Fresh frozen yogurt swirls into cups as guests look on with hungry stares. The fruit experts at Fruitland Fresh also satiate sweet cravings with smoothies with or without tapioca pearls in them, in a variety of flavors such as green apple or taro.
Jason Park’s connection to culinary ingenuity began before he was even born. His grandmother, a native Korean, began experimenting with blending Japanese and Korean cooking styles after she studied in Japan. She passed on her techniques and recipes to her daughter, who did the same to a young Jason.
From a young age, Jason showed his affinity for gourmet food by dutifully watching international cooking shows and sounding a trumpet whenever he bit into a perfectly salted popcorn. During college at UCLA, he dabbled in biology and psychology before returning to his true passion for cooking. After spending the next few years honing his skills in the kitchens of restaurants in Los Angeles and Osaka, he opened the doors of his own establishment as the executive chef.
At Maru, Jason draws on his grandmother’s principles of culinary fusion as he blends the flavors and textures of French and Japanese fare. He assembles dishes that range from Mediterranean risotto to sushi rolls using an ever-changing assemblage of seasonal ingredients, which he hand-selects each week at the Santa Monica farmers' market. He also has fresh fish flown in overnight from Japan’s seafood markets.
To complement Maru's continent-spanning dishes, sommeliers assemble balanced lists of local California wines, imported French blends, and Japanese sakes.
At Ichiban Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, each specialty roll reels in hungry visitors with a core of flavorful ingredients such as roasted eel, mussels, and spicy sesame sauce. Of the many rolls on the menu, the Box Sushi roll with seared tuna and spicy crab meat might be the most unique one, since it uses a Japanese wooden box instead of seaweed paper to achieve its classic tubular shape. In addition to rolling sushi, chefs also top donburi Japanese rice bowls with teriyaki chicken and curried beef. Even the appetizers are steeped in distinctly Asian flavors, from fried pork gyoza dumplings to veggies encased in a crispy tempura shell.
With more than 30 years in business under its belt, it's no wonder that Seaward Sushi Bar is a stalwart choice for sushi in the Ventura community. Its menu of sushi rolls?bestowed with whimsical names such as Superman and Hot Lips?is written on the wall alongside detailed descriptions so guests know exactly how each one is built.
And while some rolls are wrapped with traditional sheets of seaweed, others are held together with pink soy paper or slices of halibut sashimi. But that's not the only unexpected twist the chefs put on their sushi. They also incorporate unusual ingredients such as tempura sprinkles and garlic sauce, and they frequently pair baked seafood with raw fish to create rolls with contrasting temperatures. Bottles of traditional and flavored sake are available to pair with any of the rolls served inside this casual eatery, which is bedecked with rustic wood panels and an oversize seascape mural.
When many people think of Japanese cuisine, visions of multihued sushi rolls often spring to mind. But at Gotetsu, the menu is strikingly absent of the rice and raw-fish morsels. The staff is helmed by owner and native of Japan Yukari Watanabe, who has chosen to highlight some of the most often-overlooked dishes in Japanese cuisine. Among them is yakitori, also called kushiyaki, a dish of grilled chicken and meats on thin wooden skewers.
Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, so it's fair to expect a restaurant called Fuji Sushi to stack the rolls high. This place doesn't disappoint with its sushi platters, which come loaded with tuna, salmon, and specialty rolls. But sushi accounts for just a fraction of the menu here. The rest includes yakitori skewers, as well as sashimi. After dinner, hang around for a cup of italian coffee or green-tea ice cream freshly scooped out of a frozen kettle.