Sashi Hour and More in Manhattan Beach

A couple weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of dining* at Sashi, a swank “sushi + sake lounge” located in the Metlox Plaza in downtown Manhattan Beach.  With great decor, an amazing menu, and a capabable staff, Sashi sets itself apart from the rest of the sushi restaurant crowd.

The purpose of my visit was to learn more about Sashi’s happy hour, better known as “Sashi Hour”.   Late-shift workers and 9-to-5 types alike, please take note:  From now until Memorial Day happy hour prices are available from 5 – 10 PM in the lounge, Sunday through Thursday.

Sashi Hour Trios

Take a quick look at the Sashi Hour menu, and you’ll see that three is the magic number;  Each item on the Sashi Hour menu is served as a trio.

Available for $9, some of the small plates might seem out of place for a sushi joint.  You’ll find tacos, kobe sliders made three ways, and a tempura plate featuring shrimp, calamari, and chicken wings.  But the menu stays true to its roots with sashimi, robata, and hand rolls.

The Sashi Hour drinks are pretty standard with discounts on sake, well drinks, draft beers, and house wine.  You might turn your head sideways, though, when you see the beer trio which features Sapporo, Asahi, and Hoegaarden.  Yes, Hoegaarden!  Apparently this Belgian wheat beer with slightly citrusy flavors pairs nicely with Asian cuisine.  I was always drinking it with brats so I never would have known!

Dinner that Feels Like Vacation

Of course, there was more to explore at Sashi than just happy hour.  When I walked into Sashi, I felt like I was taking a step out of the daily grind and into some sort of vacation spot.

Just inside the front door, the lounge stretched out in front of me.  To the left was the host stand and beyond that was a dining room and  sushi bar.  The lounge was arranged living room style with several pillow covered couches, low tables, and lamps.

As guests entered and left, they were greeted warmly by the staff.  Taking a look at the crowd enjoying the place, I noticed it was a pleasant mix of South Bay diners.  Some after-6 types were enjoying drinks at the bar with their ties loosened.  A family — complete with a toddler in a stroller — was relaxing on one of the couches while enjoying dinner.  The wall behind the bar, illuminated by a huge pink light, bathed everything in a warm, rosy glow.

Everything's Rosy at the Bar in Sashi's Lounge.

Diving Into Dinner

After a few moments of soaking in the vibe of the place, I met with Greg (one of the owners) and Jacqui (one of the managers).  They made me feel at home and put me in the care of Whitney, one of their top-notch servers.  I was a bit overwhelmed with the menu so I asked her about some of her favorites.  After a brief discussion, I put my experience completely in her hands and asked her to surprise me.  Little did I know, I was in for a treat!

I started off with a drink from their specialty cocktail menu.  Growing up as a kid in the south, I lived for those summer days where I could pick blackberries off the bush and eat them right away.  So it was without hesitation that I went with the Black Mamba ($12), a savory and sweet Grey goose cocktail with black berry, rosemary, and a hint of citrus.

The Savory and Sweet Black Mamba Martini.

To get into the meal, Whitney started me off with a small bite, the Gindara ($5),  grilled Alaskan black cod on a skewer, marinated in sweet miso.  The fish was tender, moist and had a wonderful grilled flavor.  The miso was almost plum-like and complemented the fish nicely.

Sweet Miso Marinated Black Cod

Next up was one of Sashi’s signature dishes, cripsy rice and spicy tuna.  After tasting it I realized that this crispy rice wasn’t the average snap, crackle, and pop!  The dish consisted of pan fried cripsy rice topped with spicy tuny and serrano pepper.  Pleasantly chewy and crispy at the same time, the texture of the rice was an experience by itself.  The heat of the mildly spicy tuna was rounded out by the serrano pepper for a one-two punch of subtle and then stronger heat.

Pan Fried Crispy Rice topped with Spicy Tuna and Serrano Pepper

The headlining entree was an out-of-this-world Rainbow Roll (price unavailable).  Wrapped in “tuna, salmon, yellowtail and fresh seasoned fish”, the roll might have come across like any other rainbow roll.  But it was the  crispy eel and cucumber inside the roll — instead of california roll style crab or shrimp —  that made this roll a stand out.

Rainbow Roll with Eel and Cucumber

Having trusted Whitney all this time to guide the meal, of course I put my faith in her for dessert.  She suggested one of her favorite dishes, a chocolate soufflé made from scratch.  Unfortunately it takes about 30 minutes to make and I wasn’t able to hang out much longer.  I  promised to come back for the soufflé and enjoyed another selection which was probably almost as decadent; a brownie served with green tea ice cream and passion fruit whip.

The brownie was moist and had a nice density.  The mild chocolate flavor was not overly sweet and gave way to the nuts inside.  Jacqi, the manager, mentioned that the nuts vary with the chef’s choosing and might be almonds, chashews, or macadamias depending on his selection.  What really set the dish off, though, was the passion fruit whipped cream and home made green tea ice cream.  The smooth and delicate ice cream and the light, airy whip, added a playful fruitiness to the already chocolaty and nutty dish.

Dessert Goes Nuts With a Brownie from Heaven.

Iron Chef?  Been There, Done That

Of course, I have to give a shout to the chef behind the menu at Sashi.  Taste a few dishes and you might think that Chef Makoto is worthy enough to cook in The Food Network’s Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef. Well, you’d be right!

Chef Morimoto and Chef Makoto at Sashi*

Chef Makoto has served as Iron Chef Morimoto’s sous-chef in 13 battles on the Food Network.  When Morimoto comes to LA, he often visits Sashi to hang out with his protege.  Watch out for Makoto on Food Network as he takes on an Iron Chef in his very own challenge.

I have to extend a big thank you to Greg, Jacqui, Whitney, Chef Makoto, and the rest of the staff at Sashi.  I  had a wonderful time dining with you and look forward to returning soon.

* Photo credit for Morimoto/Makoto goes to Sashi MB. Food and beverages in this review were provided compliments of Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge.

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.