The goods: The Pubbelly empire expands with a brick-walled ode to Japanese small plates.
Ambience: Owners Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin and Sergio Navarro have revamped the old Bartolome space with graffiti murals, high-top wood tables and a hipster-friendly soundtrack. The cavernous space includes an open kitchen where sushi chef Yuki Leto (SushiSamba Las Vegas) crafts untraditional maki.
The grub: Globally influenced Japanese – flavors crisscross the globe with Latin, Indian and Italian influences. Prices are a bit high given the small portions. Starters are $5-$18, rolls $12 and robata items $7-$21. Starters include tostones de pana (hamachi ceviche spiked with cilantro and ginger soy, accompanied by crispy breadfruit “crackers”; shishito peppers with Indian raita, pine nuts, roasted red peppers and cumin salt; and battered rock shrimp tempura-tossed with buffalo aioli and blue cheese.
Sashimi options include tuna with burratina (fresh mozzarella) and heirloom tomatoes and hamachi jalapeño with yuzu soy and roasted peppers. Maki rolls feature big-eye tuna with crispy rice topped with truffle oil; Kobe beef tartar with pear and poached egg; and fried clams with coleslaw and lemon. Robata grill items include pork belly with orange peel and squid with lemon aioli. Mocha ice cream dumplings and yuzu crème brulee are among the desserts.
Verdict: A hip, nontraditional raw-fish den from the young and ambitious owners of Pubbelly.