By Vicki Paris Goodman
There is something so inviting about Suba, the hip new sushi and tapas restaurant in Bixby Knolls. Maybe it’s the friendly greeting you receive on entering, or the trendy décor that is distinctly casual at the same time. Or perhaps it’s seeing your neighbors gathered at tables munching on creative sushi rolls and empanadas. Even the fun wall art seems to beckon. And certainly the smiles and easy chit-chat from the sushi chefs hint at accessibility and seem to say, “We’re glad you’re here.”
After admiring the prominent sushi bar and the wall of wines strikingly backlit in neon magenta, we decided on a table under one of the big-screen TVs that was tuned to the basketball game. Sound was either off or low; there was no distraction. We were also pleased to find that, although there were quite a few other diners, the ambient noise level permitted easy conversation.
Now I’ve always been a little leery of fusion restaurants. When an establishment claims to do more than one cuisine well, I fear mediocrity on all counts. In the case of Suba, however, such apprehension is definitely not warranted. Everything we ordered was fabulous.
To start, our server, Melina, offered us tastes of the restaurant’s homemade sangria. Suba’s version is lush and fruity with just a touch of sweetness. We had to have more. I’m ashamed to admit I even used my fork to finish off the bits of wine-marinated fruit that had floated merrily in the drink. (And I would do it again!)
Choosing a sushi roll was not easy, as the list of Suba “signature” creations was extensive and awe-inspiring. But choose we did, and the verdict was “The Bixby,” an ample spicy tuna roll topped with a slice of halibut and a dab of spicy mayo. What made this roll pop was a sliver of fresh lemon tucked under the halibut. Fantastic.
Neighbors Karen Weiss and Laura Sanders stopped by our table to say hello. They were raving about the sushi roll they’d just devoured– “The Closer”– an eclectic creation of shrimp tempura, crab, eel, avocado, cream cheese, and eel sauce. We inquired as to the bottom line and were told: “It was the best roll I’ve ever had.” High praise indeed.
After enjoying the Aguacata Y Camaron (avocado and shrimp), a tapas of large grilled shrimp atop a bed of guacamole and red salsa served with French bread slices, we moved on to the Empanada de Res. Wow, was it delish! Two large piping hot savory pastry turnovers filled with perfectly seasoned ground beef, the empanadas were a hit.
But the best thing of all was the Datilas con Cabrales– a tapas plate of whole dates stuffed with Cabrales blue cheese and a whole almond, all wrapped in bacon. OMG. The sweetness of the date, pungency of the cheese, crunch of the almond, and savory salty goodness of the Applewood smoked bacon were almost more than mere earthlings deserve.
And we barely scratched the surface of Suba’s abundant offerings. The menu could easily cover ten visits without the two of us ordering the same thing twice. (Although, I can’t imagine a meal at Suba without those stuffed dates!)
Apart from tapas, sushi, sashimi, and the various sushi rolls, both standard offering and “signature,” Suba offers not one but six– yes, six!– varieties of ceviche made out of ahi tuna, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and salmon. Can’t wait to try those.
There are also a few “large plate” items, for instance, the Paella Suba containing pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, as well as the Spanish-style Toro Burger and the Pasta Con Queso, an intriguing version of macaroni and cheese.
Alas, it will all have to wait for a future visit, which will likely occur sooner, not later. Something to look forward to!
Suba Sushi & Tapas Lounge, located at 3550 Long Beach Blvd. in Bixby Knolls, can be reached at (562) 595-1959. Beer and an extensive list of wines are available. Restaurant hours are Tuesday–Sunday, noon–10pm. Closed Monday. (Starting April 3, Suba will be closed Sundays and open Mondays). Special $7.95 lunch menu available weekdays. Happy-hour food and beverage specials offered 4pm to 7pm weekdays, noon to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays.