Bang Bang Rocks Our World | Much More Than Just Ryan Gosling's Pretty Face

October 6, 2013

If you know about Bang Bang, you've undoubtedly heard of the shrine to Ryan Gosling in one of the women's bathroom stalls.  It has been plastered on the U-T, on, and on the social media pages of every starry-eyed socialite in town - even being featured in stories by the Hollywood Reporter and LAist.  Upon inspection, there are even lipstick smatterings on most of the photos, which is both unsanitary and borderline demented.   We're here to tell our readers that there is far more to Bang Bang than a silly stall, as the eatery is artistically designed and offers delicious Japanese-fusion fare in a fun and hip setting.

Enter Bang Bang on Market St. between 5th and 6th Ave. and ascend up the white subway-tile tunnel to the second floor eatery.  You'll notice the ever-changing 3D screen atop the steep staircase, a theme you'll notice throughout the restaurant.  Adjacent to the hostess stand, take in the intimate sushi lounge, decorated with unfinished wood, elegant curtains, a long sushi bar, and a badass dragon mural.  Formerly Airr Supper Club, the 7,000 square foot space has been completely redesigned.  The main dining room is dark and exciting, with the Japanese lanterns hanging from the ceiling framing the room.  A private lounge 'theater' opens up during nightlife hours and features a 5 foot wide disco bar - claimed to be the largest on the west coast.

From the bar, there are flaming punch bowls, a wide selection of sake and craft cocktails.  The only glaring absence is a line up of local beers, with Stone IPA by the bottle being the only homebody in the lot.  Sushi, sake and beer go together so well, and that is only one reason to  support the local craft beer industry. Of course, we ordered a pair of Stone IPAs and a carafe of warm sake and kept 'em coming throughout the meal.

The menu is separated into kitchen offerings, sushi bar staples and specials.  From the kitchen, we started with the recommended ahi poke & ice cream salad ($13).  This dish is definitely more of a salad than a traditional ahi poke dish.  A base of arugala, wakame, avocado, cherry tomatoes, scallions, carrots, daikon and cilantro form the foundation and is topped with thick cubes of blue fin tuna, a creamy and acidic sushi rice ice cream, all topped with crispy nori seaweed and served with miso dressing.  The combination of flavors were clean, pure, and refreshing, with the ice cream adding a unique element that worked to keep all the ingredients cold.  It's always annoying when a salad goes warm.

We also indulged in the prawn and pork steamed dumplings ($9), a mixture of minced shrimp and pork, ginger, garlic and scallions encased in a moist dumpling, topped with wasabi tobiko and accompanied by a Chinese red vinegar sauce.  Although we loved the taste and delicate presentation of the gorgeous dumplings, we weren't inspired by the red vinegar sauce and chose to instead use the Bang Death Sauce, a mixture of mango, pineapple and habanero that makes for an exciting palate journey from sweet to spicy.

From the specialty sushi rolls, we chose what we thought were the most original and interesting, with each of the rolls coming in a row of eight pieces.  The Thai-1-On ($16) offers tempura shrimp, avocado and Serrano peppers inside and is topped with beef carpaccio, peanut sauce, scallion, cilantro and chopped peanut. It was a tasty roll, but we really didn't get much of the expected traditional "Thai" peanut sauce flavor.

The RGT (an acronym for Rosemary, Garlic, Tuna) roll ($15) was very unique, packed with spicy tuna and cucumber and wrapped with sliced ahi that is topped with ponzu, Rosemary-garlic oil, cilantro, pistachio and garlic chips. We adore each ingredient offered in this roll, and the combination of them all was sublime.

We couldn't refuse The Gosling ($15) and are glad we didn't as it wound up being our favorite - filled with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, and jalapeno, and topped with yellowtail and chili aioli.  Gosling, you sexy sonuvagun.

Bang Bang is definitely the new "hip spot" in downtown San Diego.  With theatrical decor and scrumptious cuisine, the eatery will appeal to diners celebrating any occasion. On weekends, start with dinner and end with a dance party.

Bang Bang is located at 526 Market St. in downtown San Diego.  Happy hour is offered daily from 5-7pm, all day Tuesday and Sunday from 10pm to close.

526 Market St., Downtown
(619) 677-2264

Tue - Thu: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Fri - Sun: 5:00 pm - 2:00 am