We've previously acknowledged Roku Sunset as a great choice for a group dinner in the WeHo area, and while it remains a perpetual hotspot for stylish locals and tourists alike, its true value is undoubtedly in its power-lunch potential. Location, decor, and cuisine have already made this space into a place to be seen for Hollywood movers-and-shakers as well as the 9-to-5 crowd, but despite its rebirth from the much-loved Sushi Roku, the restaurant is sometimes overlooked for its impressive sushi selection (perhaps because "trendy" or "scene-y" restaurants are often immediately written off in food circles). This could also be a factor of the vast menu; between the extensive cocktail list, dozens of hot and cold appetizers, noodles and rice, robata, and a teppanyaki grill, the little line on the menu dedicated to "Omakase: Chef’s custom six course dining experience" gets easily lost. And with so many other Omakase experiences in little hole-in-the-wall sushi joints (many of which will completely ruin your wallet), the uber-modern and expansive Roku is certainly not an obvious choice for this traditional method of Japanese dining. At a cool $80, the lunch will definitely set you back, but is comparable to other mid-level to upscale spots. But if you're entertaining or trying to impress a client, this might be the time to break out your company credit card for the ultimate #powerlunch.
A custom 6-course meal prepared by the Chef and focusing on the day's best ingredients, the Omakase removes that annoying "paradox of choice" problem and allows you to have a little of everything without even glancing at the rest of the menu (so you can focus on your power lunching). Plenty filling, varied, and ending with a sweet dessert, Roku's omakase is a lovely, well thought out meal from beginning to end.
Of course, no two Omakase preparations are the same, so when I came in, they started me off with a Seabream and Fuyu Persimmon sashimi appetizer, which was great. I loved the combination of non-obvious ingredients, as both seabream and persimmon are not nearly as ubiquitous in sashmi preparations as, say, yellowtail and jalapeno. The mustard frill and watermelon radish were nice accoutrements, but the fish was definitely the star. Smoked maldon salt added a nice bit of flavor to the mild sashimi, with yuzu foam and miso vinagrette kept the dish really light and acidic while lending some needed umami. A lovely, sophisticated, and light way to start the meal.
And after starting out with something nice and subtle, they moved on to the slutty portion of the meal. Though avocado, tuna tartare, uni, caviar, and gold flake pretty much seems like overkill in the crowd-pleasing department, it honestly worked. Yes, it was "crowd-pleasing" and "slutty," but also surprisingly subtle as the little addition of uni and caviar added a light richness without overwhelming the dish-- a nice departure from a typical tuna and avocado combination, actually. Obviously, I gobbled it up in under a minute.
Taking a break from the fishy portion of the meal, I was met with a nice little surprise when I received Soy Braised Short Rib on mashed potatoes. The short rib was tender and really flavorful, as the soy braise added a nice richness and salt. Surprisingly light, the mashed potatoes was a tasty foundation for some flavorful kimchee brussels sprouts and roasted veggies. A really solid, flavorful dish that broke up the meal and added a bit of needed variety.
Next was one of the most beautiful dishes of the day: a trio of sashimi. With Bluefin Tuna, Fluke, and Hokkaido Scallops, it was another light, satisfying dish that brought together some lovely complex flavors. Though I'm not a huge fan of the texture of raw scallops (love them chopped up and inside a hand roll, though), and the Yuzu Jelly on top only amplified that texture, the kiwi, yuzu flavor, and white pomegranate were a really nice, acidic combination. The fluke kumquat (in the middle) was easily my favorite bite-- tart from the kumquat, black lava salt gave it a fun kick. With almond sauce and goat cheese foam, the Bluefin Tuna was good and definitely an interesting/surprising combination. I definitely loved the Fig Garlic Chip on top, though.
To finish off the entrées, I received a plate of 6 pieces of nigiri sushi, all of which were fresh, beautifully presented, and packed with flavor. My favorites were the tuna with parmesan and avocado (parmesan on sushi, who knew?), the seabream with yuzu jelly, shiso, and lava salt, and the simple preparation of King Crab with a side of champagne butter sauce. Though I was already getting quite full, it was a perfect way to finish off the savory portion of the meal, and once more demonstrated Roku's sushi mastery and creativity.
The 6th course was a mini chocolate lava cake and profiterole for dessert, which I only mustered a few bites of as at this point, I was completely stuffed. They were both great, and it was nice to cleanse my palette with sugar after all of that raw fish.
I know what you're thinking. No, a 5-course omakase meal for $80 is NOT a feasible everyday work lunch. I completely understand that. But for Hollywood executives, laywers, bankers, real estate moguls, anyone with a generous expense account, or even those with little cash saved up for a #treatyoself moment, don't overlook Roku Sunset for your next upscale power lunch occasion because of it's spacious, trendy design. You will get plenty of delicious food while dining in a beautiful room, and that is sure to impress any afternoon companion.