Outside Nick’s, a wet and fearsome storm raged: but inside, warmth, hospitality and great food reigned

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

On a stormy day in Laguna I set off to seek warmth, comfort and of course great food. Luckily for me, this week’s report gave me the opportunity to do just that, as it was time for me to report on the ever so popular “go to” place in Laguna Beach: Nick’s.

Established in 2008, Nick’s has become something of a brand, with five locations under its belt, all of which have excellent reputations. I was confident that this evening’s tasting was going to be something special. 

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, the night I chose to report on Nick’s was the Friday night of the infamous storm. Nick’s is notoriously busy, so I thought maybe visiting them on a wet crazy night would be the best idea as it might be a little quieter. It was indeed quieter but by no means empty. The lure of Nick’s food warmth and generators (most areas in town were without power) seemed to pull in many customers.

Click on photo for a larger image

Nick’s generated both light and great food on the evening of the Great Storm

The chef that evening was Chef Rene Regaldo. He is the newest chef at Nick’s and started his career as a line chef, working his way up to the top of the tree. The restaurant manager was the delightful Krystal, who was attentive, knowledgeable and who clearly loved her job. She had been a fan of Nick’s for years, mainly visiting South of Nick’s in her hometown of San Clemente and, having carved a successful career at PF Chang’s for eight years, is delighted to have been part of the Nick’s family for the past 12 months.

Our server was Katie, who was bright, bubbly, knowledgeable and very attentive.  The staff at Nick’s have never disappointed whenever I have visited.

My food journey at Nick’s

We decided to try a couple of starters. I chose Nick’s original bacon devilled eggs, lightly fried and with crumbled nueske’s bacon. We were served four eggs, two of which were a gluten free option (non-fried) and the other two were regular. Both were delicious.

Click on photo for a larger image

A devilish choice on a devilish night: delicious eggs

We then went for one of the specials, the fire roasted artichoke, served with herb mayo and lemon butter. This was delicious, light yet tasty and I would totally order this again, maybe as a bar snack with friends. 

There were three of us taking part in this food report and we each chose a dish. From the house specialties menu we selected pan seared Chilean sea bass served with lemon beurre blanc, sautéed spinach with garlic and slivered almonds and whipped mashed potato. I have to be honest, I have had this here before and it is one of my favorite dishes. Yet again it did not disappoint. The fish was fresh, beautifully cooked and the accompanying sides were perfect. 

Another dish ordered from the house specialties menu: the baby back pork ribs, beer-braised, with Nick’s house recipe BBQ sauce, served with thin cut fries and petit bistro salad. These were so good. The petit bistro salad was amazing and something I will definitely be trying to replicate at home. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Gluten-free burger came wrapped in lettuce leaves

The final dish was from the sandwiches and burger section of the menu. We ordered Nick’s Burger, which, I may add, if you Google best burger in Laguna Beach, this comes out as top. We changed the burger to the gluten free option, so instead the burger came wrapped in crisp iceberg lettuce.  We ordered this with a side of Nick’s fries, and it really was a very tasty burger, perfect for a cold stormy evening.

It was then onto dessert and this did not disappoint. We ordered two desserts, one a warm butter cake with a crystalized sugar crust, served with Haagan daz vanilla ice cream and served with a berry compote. This was outstanding and a large portion, but we managed to finish it all. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Butter cake was the ideal dessert – tasty, and not too big a portion

Our second dessert was a hot fudge sundae, vanilla ice cream, Helen Grace hot fudge, fresh whipped cream and chocolate toffee crunch. This was also really good and although I am not a whipped cream fan, I did enjoy it. There was no gluten free dessert option, so our gluten free guest could merely watch the dessert-eating going on.

To accompany our food we had a couple of cocktails: a delicious cucumber Collins and a local draft beer called Trigger Figure by the Artifacts beer company based out of San Clemente. Both were gorgeous.

Nick’s turned a stormy night of unrest into a very pleasurable evening of great food, warm hospitality and a unique charm that makes Nick’s so popular locally. No wonder this place is always busy, come rain, hail or shine.

Nick’s Laguna Beach is located at 440 South Coast Hwy. Call 949.376.8595 for more information.

Coyote Grill: Tremendous tacos along with magical margaritas make this eatery a fabulous fun zone

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

#Unpretentious, #authentic, #truelaguna, #eclectic, #exciting, #loyal, #regulars, #crazy #bajaatthebeach – if this were an Instagram post, these are the many things I would be hash-tagging about the wonderful Coyote Grill. 

