Exotic Appeal – Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar

| November 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sami Ladeki is an icon on the San Diego Restaurant scene. He has been in the business for over 25 years. His chain of pizza restaurants, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill, has been a leading innovator of flavors and styles for that old favorite and has been in the forefront of introducing tapas to local diners. Ladeki has also experimented with steakhouses and other culinary styles. But for the last 16 years, perhaps his personal favorite creation has been Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar in La Jolla, for its unique ambiance and exotic cuisine.

“Roppongi” is the Japanese term for “six trees” and refers to a district of that country. The name sets the theme for the unusual, multicultural dining experience to come. It is not simply a Japanese restaurant. The restaurant’s menu is a fusion of many elements and tastes.

The ambiance at Roppongi sets the tone for fine dining. The interior of the restaurant has very romantic lighting in both the dining room and bar area, which is why it is so popular with the singles crowd. A large aquarium with brightly colored fish swimming about creates a living wall to separate the two rooms. Comfortable booths line the perimeter and a small semi-private area runs off one side, which is perfect for small parties. The overall effect of the décor is very relaxing.

There is a comfortable covered patio on the side of the restaurant for semi-outdoor dining. A much larger patio and firepit is in front area of the restaurant for outdoor dining. What a comfortable way for couples and small groups to enjoy lovely evenings with great cuisine.

Roppongi’s sushi bar offers eye appealing and palate pleasing creations. The lengthy sushi menu lists sashimi — top grade tuna or abacore or ahi, among others. Rolls include the ubiquitous California Roll, with crab, cucumber and avocado. The rainbow roll packs a lot into small bites — crab, tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore, avocado, and cucumber. Specialty rolls create unique blends of taste with numerous ingredients. There is even a Steak and Fries Roll, with kobe beef, asparagus, avocado, crab, smoked lomi lomi, tomatoes, and smoked paprika aioli. Some diners make complete meals out of sushi. Others enjoy sushi as appetizers for the main entrees.

Other diners will do the same with tapas — dishes that are meant for sharing and conversation but several different tapas order can also make up a meal.

At Roppongi, the concept of tapas is take to a new level…asian tapas, a fusion of oriental and occidental flavors offering a new world of taste. Crispy potstickers are filled with shrimp and scallops, with a tobiko caviar sauce. Tobiko caviar can come in a variety of colors. Or try a South American inspiration, Hamachi taro tacos, with sweet mango and asian guacamole. Divers Scallops include potato pancake, Thai basil, sundried tomato and chive hollandaise.

Entrees are large and satisfying. Salmon lo mein presented tender, tasty fish on a bed of wonderfully prepared lo mein. The flavor was sweet and mouthwatering. Kobe beef sliders were thick mini-hamburgers on tasty mini-buns topped with white cheddar and barbeque mayonnaise. The meat was outstandingly flavorful. The dish came with shoestring potato onto which a thyme-paprika seasoning was sprinkled. The seasoning took a few bites to get used to but ended up really enhancing the taste. Beef short ribs, jidori chicken and Mongolian shrimp are among the other entree opportunities available.

Perhaps saving the best for last, is an impressive dessert menu offering such tempting creations as dark chocolate creamaux with Carlsbad berries and toasted hazlenuts. My personal favorite is the Tahitian bananas served on top of vanilla gelato, topped by almond brittle.

Roppongi has been in La Jolla for a long time in restaurant life and has been a favorite of sophisticated diners who enjoy exotic yet familiar and comfortable flavors..

Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar is located at 875 Prospect Avenue in La Jolla, at the corner with Fay Avenue. Prices are moderate to high. Call 858-551-5252 for reservations and information.

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