Friday, January 8, 2010

Ra Sushi

To be honest, I didn't expect much when I went to Ra Sushi. It's first impression is definitely of a place more focused on scene than substance. The lights are dim, the music of the loud clubby variety, and the sushi is much more trendy than traditional.

That said, Mr. AT and I were actually quite impressed with several of the dishes we tried. There were definitely some misses, but there were some significant hits, too, and that's more than I can say for it's sushi fusion competitors.

Ra recently launched a new menu, focused largely on smallish sharable Asian fusion plates, as well as some new cocktails. The cocktails we tried, the "bangin' blueberry mojito" and the "strawberry soju sunrise" came in giant pint glasses, which seemed at first like good value, but they are way way way too sweet for me, and in such a large glass, 99% of it went to waste. After a couple of sips, I stuck with sake instead, lest my teeth rot out right at the table.

I have no idea if the fish fusion restaurants like Ra have access to is indeed any different than you find somewhere more authentic like Hayakawa, but that's the only way I can explain the relative weakness of the more pared down dishes compared to the ultra-fusiony rolls.

Sesame Lemon Whitefish and Garlic Citrus Yellowtail were certainly tasty, but definitely not standout dishes. The fish lacked the buttery fleshiness found at the very best authentic sushi restaurants, and the dishes were ultimately forgettable. On the other hand, Ra Chips and Salsa and the Hot Mess, two dishes that would surely send a sushi purist into a conniption fit, were flat out awesome.

Their take on chips and salsa combines spicy tuna tartare with cucumbers, avocado and fresh salsa and is served with wanton chips. The salsa and tuna tartare combo was full of flavor and the crunch of the wonton chip was an appealing counterpoint to the soft avocado and tuna. This was a higly scarfable dish and great for sharing.

Even more delicious was the Hot Mess. It is indeed a mess to eat, but this heavenly combination of crispy rice balls and spicy king crab mix, baked and topped with jalapeno and cilantro, is one of the most spectacularly yummy dishes I've had in ages. Crispy sushi rolls have long been a favorite of mine. The combination of hot and cold, soft and crunchy is just too good to be true, but alas, I haven't found a worthy competitor to my LA and NY faves until now. The textures and flavors in the Hot Mess are perfectly balanced and there's a just-right level of spicy heat. This dish quite literally explodes with flavor.

Ultimately it's best to focus on fusion sushi dishes at Ra and save your sashimi hunger for somewhere a bit more traditional. You have to know what you're in for at Ra - it's definitely a big night out, see and be seen kind of vibe, but if you're up for that, and some delish fusion sushi, then it's a worthwhile addition to Atlanta's generally so-so sushi scene. If nothing else, the Hot Mess is worth a return visit to Ra! I'm still drooling just thinking about it!

Ra Sushi Bar
1080 Peachtree Street, Suite 8

Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 267-0114

RA Sushi on Urbanspoon



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