Suba Sushi and Tapas Lounge, 3550 Long Beach Blvd., 595-1959.
• Hours: Suba is open from noon to 10 Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday.
• Location: Located in Bixby Knolls. There is on-site parking and extra parking around the back of the plaza.
• Staff/Service: Staff was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable; service was quick.
• Food/Drinks: The menu can seem to be incongruous when first viewed, but once the combos are tasted any lingering doubts are quickly put to rest.
Tapas include Relleno de Pappas, Empanada de Res, Empanada de Queso Fresco, Datilas con Cabralas (dates stuffed with Carbralas cheese and wrapped with applewood bacon), Tostones Rellenos (plantains stuffed with sautéed shrimp), Patatas Bravas and Boquerones (white anchovies with truffle oil).
Suba signature rolls include Light My Fire, Crouching Tiger, Garden Treat, Rosemary, Chosen One, The Closer, Baby Shiraz and the Bixby.
Along with the signature rolls, there is a wide array of sushi and sashimi.
Signature ceviche dishes include Vieira (sea scallops, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, and habanera), Ceviche de Camaron (blood orange, coconut milk, Serrano chile, cilantro) and Ceviche de Suba (shrimp, Ahi tuna, scallop, red onion, Serrano chile and mango).
Other dishes include paella, Toro burger and pasta con queso. There’s also an interesting wine list and a good selection of saké.
• Atmosphere: The atmosphere is comfortably hip. The walls are decorated with Japanese tattoo art and the dining room is intimate and warm.
• The Taste: Jennifer and I stopped for dinner on a Friday night. Greeted at the door, we were promptly seated and Leah brought us menus and explained a bit about the choices. We scanned the menu and discussed some of the more interesting options.
We ordered Empanada de Res, a meat-stuffed pastry served with salsa fresca and spicy aioli. We received two large turnovers stuffed with spicy ground beef. On their own they were very tasty. Topped with the spicy aioli or the salsa fresca, they were excellent.
We also sampled the Patatas Bravas, spicy potatoes. We were brought a large bowl of potato cubes dusted with hot paprika and a drizzle of spicy aioli. They were very spicy, wonderfully flavored with a hint of soy and ginger in the distance background.
We also ordered Light My Fire. It was brought to the table aflame. Beautiful presentation. The roll is perhaps the largest roll I’ve ever encountered. Spicy tuna, Jalapeno tempura and cream cheese were wrapped in rice as an outside cover and topped with mango honey. I thought it was as much like a dessert as a sushi roll. Spicy, savory, a little sweet and creamy, it works. It’s the kind of entrée that confounds the intellect but dances on the palate.
We also tried the Chosen One with spicy tuna, tempura chorizo, mango and red chile aioli. The roll is deep-fried and has a crunchy coat. Once again, the blending of different cuisines is astounding. The chorizo is used with great effect, but not overly present so as to mask the flavor of the spicy tuna. Texture, flavor and picture-perfect presentation make it another great example of fusion perfection.
Two chefs have merged their talents but maintained their identities and produced dishes that border on the magical. I have to confess that I didn’t expect the merger to work, but I came away a believer. I can’t wait to go back and sample the Rosemary (flat iron steak roll) and the Baby Shiraz with Atlantic salmon and the Datilas con Cabralas and one of the ceviches.
It’s only February, but we may have the best newcomer of the year already. Give Suba a try and prepare to be surprised; it really is that good.
• Price: Lunch or dinner for two is $25 to $50+ depending on your appetite.