1401 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90401 • (310) 458-4771 -OR- 8445 W 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90048 • (323) 655-6767 • sushiroku.com
Finding a great sushi restaurant in LA is probably about as easy as finding sand in the Sahara, but finding a sushi place that does more than just great sushi/sashimi, and has a cool décor gets much harder. Nobu? Please. The place is in a friggin’ strip mall for Christ’s sake! Matsuisha? With the cheesy murals on the walls? Sushi Park? (see previous dig on strip malls).
Roku is cool. It just is. And it has been for over a decade, which says a lot. But they also have great food, of the sushi and non-sushi variety. Check out their grilled miso tofu steak for those patrons who don’t do fish- it’s awesome! Also, for dessert the chocolate volcano is one of the best out there. And as for the sushi faithful, they consistently serve the best Unagi I’ve ever had. They make two of my favorite rolls on the planet: The rock shrimp tempura jalapeño roll and the baked lobster roll. Another great on the menu is the hanabi (spicy tuna atop a fried rice coin), a dish made famous by Katsu-Ya, but to be honest, Roku does it better. Sure the other stuff is good, but raw fish is basically only as good as what comes off the boats. I’ve learned in LA, that if there’s a good batch of yellowtail in town- everywhere has good yellowtail. So, if you’re looking for sushi with a side of cool, and with a little somethin’ somethin’ extra, Roku has you covered. If you’re looking for a pricey omakase from one of Jiro’s understudy’s, than you’re in the wrong place.
Clean modern décor. Friendly service. And best of all, a taste of Mexico, without the same old shit stuffed in a tortilla or taco shell. After all, you can only eat so many tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and quesadillas before you realize it’s all the same ingredients just reshuffled around in different configurations.
So, this was a nice change of pace, without being a total departure from its roots. What I mean by that is that while Nick San is definitely Japanese, there is a Mexican twist on many dishes. For example, the Tuna Sashimi served on a tostada with avocado. It was excellent. Or the yellowtail served in a basil herb sauce that was light and refreshing. Or the baked lobster roll with mango. The yellowtail with Serrano peppers and yuzu sauce. Everything was great. And not just as an escape. If this place were in NYC, I’d happily go. Often.