Located along the fashionable Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla, Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar is a trendy, upscale, lounge-y restaurant that happens to have one of the best happy hours in all of San Diego, offering an array of high quality, extravagant dishes that are unique to the area and are an excellent value. And we’re talking a classy and refined daily happy hour – not two-dollar tacos and beers.
Chef Stephen Window combines traditional Asian fare with French-style execution, infusing dishes with the tastes of Asia and Europe, making Roppongi sort of a tapas bar meets sushi lounge. Choose from one of the six uniquely diverse seating areas, including the sleek sushi bar, outdoor fire pit, ornate dining room, lounge, or, my personal favorite, the contemporary covered patio with modern designs.
The ginger mojito was a definitive favorite: a light and refreshing combination of Zaya rum, ginger elixir, fresh lime, mint, and a touch of soda.
The thin chai chili maragarita is made with light agave nectar, Hornitos Reposado tequila, and limes. Even as a lover of spice, this margarita had me coughing from the spice scratching my throat, and by all means, don’t eat the peppers! Due to the harsh spice, the heavy soda, and the uber-saltiness of the Shiso infused salt rim, I moved my focus to Roppongi's lengthy wine list and switched to a bold and beautiful Mt. Veeder cabernet sauvignon ($17) to soothe my throat and calm my palate in preparation for indulging.
Of the 23 tapas being offered for half price on the happy hour menu, the crispy quinoa cakes were a highlight. These light and delicious panko-crusted cakes of quinoa are flavored with coconut curry, topped with finely chopped Windrose Farms apples, celery, raisins, and mango chutney, and sit atop a smear of Greek yogurt with yuzu and honey – fluffy with a touch of sweetness and a delectable crunch – a perfect complement to this layered dish ($11/$5.50 on HH).
And the scallops! Oh, the scallops. If you’ve been following us, you know we’re not big fans of scallops. Maybe it’s because on Chef Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen where they are the source of infinite frustration and failure. Or maybe we just haven’t learned to appreciate the delicate sweetness of this coveted shellfish. I don’t know. But Chef Window won me over, and I declare his pan-seared diver scallops the best in all the land! These delicious little creatures are cooked medium rare and served atop an adorable and perfectly crunchy mini potato pancake with Thai basil and other microgreens, sundried tomatoes, and a creamy chive hollandaise made with scallions and ginger oil ($18/$9 on HH). #lifechanger.
Of the five specialty rolls on the daily happy hour menu we sampled the beautifully designed Prospect roll with spicy Dungeness crab, yamagobo (Japanese pickled burdock root), creamy avocado, hirame (fluke), tuna, green onion, jalapeno, habanero masago and tiny slices of fresh lime – a creative touch of tangy citrus ($15/$7.50).
The famous signature crab stack is a mosaic of colors, fruits and vegetables. This dish comes piled high with sweet and succulent crab, pea shoots, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mango, avocado, peanuts and cilantro, dressed with a light and spicy ginger lime dressing ($20/$10) – one hell of a happy hour bargain!
Granted we shared each of these appetizers, so we were not left feeling overly full and lethargic as we would after consuming such an array of food, but rather given a comfortable fullness which we accredit to Chef Window’s overriding theme – crisp, fresh, and light. Feeling confident in my unmatched ability to indulge, we ended the meal with the warm melting chocolate decadence ($9): a house made lava cake, goo-ing with extremely (but not overly) rich fudge, served with homemade vanilla gelato, and complemented by artfully designed hearts of strawberry and vanilla coolies. The outer cake was crisp and moist at the same time, and the gooey center was just heavenly!
|Save room for dessert!|
ROPPONGI RESTAURANT & SUSHI BAR
875 Prospect Street, La Jolla
Lunch: 11:30 am – 5:00 pm daily
Happy Hour: Half-Priced Tapas and Select Sushi Rolls & $8 handcrafted cocktails
Sunday – Monday: 3:00pm – Close & Tuesday – Saturday: 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Dinner: 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm Sunday through Thursday
5:00 pm – 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday