Traditional Japanese fare and energetic sushi masters keep Rumble Fish packed to the gills
I certainly have my own list of favorite Japanese dishes, but I task myself to experience new ones as well. Such was the case during a recent dinner at Scotts Valley’s Rumble Fish.
For starters, the Goa-Ae ($4.95) was a hillock of wilted spinach flavored with a generous amount of coarse, nutty sesame seed paste. A thin slice of tender beef with the flavor of skirt steak was rolled around a spear of asparagus, thin julienne of carrots and red cabbage, and cut sushi roll style.
This Asparagus Beef ($7.95) appetizer was covered with sauce; dark and thick like teriyaki but savory.
My date for the evening, my son, once a boy who considered calamari the only edible seafood, has returned from university and SoCal with a fine appreciation of sushi. Dragon Rolls always sound appealing, but they are topped with freshwater eel known as unagi, which are unsustainably farmed. My son and I opted instead for the Lion King ($11.95). A California Roll stuffed with buttery avocado was draped with slices of salmon, baked, and then drizzled with sweetened aioli and topped with iridescent orange tobiko roe which crunched brightly in the mouth. Miso soup at the ideal temperature bore a rich bonito flavor.
We also shared a two-item dinner combo ($14.95), which was served not in a box, but arranged artfully on a large plate with numerous surprises, including fresh fruit, pickled daikon radish, a scoop of potato salad with plump peas, and koroke, a panko-breaded and fried mashed potato croquette.
Tender slices of grilled rib-eye steak were topped with teriyaki sauce that wasn’t over-sweetened, but had a syrupy consistency which clung to the meat.
Shioyaki is a cooking method that coats the skin of a fish with salt before grilling. At Rumble Fish they apply this technique to salmon and mackerel. I chose the latter, a large white fillet, grill-marked on both sides. A perfect faint saltiness had penetrated the firm, boneless flesh.
Rumble Fish, 4727 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley, 440-9240. Beer and wine. Serving lunch daily 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. until 9:30. Open all day Saturday.
Capture a moment in spring with a gourmet box lunch and a visit to the secret gardens of Bonny Doon.
On the weekend of May 21 and 22 homeowners invite you into their living sanctuaries to enjoy ponds, rose gardens and chicken coops. The $20 admission benefits Bonny Doon Elementary School.
Box lunches, prepared by Bonny Doon Catering are not included in the price, but will be available at the school. Tickets are on sale at local nurseries or on the days of the event at Bonny Doon Elementary School.
The Hidden Gardens of Bonny Doon, Saturday, May 21 and Sunday May 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bonny Doon Elementary School, 1492 Pine Flat Road, Santa Cruz, 469-0688 or 423-7728. Admission $20. Visit bonnydoonartandwinefestival.com.