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New Santa Rosa sushi spot offers service with a smile — and a robot

After transferring from Scottsdale to Sebastopol 16 years in the past, I briefly got down to discover Sonoma County’s maximum attention-grabbing eating places. Certainly one of my editors on the time steered I take a look at Tex Wasabi’s in Santa Rosa as a result of, in spite of its curious idea of serving fish fry and sushi in a cavernous nightclub atmosphere, it was once packing in consumers.

I went. I dined. I regretted it right away and immensely. There was once a Jackass roll of tapioca rice paper full of sushi rice, avocado, barbecued red meat, french fries and garlic chile mayo. A Hog-Tied King maki was once a monstrosity of salmon, bacon, cream cheese, sriracha, unagi sauce, inexperienced onions and crispy onions, all flash-fried and sopping wet in candy chile sauce. As a substitute of soy, it’s good to dunk your sushi in fish fry sauce.

So you’ll be able to believe it did not ruin my center when Tex Wasabi’s in spite of everything closed in 2019. And chances are you’ll perceive why, after Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) Rosa debuted within the former Tex house this previous June, I requested its co-owner, Meehyun Chong, what she and her circle of relatives did to reinvent where. I used to be pondering “exorcism,” however she with politeness informed me that every one they truly did was once “loads and numerous cleansing.”

It’s true the brand new eating place has a couple of oddball sushi recipes of its personal. Spanning seven pages, the menu features a maki roll full of red meat pot stickers and cucumber ($9), and you’ll be able to upload additional fillings like cream cheese ($1), macadamia nuts ($2) or jalapeño ($1). There’s a hand roll wrapped round grilled hen and cucumber ($6), and you’ll be able to get dressed it up with crab ($3) and lemon slices ($1).

But co-owner, head chef and Chong’s father Track Ku “Billy” Chong chooses top class native and imported fish from San Francisco markets, emphasizing qualified sustainable catches. And there are many vintage nigiri and sashimi to be loved on the gleaming glass-and-stone sushi bar, in cuts starting from hamachi ($7) to hotategai (Hokkaido scallop, $7).

At one lunch, I sat close to a gentleman who had ordered a combo that was once so beautiful I virtually requested to take a photograph. As he savored the six-piece nigiri and nine-piece sashimi set ($23), he proclaimed it “the most efficient sushi in Santa Rosa.” That’s undoubtedly stretching it for the enjoyable however typically usual fare, despite the fact that for the buck worth and beneficiant portion sizes, this seafood shines.

The Chong circle of relatives is understood for its well-priced, dependable Eastern meals. Additionally they personal O! Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, Otoro Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) in Healdsburg and the bargain-driven Fast Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park (serviceable nigiri for $3.50, maki for $5). Members of the family or pals run all of the eating places.

Right here, within the 5,100-square-foot, two-story Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) Rosa, dishes are a bit of extra upscale than on the Chongs’ different places. There are great touches like tsukemono (tart, hand made pickled greens, $8); actual crab featured during the menu; conventional pieces like comfortable, complete grilled teriyaki squid ($16); and recent fruit soju cocktails ($11 – $15).

Many dishes are artfully organized, like tuna tama, the place the ruby crimson fish curls round a knob of rice below a cap of tobiko and uncooked quail egg ($12). Salmon salad is every other horny plate, the thinly sliced fish pressed right into a terrine with chopped mango and avocado, crowned in tobiko and served with tempura asparagus ($15). With its sweet-salty notes, it finally ends up being considered one of my favourite alternatives.

Plus, a consult with this is entertaining. In a high-tech contact, servers take orders on capsules held on cross-body straps, and when it comes time to serving the meals, a self-driving robotic rolls in, smiling with cat whiskers on its face and bearing integrated trays encumbered with dishes.

Robotic servers are getting stylish in this day and age — and why no longer? They provide no-contact supply, lend a hand with the hospitality trade’s present exertions scarcity disaster and are flat-out amusing. The Chongs named Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) Rosa’s provider robotic Jerry, who in a happy feminine voice encourages me to “Please take your meals,” then says, “Revel in!”

Jerry comes from Endure Robotics of Redwood Town, which on its website online notes that the majority eating places hire the robots for $33 an afternoon, making their salaries about $4 an hour for an eight-hour day. An an identical human worker — if restaurateurs may just to find one — would price $15.20 according to hour in Santa Rosa.

Additionally, Jerry is environment friendly. Endure Robotics’ staff programmed her with a map of the eating place’s structure; kitchen workforce varieties in a desk quantity (and even more than one tables in a row), and the robotic could make stops at every sooner than returning to the kitchen. If a buyer walks in entrance of her or blocks her with a chair, she robotically halts and waits. For additonal aptitude, higher sushi orders are introduced in a bamboo boat, which, when delivered by means of a robotic, is fairly the display.

As Meehyun famous, “Jerry has introduced numerous smiles to consumers,” sufficient so the circle of relatives put in every other robotic, Bella, at their Fast Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) in Santa Rosa.

However again to the meals. I loved the bento bins for his or her number of flavors packed right into a unmarried meal, and Sushi (News Intelligencer: Food Section) Rosa places in combination a notable assortment ($15.50). You get started with a big bowl of standard miso soup, then issues ramp up with the 16 entree alternatives. Choose hen or salmon teriyaki, salt grilled salmon or saba (mackerel), hen or red meat katsu, grilled highly spiced marinated red meat, gyoza, tempura or a number of nigiri, rolls and sashimi. You can also make a selection Korean bulgogi, made with a recipe passed down from Meehyun’s grandmother.

My red meat katsu incorporated two hefty (if quite dry) cutlets set atop shredded cabbage. My tuna sashimi incorporated 5 thick-cut slabs. Rice is served in a baseball-size spherical. The salad is just about appetizer-size, with a vibrant French dressing, and the field is rounded out with sliced cucumber and orange segments. It’s a large number of bang for the greenback.

Vegetarians gained’t cross house hungry. Some two dozen sushi recipes beckon, with fillings so simple as tangy, crunchy yamagobo (pickled burdock root, $7) or as elaborate as a rainbow combo of oshinko (pickled radish), kanpyo (dried gourd), yamagobo, tamago (egg omelet), avocado and cucumber ($15). The “recent vege” roll is especially scrumptious, full of crisp tempura asparagus, cucumber and avocado below a flourish of wakame (kelp seaweed, $13).

I even quite loved an offbeat roll I assumed could be too candy, squishy and bizarre — the Fried Vege of nori and rice full of mango, avocado, candy potato and shiitakes, then deep-fried to offer it a lacy crust ($13). I nonetheless want the classics, however it was once high quality. And easiest of all, there was once no fish fry sauce in sight.

Carey Candy is a Sebastopol-based meals and eating place author. Learn her eating place evaluations each and every different week in Sonoma Lifestyles. Touch her at [email protected]