Beyond Rolled Rice

dining_moboMobo has served legendary sushi for more than two decades. Rolls such as the broiled Pineapple Express ($13.95) with spicy tuna and macadamia nuts inside, smoked salmon, macadamias and pineapple on top offer sensational flavor and textural experiences.

There is another side to Mobo that may be overlooked; the more traditional Asian fare beyond miso soup and gyoza pot stickers.

The warm Udon Noodle Appetizer ($3.50) featured soft, fat wheat noodles in an earthy toasted sesame tahini sauce, similar to one I tasted with meat fondue in Tokyo.

Black sesame seeds, sliced cucumber and matchstick carrots added color to the savory dish.

I like the texture of Seaweed Salad ($4) which just barely resists the teeth, its vibrant translucent green color, and its sweet dressing perfumed with sesame oil.

For protein I picked four Green Lip Mussels ($5.50) on the half shell, each of which had been sliced into bite-sized pieces and covered in spicy aioli-like sauce before broiling. The sweetness of the accompanying teriyaki-style dipping sauce, flecked with red chili flakes and green onions contrasted nicely with the heat.

Pickled vegetables (tsukemono) are the traditional finale to a Japanese meal. Mobo offers two sizes of pickle plates, and I went for the added variety of Quite a Pickle ($8.50). I would suggest this assortment could serve eight people.

The diameter of a pinkie finger, orange gobo roots were crisp and a bit tough with an earthy bitterness. Daikon-three-ways included thin yellow circles of pickled takuan, fine white shreds of the fresh root, and peppery kaiware sprouts. Fresh vinegared and sweetened cucumber sunomono was joined by a sour pickled version. Umeboshi, small Japanese plums pickled with Japanese mint shiso leaves were puckeringly salty and sour, while the pickled shiitake mushrooms were tender and meaty.  | KP

Mobo Sushi, 105 South River St., Santa Cruz, 425-1700. Full bar. Serving lunch weekdays only 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Visit mobosushirestaurant.com.

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