get out of. But once I finally got up the nerve to try some "real sushi," I never really looked back. I made my way through an onslaught of salmon, toro, tai (Japanese Snapper), yellowtail, albacore, and even conquered the dreaded sea urchin. It's definitely not something I crave, but it's not something I'm afraid of anymore, either.

Fast forward to a recent dinner at WeHo's Sushi Roku. Over the past several months, the restaurant has been revamping its menu, sprucing up the classics (e.g. yellowtail on crispy rice) and introducing imaginative new dishes including the salmon carpaccio with saved black truffle as well as the new Matsu Roku Signature Style Sushi plate (eight pieces, $36). While I've always been a fan of some of Roku's classic dishes, both of these new plates rocked my Roku world.

My favorite part of the Matsu Roku plate: Scottish Salmon Sushi
    Photo Credit: Claire Thomas

    Let's start with the eight-piece Matsu Roku plate. One look at this stunning array of sushi -- the plate includes Tai, Scottish Salmon, Japanese Yellowtail, Albacore, Bluefin tuna, Alaskan King Crab, Bluefin Tuna belly, and sea urchin -- and you almost feel bad disturbing it. Operative word being "almost." It's clear that painstaking detail was involved in the creation of this eight-piece masterpiece, but that type of attention to detail and dedication to innovative flavor combinations makes me truly appreciate each bite even more. Who would have ever thought of Alaskan King Crab leg sushi served with a tiny spoonful of champagne butter sauce? That dish is something I expect to find at Michael Cimarusti's Michelin-starred Providence and is brilliant on sushi. Same goes for the Scandanavian-inspired Scottish salmon served with citrus soy, sliced cucumber, cilantro and ossetra caviar. Brilliant combination; probably my favorite on the plate. That's not an easy statement to make, either. I mean, just look at how beautiful the plate is. At $36, it's not cheap, but you absolutely feel as though you've gotten your money's worth. Here's exactly what you get:

    Matsu Roku Signature Style Sushi Plate
    • Japanese Sea Bream (Tai) with yuzu jelly, black lava salt and shiso leaf
    • Scottish Salmon (Sake) with citrus soy, sliced cucumber, cilantro and ossetra caviar
    • Japanese Yellowtail (Hamachi) with lime soy and pickled vegetables
    • Seared Albacore (Shiro Maguro) with nikiri soy, minced garlic and chopped onions
    • Bluefin Tuna (Hon Maguro) with soy truffle oil, parmesan cheese , avocado and arugula
    • Alaskan King Crab Leg (Taraba Gani) with champagne butter sauce
    • Seared Blue Fin Tuna Belly (Toro Aburi) with wasabi truffle soy, sliced black truffle
    • Santa Barbara Sea Urchin (Uni) with wasabi soy, seaweed caviar and chopped Tokyo scallions
    If you're still hungry, another can't-miss is the Scottish salmon carpaccio served with a tableside shaving of Italian black truffles. This dish is heavy on the truffle (which in my opinion is divine), but if you're not a huge truffle lover then you might want to consider something else. Or just consider yourself warned, either way. Finally, a fun twist on a Roku classic -- the fan-favorite spicy tuna on crispy rice -- is the addition of yellowtail on crispy rice. It's just another example of how Roku is adapting its menu to an increasingly discerning and sophisticated sushi clientele. But it's also a great dish for sushi newbies going through the stages of sushi development. If you stick with Sushi Roku, you'll get there. Just make sure to order the Matsu Roku plate can for your graduation meal. :)

    A special thanks to Andrea and Max for being my wonderful dinner dates!

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