However this isn’t Instagram, and I have to write like a grownup.

In 1989 Kim “Coyote” Bryant made the decision to downsize from his original restaurant Café Del Clemente and open up a “modest little shack” in south Laguna, Coyote Grill. Kim, who is half Korean, half Italian, was adopted by a white family and raised in Santa Monica, yet he frequented Baja so much throughout his life that he couldn’t help falling in love with the Baja cuisine. 

That’s how Coyote Grill came about. After many renovations and years of building a loyal and long standing team, Coyote Grill has become a Laguna institution. Kim has retired and now lives on the Big Island, leaving his wonderful daughter Desiree Gomez to take over the running of this legendary Laguna eatery.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Desiree Gomez loves her job managing Coyote Grill, keeping it all in the family

Desiree has been a firm fixture in Coyote Grill for 27 years, working from age 12 busing tables and she’s made her way up the ranks taking on every role that Coyote Grill has to offer. At age 18, just after she graduated high school – she laughs, saying she took a brief hiatus, leaving the business to “get a real job,” – she worked as a fry cook on T Street Beach, then went on to have a brief stint in a video store.  

However, Desiree made her way back to Coyote Grill, and you can see and feel the love she has for this place and the customers through her food and her attitude. 

Coyote Grill is a hub of eclectic décor: hand-painted murals adorn the walls and the hardwood floors, with paw prints carved out and peso coins, are a true reflection of its quirky taste.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Coyote Grill is a “hub of eclectic décor”

Desiree is quick to point out that she uses only local Laguna people when it comes to renovations and closes during the winter for five days each year to renovate.

I am always so impressed when I go to a place that has a long-serving team. And Coyote Grill is a great example: the longest standing member is Victor, who has served for 27 years. 

The staff forms a real team and you can tell there is chemistry between them, which gives this place its unique ambience. 

I ask Desiree what the secret is to her team’s camaraderie. She explains to me that when it comes to hiring, she has to find people who mesh well together, who can laugh and have fun with customers no matter what time of day they come in to eat. 

Coyote Grill is customer friendly, specifically local friendly. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Taco Tuesday is great, but so are tacos every other day of the week at Coyote

During the recession, the restaurant started a Coyote Grill Card, a reward card that gives customers 10 percent back on food orders. Some people now have large amounts of money on this card and, as Desiree explains, with many regulars the card gives people a bit of a bragging rights status. 

Coyote isn’t all locals though; this place (particularly during the summer months) is really popular with tourists too. Although it is “off the beaten track” of downtown Laguna, the resorts often recommend people to head to Coyote Grill to experience “real Laguna.”  

My food journey at the Coyote Grill

My food journey took me to the Coyote Grill for Taco Tuesday. Every Tuesday from 3 p.m. until close every taco is $3.50 and this is a firm favorite with many Laguna locals. I chose a selection of tacos to try. I started with a chorizo taco, one I hadn’t tried before, and it was really delicious, ground spicy chorizo served on a corn tortilla with cilantro and onions and a lime wedge. I’d highly recommend this, it was really tasty.

Next up was my favorite, the calamari taco, tender strips of calamari, lightly battered and fried, served with Coyote’s secret sauce with cabbage cheese and cilantro, served on a flour tortilla. This is always a hit with me, and Desiree explained to me that it was a customer who encouraged them to do this dish as a one-off 12 years ago. It has since become a regular favorite on the menu.

Click on photo for a larger image

Calamari and shrimp tacos are favorites at Coyote Grill

For me a taco tasting wouldn’t be a taco tasting without a carnitas taco, and Coyote Grill doesn’t disappoint: try their corn tortillas served with Mexican roasted pork and topped with pico de gallo, served with guacamole and salsa verde - perfect.

And finally I chose the blackened shrimp taco, consisting of blackened shrimp coated with Coyote’s secret sauce, served on a corn tortilla with cabbage cheese, tomato and cilantro. This was delicious and very more-ish. 

Alongside the delicious food, I also sampled Coyote’s magical margaritas. Margaritas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the beverage selection at Coyote. Wines, beers, and various tequilas are available, and as with everything Coyote does, the emphasis on selling “local Laguna” beverages is clear.

It’s safe to say that I love the whole vibe of Coyote Grill. I love the energy, the color, the magic and the sense of family. It’s busy for a number of reasons: great food, great drinks, great prices, great atmosphere and what’s more, it’s a guaranteed fun zone, any day of the week.

