Redefining the Art of Sushi

Monday, November 30, 2015 | 9:43 pm

What keeps you coming back to a restaurant? Is it their classic menu items or their ever-changing specials? For the perfect balance between traditional and contemporary, look no further than the artful dishes at Sushi Roku. This hip-traditional sushi restaurant elevates eating to an art form and gives the traditional craft of sushi a new, California-inspired life.


Between the cheerful chefs who greet each guest with a cheerful “welcome” and “thank you” in Japanese, of course, the ambitious menu and the inventive bar drinks, there is little not to love. Even if you think you don’t like fish, Sushi Roku, and Head Sushi Chef Manzo Kituara, will make a sushi fanatic out of you. Each picturesque dish is an exploration in flavor and texture.


After a decade and a half, Sushi Roku knows how to do sushi. Start the evening with one of their signature cocktails the Fusion – this fruity blend of Sveda Vodka, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple and cranberry – is a well-balanced cocktail of flavors. The alcohol does not overpower the juices but adds a bitter note to the cocktail.


As Chef, Manzo Kituara said, “in Japanese food you eat with your eyes first and then you taste,” so every dish is meticulously and artfully presented. The tender halibut, a menu favorite, comes with delicate toppings of cilantro, Mandarin kuat and black lava sea salt. Roll and eat these slices of fish without soy sauce and enjoy the small flowers added as garnish on the plate.


“Many people drown [sushi] in soy sauce but that really masks the flavors of the fish. It is supposed to be clean, elegant and sharp,” said Justin Leyvas, Sushi Roku’s General Manager. Savor handmade sushi rolls without added sauce to truly taste the fresh and delicate flavors.


Try the Tuna Hanabi, a soft mound of tuna juxtaposed on top of a small rectangle of crispy rice and sprinkled with green onions. Or order their exclusive Spicy Yellowtail roll with red and green jalapenos and thin slivers of ginger.

Continue the meal with a seafood shooter or an order of Popcorn Rock Shrimp. This cooked dish comes with tender asparagus, flavorful mushrooms and deliciously crispy popcorn shrimp. This is probably the most sophisticated popcorn shrimp you will ever encounter.


End the meal with dessert – because no meal is complete without a sweet finish. “We do our desserts based upon comfort, not culture,” said Leyvas. This means they’re not limited to traditional desserts like mochi and tempura persimmons, although both are delicious.


Stick with a classic chocolate lava cake. This flourless, crisp cake bursts with smooth, luscious chocolate filling and comes with a dusting of powdered sugar. Or choose the seasonal Pumpkin Cheesecake. This rich dessert is probably the heaviest thing on the menu and comes with whipped cream and a sprinkling of spiced sunflower seeds.

Clearly, flavor knows no boundaries between time or cultures. Experience this elegantly updated take on sushi.

Sushi Roku is located at 33 Miller Alley, Pasadena. Call (626) 683-3000 or visit for more details.


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