Friday, August 21, 2015

Raw Sushi & Sake Lounge Review

In the Midtown Village area, there aren't many options for sushi. The majority of Philly's favorite sushi hotspots are clustered closer to Rittenhouse or Fairmount. But close to El Vez and Chef Marcie Turney's bank of restaurants (think: Barbuzzo, Little Nonna's, Lolita, Jamonera), Raw Sushi is hidden away.

So for Restaurant Week, the GF and I decided to stop by to see what they had to offer. The interior is sleek, reminiscent of an Asian-themed lounge. There's an outdoor area out back as well - a perfect area to grab an after-work drink. The restrooms? Interesting communal troughs. I'll leave it at that. 

But on to the food and drink - apologies for the phone pics!

Hara-Kiri ($12)
Gekkeikan sake, Sobieski vodka, wasabi, sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice

I opted to start off with a spicy tipple, an ode to that ritualistic self-suicide administered by Japanese samurai. The booze is hidden by the combo of wasabi and sriracha and had hints of a Bloody Mary with the tomato juice and Worcestershire coming through. Not exactly consistent with sushi, but a fun take nonetheless. Also, I had a bit of a cold so thought it would set me straight.

In any case, on to the meal proper. As most of you know, Restaurant Week is $35 per person for dinner, but I've provided pricing for some of the a la carte items I ordered as well.

Gyoza Soup
Shoyu fish broth, pork dumplings

The shoyu fish broth had umami undertones from the soy, with the fresh pork dumplings providing some additional savoriness. 

Tofu Soup 
Tofu, spinach, vegetables, enoki, kombu broth

The tofu soup was a bit lighter, with the delicate soft tofu, fresh enoki mushrooms, and spinach providing some freshness. 

Spicy Tuna Tartare ($14)
Chopped tuna, masago, scallions, special spicy sauce 

I was in the mood for tuna tartare so ordered this a la carte. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the fact that this was finely ground rather than chopped, and the sweetness (not at all spicy) from the mayo-based dressing on top really detracted from detecting any flavor from the tuna.

Cracklin' Calamari Salad ($15) 
Sweet Thai chili sauce  

I did enjoy an order of calamari, which were perfectly crisp, yet had a nice delicate chew. The sweet and spicy sauce came on the side and really complemented the squid.

Uni Sushi ($6)

I also went with uni sushi. The server wasn't sure where it was from other than "out West," so I assume it was Santa Barbara sea urchin as it was sufficiently creamy and sweet.

Uni Sashimi ($11)

I couldn't get enough so also had the uni sushi, which was interesting in that it took on the essence of the bed of cucumber, which provided a lightness to the butteriness of the urchin.

Sweet Potato Tempura Roll ($7)


If we get sushi, the GF always needs to get her sweet potato tempura fix. Sadly, these could have been crisper and needed a bit more salt. 

Sushi Red & White Platter 
Salmon, Yellowtail, Tuna, Tuna Roll

Restaurant Week purportedly allowed us to choose which roll accompanied our sushi platter of salmon, yellowtail, and tuna nigiri. However, our waitress simply brought us a standard tuna roll without asking. The nigiri was fresh and the rice had a light vinegar acidity with a decent bit of bite to it.

Salmon Volcano Roll

We also had the salmon volcano roll, which came with tuna within and salmon on top, with plenty of masago to provide pop and some panko to add texture. Slightly spicy and definitely crunchy, this is what you expect with Americanized sushi joints. Overall, it was fine, but the abundance of rice and dressing overpowered the fish for my taste. 

Red bean, green tea

Mochi was nice, with a great chew and gluttonous texture, with the sweetness of red bean and the lightness of green tea coming through.
Mango Sorbet

The mango sorbet was creamy and provided a sweet citrusy brightness that really cleansed the palate. 

Overall, Raw Sushi seems to have fresh tuna and salmon for its standard offerings. However, I would expect more of an Asian fusion element to sushi.

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