I love Long Beach, and all the dynamite restaurants that the city has to offer. If you read my review of Panxa, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Chef Art Gonzalez’s. His unique New Mexican menu intrigued me as I’ve never tried that cuisine before. Last month, I bumped into Chef Art at a culinary competition where he was showcasing bites from his new restaurant, ROE, which incidentally, took home the top prize.
After that winning bite from ROE, I am eager to take a drive to Long Beach an check the restaurant out. We arrived late afternoon, mainly to beat traffic, but were happy to find Happy Hour in full swing.
The restaurant is beautiful, yet casual, with that relaxed feel I’ve always associated Long Beach with. We start with a couple of cocktails: Passionista ($12) and Lavender Detox ($12). The drinks are not only gorgeous, but they are killer tasty as well. The Lavender Detox is vodka-based with lavender limeade, lavender bitters and crème de violet to give it that deep purple hue. Passionista, a mezcal libation is married with passionfruit, cilantro lime, agave, habanero served in a glass with a tajin rim.
When it comes to menu options, it is not limited to ROE. There’s ROE Xpress, situated next door, a market with a menu of its own. Diners may order off this menu to be served at their table next door. Make sure you try Cevichos ($10) a generous bowl of crispy tortilla chips topped with ceviche, pico de gallo, spicy mayo, and citrus roe. It is a little heavy on the sauce, but so flavorful and addicting. It also pairs perfectly with our cocktails.
If you happen to be there during Happy Hour, do not miss Beef Yakitori ($7). It is misleading as I had expected a skewer of sorts, but it arrives with slices of beautifully charred beef on top of an aromatic fried brown rice, finished with a sunny side up quail egg. The fried rice is exquisite! So savory and tantalizing I wanted an entire bowl of it! SO SO good!
In the mood for sushi? Then by all means order Nirigi ($16) from ROE Xpress’ sushi menu. Our Black Cod with yuzu, black sea salt and shiso, and Kampachi with ponzu and a house wasabi entwined by bits of crunchy greens were both delectable!
Uni Tostada ($10) is right up my alley. The plump and luscious sliver of umami-packed sea urchin is unctuous, while the tostada it sits on provides textural contrast to the creaminess of the uni. Sublime!
I’m always in the mood for more fish, so Hamachi Collar ($18) it is! A simple dish, the collar is seasoned with a sprinkling of house-made 7-spice comprising hempseed, ginger, poppy seed, dry seaweed, black sesame, white sesame, red pepper, and togarashi — which technically is 14-spice as there are seven spices in togarashi shichimi! The seasonings do not overpower the oily, tender fish.
Another notable dish is Corn & Lobster Agnolotti ($20/$24 surf & turf) a homemade pasta stuffed with pureed corn and ricotta. Choose either Koji marinated steak or butter poached lobster as your protein, or better yet, have both with the surf and turf option. The agnolotti are delightful pillows of lusciously creamy bites, garnished with crispy leeks, presenting a lovely contrast on the palate.
Those with a sweet tooth should definitely try Yuzu Tart ($10) dusted with matcha powder. The curd portion is nice and tart, while the crust is buttery with the consistency of shortbread.
Chocolate lovers will hanker for The Dirty Banana ($10) a decadent bowl of cookie crumble, chocolate mousse, wild rice chocolate puffs, raspberries and raspberry jellies reminiscent of fruit roll ups. The wild rice puffs are insane! I especially loved the bruleed banana discs, as well as the house-made banana ice cream.
ROE is pretty much on point when appealing to my senses. Not only is it seafood-heavy, but its Mexican- and Asian-influenced flavors tempt and tantalize my palate. I can’t wait to come back and try the rest of the menu.
5374 E 2nd St
Long Beach, CA 90803