"A samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period 1185 - 1868 of Japan. A samurai became masterless after the death or fall of his master...": Those are the words on the wall above the bar at Sushi Ronin, which opened on Saturday, January 2, in Lower Highland, making it the first eatery to open in 2016. Sushi Ronin is already somewhat of a maverick in the neighborhood, filling in the ground floor of a new office building on Umatilla Street rather than a reclaimed vintage space on trendy West 32nd Avenue or Tejon Street, as many other eateries in the area have done.
The sleek and elegant new bar and dining room are the work of restaurateur Alexander Gurevich (who is in the process of turning the recently closed Limon into something new) and chef/partner Corey Baker, whose extensive experience in Japanese cuisine includes Sushi Den, Sushi Hai and Sushi Sasa. The menu starts with a traditional checklist of sashimi and nigiri, but also offers a roster of "sets" that pile on various types of raw and cooked fish (with a vegetarian sampler, too). Add to that a selection of warm and cold plates that embrace traditional cured, salted and otherwise marinated fish along with udon and soba bowls, and you've got something that's definitely new in the neighborhood.
The restaurant bills itself as "omakase-forward," meaning that guests are encouraged to put their trust in the hands of the chef. At the bar, ask for the reserve menu for a list of uncommon Japanese beers and single-malt whiskies, along with wine and sake by the glass served from a vacuum-sealed cabinet to ensure freshness.
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Sushi Ronin is open daily from 5 p.m. Weeknight closing hours have not been established, but the bar will stay open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.