Sushi Roku’s Holiday Season

Restaurant honors International Sushi Day June 18

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | 3:44 pm

We’re betting you didn’t know that Thursday, June 18, is International Sushi Day.

That’s okay, it was a surprise to us as well, but we do know the perfect gift. That would be dinner at Pasadena’s Sushi Roku at One Colorado. We visited there last week, and previewed their special holiday menu. It was kinda like Christmas, but cheaper, and a lot more delicious, in our book.

Even the edamame appetizer at Roku is special, as ours was served with a buttery and salty truffle soy sauce.

Sushi Roku is offering a Special Ume for just $18 for what might quickly become our third favorite holiday behind Christmas and Opening day.

As Manager Justin Lleyvas admonished us, the special Ume, unlike most sushi is prepared to be delicious without any soy sauce, a difficult task for too many sushi lovers, myself included. Eating the sushi exactly as prepared allows the individual tastes of the dishes to emerge.

And yes, to the willing and open palate, all sushi does not taste alike. There are tiny brushstrokes of taste on a familiar canvas—some delicate, some bold. Sushi should taste fresh with barely a hint of fish. Much of the taste comes from the various textures of the fish. Drown it in soy sauce and it will all taste the same.

Sushi Chef Manzo served us a delicious Ume, which consisted of tuna with avocado, cream cheese, sesame oil, and sesame seed; along with a yellowtail with salsa fresca mizore, which added a sweet taste, topped with crumbled arare, a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice.

The  salmon is served with fresh mango, yuzu foam, which taste like clouds of sweet air, ikura (salmon caviar), and a citrus ponzu sauce. There is, of course,  shrimp, served with cucumber, amazu sauce,  lemon zest, and radish.

The halibut is prepared with red yuzu kosho, olive oil, sea salt, and micro shiso herb. The albacore  was vivid and bracing, served with garlic nikiri soy, aji amarillo, scallion, and fried onion. Soy sauce would have spoiled the fun.

Sushi Roku is well-known for its innovative sushi recipes and pairings. In fact, they recently instituted a Kids menu.

But we didn’t stop with the Ume. Knowing that Roku is known for its unique offerings, we asked Manzo to surprise us, and he delivered a beautiful tuna tartare, served like an opening flower with a quail egg in the center, and eaten like a dip with mysterious paper-thin chips. It was like dipping into a tiny plate of delicious. And this was after he opened his performance with a halibut fluke, served with cilantro, sea salt, pepper and mandarin oranges, and their famous baked crab hand rolls.

And yes, there is Dynamite. The dynamite at Sushi Roku is not the aluminum foil soy sauce/mayonnaise soup with scallops, common to sushi fans. It was a cut roll style, with the blue crab dynamite mixture served on top. How long has this been in the world?? It was magic on a plate.

We ended the evening with a rich banana bread pudding, again, unlike most Japanese dinner desserts. The sushi may not fill you. Dessert definitely will.

Whether you’re a sushi purist or rookie, Sushi Roku honors the spirit of the traditional Japanese dish with savory details of its own, and the results are subtly spectacular.

Where will you spend the holidays?

Sushi Roku is at One Colorado, 33 Miller Alley, Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 683-3000 or visit
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