Culinaring Through Diego (Dinner Day 2)
Tonight was dinner at Roppongi, a Japanese-named restaurant which fuses Japanese, Mexican, Italian and Chinese cuisines and serves them Spanish tapas style. So how did these worlds mesh together on one plate? Fairly well although at times the fusion wasn’t very evident or creative. Because of the sheer number of dishes we ordered, I’m going to review the dishes in a list form.
Going into the dinner my friend anticipated the “Hot Rock,” a giant 500 degree F rock on which you cook thinly sliced strips of NY Steak (marinated in a chili ponzu sauce) in about 8 seconds. It’s actually harder than it sounds because if not cooked and seared properly, the meat comes off tasting boiled. The whole thing is more for show than for eating in my opinion.
Kalbi Braised Lamb Ribs. Certainly flavorful but too salty and the meat slightly overcooked. But for what you pay, you get a giant platter of these things. But where’s the fusion?
Tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, chili aioli, tobiko. Tasty & robust.
Hawaiian Style Kailua Pork Spring Rolls. I liked how these spring rolls were jam packed with pork and weren’t greasy. The restaurant really likes this “Asian Guacamole” which came up twice during the meal, but it’s an unnecessary garnish that isn’t even fusion despite the effort.
Chinese Potstickers filled w. Shrimp, Scallops & Tobiko Caviar Sauce. Oh so pretty and oh so loved by Aunt Mimi. Look at that caviar!
Mongolian Shredded Duck Quesadilla w. Spicy Asian Guacamole. This was the dish of the night and really the essence of what Asian-Fusion is all about. Drizzled over the quesadilla stuffed with super-moist duck was a plum sauce probably reduced with port. Throw in some gooey cheese and that’s Mexican-Asian fusion as it should be: different and tasty in all the right ways.
Tahitian Bananas w. Vanilla Gelato, Crispy Almond Brittle. This dessert had some serious presentation but had the flavor of a well-known bananas foster. Sweet, big and a caloric volcano of cavities.
Mango Jasmine Sorbet. From what I remember, the sorbet was more mango than it was jasmine. A nice palette cleanser.
Sticky English Toffee Pudding. Ooey, gooey, not too sweet. Excellent. Caramel gelato on the side was also excellent.
While the pictures may not show it, the tapas were fairly large and at $16 a plate, they should be. I do, though, take serious issue with the location of the bathrooms. For a restaurant that seats at least 100 people, couldn’t they have found room for a restroom inside the restaurant? To find the restrooms you have to walk outside into an atrium-like area between the restaurant and another building. From there, travel deeper into the recesses of this valley until you reach the end where a bathroom awaits you. I’m probably exaggerating the sketchiness of the location but that’s because when I went, a guy not from the restaurant was walking behind me. And considering San Diego’s homeless problem, a semi-public restroom is a poor idea.
Dinner totaled $128 (w/o tip) and if the opportunity presented itself again, I think I would return to Roppongi. While the fusion here doesn’t rock any worlds, it’s tasty and it’s fun.