RA Sushi is well known for its happy hour. In fact, the happy hour draws in such huge crowds more often than not, I’ve had to leave feeling rather frustrated because it was virtually impossible to get a chair to sit on.
If you don’t want that clubby feel, go at lunch time. The mood is relaxed and whether you dine in the main room or in the bar area, it never feels rushed or stressed in any shape or form.
RA has an impressive array of cocktails and we ordered two of the new concoctions to try. Red Lotus martini ($9) is a pretty pink drink borrowing its color from pink grapefruit juice and Absolut Ruby Red vodka. I found this too strong for me.
Emperor’s Cucumberita ($8) on the other hand was so rejuvenating I didn’t even feel like I was drinking alcohol. This version of a margarita uses Patron silver and Citronge shaken with lime juice, Yuzu sour and cucumber slices making it taste like a spa refresher but a cocktail nonetheless.
A new menu implemented a few months ago was what brought us here. Otoko Salad with chicken ($9.50) or beef ($11.50) offers mixed greens, grilled red and green peppers, onions and asparagus in a rice wine vinaigrette.
Dressing is light, refreshing and fried ramen noodles added a good crunchy texture. The beef was a bit overcooked, the chicken, definitely a better choice. Both grilled meats, supposedly tossed in a spicy yuzu dressing, had neither spice nor the aromatic freshness of the yuzu fruit. Even so, the salad appealed to all of us ad we would order them again.
Vegetable Tempura Roll ($7.25) comprised of battered asparagus, sweet potato and Japanese eggplant rolled and topped with tenkasu (crunchy tempura bits).
Sweet eel sauce is drizzled on top giving it a slightly sweet finish. I liked the different textural components although the roll definitely needed a touch of soy sauce to taste. The sweet sauce alone wasn’t enough flavor-wise.
On paper, Pacific Roll ($9.25) should have been a hit with me seeing it’s a roll with a mix of spicy albacore, cilantro, jalapeno and cucumber.
However, I didn’t taste any cilantro, or jalapeno, but I was surprised that the accompanying mango salsa added a pleasantly sweet/tart element. I didn’t, however, enjoy the mayo in the avocado as it took away from the already creamy freshness of the fruit.
“RA”ckin’ Roll ($12.50), another new item, mixes kani kama crab and cream cheese as a filling for the sushi. It is lightly battered, topped with guacamole and “RA”ckin’ shrimp.
A creamy ginger teriyaki dipping sauce is drizzled over the top with bits of beet tempura and shichimi, a Japanese seven-flavored chili powder, sometimes known as togarashi. I did not like the cream cheese at all but the “RA”ckin’ shrimp was good.
Tropical Roll ($8.25) doesn’t look like much. A square of rice with masago (green roe) on the outside is rolled with cucumber, mango and avocado topped with spicy shrimp. A mango salsa accompanies not on the sushi but on the plate. I like that because I can control how much or how little sauce I’d like on my roll.
From the entrees we tried Lobster with garlic sugar snap peas ($18). Bits of lobster is sautéed with garlic, sugar snap peas, shiitake mushrooms in an excruciatingly salty Asian seasoning. We sent back the unpalatable plate and were served another. It was slightly better, but still too salty for me.
My favorite items came from the newly installed RA Tapas Menu (all items are $5 during happy hour). Shishito peppers ($6.25) are absolutely delightful.
These mild peppers are tossed in a salty sweet sauce sprinkled with shichimi. They were so flavorful and delicious we couldn’t stop eating them. The sweetness paired with the slight spicy shichimi worked wonderfully together. Loved it!
We also enjoyed Garlic citrus yellowtail ($7.25), slices of hamachi sashimi with a salty, tart dressing. Make sure you take a little of the spicy microgreen mix when you pop a slice of fish into your mouth. It adds a nice element to every bite.
Salmon Carpaccio ($7.25) was another favorite. Salmon sashimi is seasoned with a slightly sweet, tart dressing dotted with pickled mustard greens. The flavor reminds me of Taiwanese-style pickles served with pork chop rice, bringing me a flash of nostalgia — I couldn’t stop eating the bits of pickled veggies.
Our meal ended with Sweet Mochi Trio ($7.50) a plate of mochi ice cream — mango, strawberry and vanilla — served with kiwifruit, strawberries and a dollop of whip cream. I liked the mango best.
RA makes no excuses for itself. They do not sell themselves as a Japanese restaurant, but rather, an unabashed fusion establishment. Fans of fusion fare will love RA’s selections, and those who aren’t, well, there is a nigiri menu to choose from. Either way, RA is hip, trendy and a great place to grab a drink with friends.
2401 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782