Watermarc checks all the boxes: fabulous food, great staff, an adventurous chef, and a family-friendly menu

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

As with all of my food reports, I like to do a little background research on the chefs and the owners. 

If you Google Marc Cohen, you’ll find pages after pages of accolades, so to say I was excited about my tasting at Watermarc was an understatement. What is even more exciting is that Watermarc is not the only place in Laguna Beach where I can sample Marc Cohen’s magic. 

Twenty-one years ago Marc was responsible for opening 230 Forest Ave and he has been the executive chef and co-owner there ever since. Alongside this, he also owns Opah Restaurant and Bar (in Aliso Viejo and Irvine). I asked him the secret to his success. He replied, “No secret, just hard work” and clearly he has worked very hard to perfect his craft.

Marc’s magical touch with menus started back east

Marc Cohen originally hails from Baltimore on the East Coast and received his culinary training at Johnson and Wales. After graduating, he worked in the Florida Keys and then Washington DC, where he was named among the top 100 chefs for his work at SuttonPlace’s Blue Point Grill. In 1994 he was lured to the West Coast where his Laguna Beach career started.

Watermarc is the “newest” of Marc’s restaurants, but it is by no means “new” in that it has been successful in Laguna Beach for the past eight years. Kevin, our server told us that every Mother’s Day is the restaurant’s anniversary. Kevin has worked here for all eight years, and there is nothing he doesn’t know about the food, the wine and the menu. 

Variety that doesn’t overwhelm

Kevin is passionate about Watermarc, explaining to me how the restaurant has maintained a very consistent menu for the last few years, only tweaking certain dishes with seasonal changes and differences. The reason for this is that the menu works… there’s a saying, “If it aint broke- don’t fix it’ and Watermarc’s menu is definitely one that is not broke.

There is a wide variety of dishes on the menu, but it is by no means overwhelming. Upon first glance I saw a Spanish influence with a paella section and the Spanish octopus in the grazing plates section. So already I was excited.

My guests this evening were my children, Jesse, age 14, and Lula, age 10.

I love to take my children on tastings as not only does it encourage them to try new things but it’s also great for me to see a restaurant from a younger person’s eyes.  Laguna Beach is very much a family town and it is always nice to find a great place to eat that is also-kid friendly.

Our food journey at Watermarc

We started our food journey with a few dishes from the “grazing plate” section of the menu. With more than15 plates to chose from, we enlisted the help of Chef Marc to recommend the ones he thought we should try.

We chose the ahi watermelon skewers, served with seaweed salad and ponzu. Not only were these beautiful to look at but also they were absolutely delicious. I encourage anyone who tries this to just shove it all in your mouth, no shame. This dish needs to be consumed in its entirety as the combination of flavors is interesting and complementary. I absolutely loved this dish and so did my children.

Click on photo for a larger image


Ahi and watermelon skewers make for a satisfying mouthful

Next from the grazing plates section was the sizzling garlic shrimp served with fennel, sweet onion and citrus fruits. Again this dish was superb; the shrimp was beautifully cooked and the combination of the garlic fennel was perfection. But what I really liked was how the citrus fruits elevated this dish, turning it into something that was so palatable I could have easily have eaten a huge plate and nothing else.

Kevin recommended we try the house fries, which are cooked in white truffle oil, garnished with sea salt and served with a garlic aioli. These were great and a huge hit with my daughter, who spent half her younger years in Ibiza, Spain, with me, eating aioli for breakfast (I’m not exaggerating).

Click on photo for a larger image


Sizzling shrimp with citrus – plus fennel – create a perfect combination of tastes

It was then time to get to the entrees.  

My daughter chose from the kids’ menu, and went for the angel hair pasta served with marinara sauce. She also had a side of broccolini. This was a great kids’ dish and a large portion.

My son aka “the bottomless pit” and carnivore chose the braised short rib, served with a soft truffle polenta, spinach and maitake mushroom. This was something else… The shortrib was so delicious, probably one of the nicest short rib dishes I’ve ever tried. My son devoured it and then told me he couldn’t talk as he was in a “food coma” which implies it was really good.

I chose the Chilean seabass, which a few people had told me was phenomenal. The seabass was cooked beautifully; it fell apart, tasted fresh, and melted in my mouth.

Click on photo for a larger pic


“If you like seabass, this is the dish to try”

The fish was served on top of a bed of heirloom carrots, glazed with clover honey and chimichurri. Like all of Marc Cohen’s dishes, the mixture of flavors, and the magic that happens during every bite of this dish was phenomenal. If you like seabass, this is the dish to try.

