The Ultimate Maki

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Sushi Roku – Los Angeles, CA

Most hardcore sushi connoisseurs will turn their noses up at such rolls, deeming only the hand roll as worthy for consideration, but those people are schmucks, because they are missing out on rolls so good you’ll want to do a kata.

The first of the two is the Rock Shrimp Tempura Jalapeño roll. Many a copy cat has tried to emulate, but no one has ever done it as well as Roku. The crispy batter, still slightly warm. The heat of the pepper. And the coolness of the rice, seaweed and shrimp, to bring it back down. I can eat 20 of these without batting an eye, first, because they just so damn delicious, but second, because they somehow come off much lighter than they sound. Partly due to their size I suppose. They aren’t ginormous and unruly like so many other tempura rolls.

The other is more on the heavier side. The Baked Lobster Roll (pictured). It’s sooo rich in fact, you might need a nap afterwards. But it is also sooo worth it. Served warm with a decadent cream sauce, wrapped in an albino sesame casing as opposed to the usual black seaweed and accented with a spear of asparagus. It will change you.

 

Sushi Hana – New York, NY

The name of this roll alone is enough to ensure doubt, but I assure you that is only a survival mechanism being employed by the mangoes and eel, so that we don’t deplete the Earth’s supply. Yes, the Mango Tango Roll is that good. Part sushi, part dessert, part I think I’ll be having another order of that toot sweet. Such a simple combo that many other sushi joints try to nail, but none of them get the eel to mango ratio like Hana. That sweet eel sauce combining with the natural, refreshing sweetness of the mango. It’s yummy-san.

Sushi Roku

1401 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90401(310) 458-4771 -OR- 8445 W 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90048(323) 655-6767 • sushiroku.com

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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.

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