Small surprises abound inside Takenoya, where ice milk tea might contain sweet bites of mango jelly and one of the sushi rolls might arrive wrapped in soybean paper or cucumber rather than traditional seaweed. Those interested in eschewing surprises can build their own bento box, which compartmentalizes their chosen meals of chicken teriyaki, nigiri, or other specialties into neat squares alongside soup, salad, and rice. Savory noodles swirl amid shrimp tempura in the nabeyaki udon, one of several noodle dishes. The menu also includes traditional plates such as pork katsu, japanese curries, and korean short ribs.
The elaborate sushi listings showcase more than 25 signature rolls. The spicy tempura-lobster roll nestles its namesake ingredient against cucumber, avocado, sprouts, and smelt egg, whereas the summer fresh roll cocoons tuna, salmon, and yellowtail inside a cucumber shell. Four types of box sushi are prepared with a pressing box, which molds each bite into a tiny cube.
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.
In Japan, the cuisine is as colorful as it is flavorful. At Asian Grill, the chefs pay homage to Japan with their own eye-catching renditions of sushi, teriyaki, ramen noodles, and other Japanese classics. They wrap a paper-thin layer of bright-green avocado around the mini caterpillar roll, and radish sprouts add height and a pop of color to the Salmon Dreams roll. Beyond sushi, their menu also spotlights hot dishes, including pan-fried noodles and barbecue short ribs.
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.
In a chic, minimalist atmosphere, ROE's executive chef whips up creative flavors for experimenting mouth-hutches. The panko-encrusted calamari starters are kissed with fire sauce ($10), while the thinly sliced pan-roasted pork mojito entree luxuriates on a chaise longue of creamy corn polenta, paired with mojito aioli, pickled red onions, and chipotle vinaigrette ($18). ROE's sushi menu lists a ravishing roster of rolls, several of which grace the chef's platters of assorted sushi ($20) and sashimi ($22). Specialty rolls induce mouth purring, and include the fruit roll-up, a melding of Fuji apple, cream cheese, and crab roll, with a dapper topper of smoked salmon, tuna, avocado, pine nuts, and white balsamic sauce ($13). A variety of sakes and infused drinks complement the extensive wine list and slay fire-breathing palates.
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