It was then time for my daughter’s favorite part of the evening, dessert time.

Chef Cohen sent us his recommendations, which I was so pleased about, though it was hard to decide because they all looked so good.

We were presented with two desserts: a white chocolate macadamia bread pudding, served with pineapple ice cream and Kahlua Anglaise. 

There was also a delicious dried plantain that my children fought over. This dessert was beautiful to look at, to eat, everything. All I could think of was my mum back in England, who would have gone crazy for it. (I’ll be coming back with her when she next visits.) 

Click on photo for a larger image


There’s nothing basic about this bread and butter pudding

The second dessert came presented in a Darth Vader lunch box and had three homemade Ding Dongs, Ding Dongs are small chocolate cakes shaped a little like a hockey puck containing a creamy filling. There were three, each individually wrapped for us and served with an old-style school carton of milk. These were fabulous and such a great idea for children… (Who am I kidding, for adults too!) 

Our experience at Watermarc was exceptional.  

On the morning of the tasting, some ladies in my Pilates class asked me my “go to” restaurant. The truth is, I have a few, but this place has definitely made my list, because of its fabulous food from an adventurous chef, staff rich in knowledge and a family friendly menu. Watermarc definitely checked every box. 

Watermarc is located at 448 S. Coast Hwy. Call 949-376-6272 for reservations.

The Cliff: The terrific food, drinks, view, ambiance, and live music make for a truly Laguna experience

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

With a 180-degree view over the coastline of Laguna, it’s small wonder that The Cliff is constantly buzzing with guests from far and wide, as well as local regulars. 

The Cliff prides itself on its location, ambiance, event space, and its live music – there is music at The Cliff most nights – and its food.  

I had only ever visited The Cliff to watch live acts and have a cocktail or occasionally enjoy a breakfast from their delicious brunch menu. So I was excited to try the lunchtime menu.

As always I was accompanied for my tasting. If I ate everything on these tastings, I’d have to be hoisted into my bathing suit by the summer. I took Stu News’ very own Shaena Stabler, and what wonderful company she was. 

Our food journey at The Cliff

It’s still January, and I’m still detoxing, therefore I stuck to water, but I can assure you that The Cliff does cocktails very well. I am particularly partial to starting a Sunday fun-day here with a spicy Bloody Mary with breakfast while soaking up the spectacular view from their patio.

Having just come from visiting New Orleans, my love for oysters was reignited, so when it came to choosing my starter, there was little debate.

Click on photo for a larger image


The ocean view provides the perfect backdrop for tasty oysters

The raw oysters were huge, served with lemon, horseradish and cocktail sauce. We ordered half a dozen, and that was perfect to share between the two of us.

Shaena told me I had to try The Cliff crab dip: apparently it’s to die for, she said. The dip is made up of blue crab, melted Brie, Parmesan, artichoke and cream cheese and is served with toasted baguette. 

This dip certainly was to die for, and definitely meant for sharing as the portion was huge. It was so tasty and very more-ish. I took some home for my family and they loved it. I would absolutely order this again.

Click on photo for a larger image


The generously portioned crab dip is “to die for”

It was then on to the entrées. The entrée section is huge and is made up of different categories: burgers and hot dogs, salad, Mexican style dishes, soups, seafood specialties, sandwiches and wraps. 

We decided to go for the mahi mahi fish tacos, consisting of grilled mahi with shredded cabbage, cilantro, red onion and roasted salsa. There is a choice of corn or flour tortillas. We chose corn. This dish is served with Spanish rice and mixed greens, but I held the rice and added more mixed greens. This dish was great, beautifully presented, colorful and really tasty.

We chose from the sandwich section next and went for the prime rib dip, slow-roasted thin sliced prime rib, served on a French roll with au jus and horseradish cream. We added mushrooms and onions to this on the advice of our really helpful and very friendly waitress Tara. This dish was delicious. The beef melted in your mouth and the au jus complemented it beautifully.  

Again it was a large portion, so my lucky son got to devour the remaining half, which he also really enjoyed.

Click on photo for a larger image


The bananas foster bites were naughty but very nice

It was only polite that we try a dessert, so we again asked Tara what she recommended.  We tried the bananas foster bites, which are battered and deep-fried and served with chocolate and caramel sauce. Naughty but very nice.  I’m not a huge fried fan, but these were very light on the batter and the cheesecake inside was phenomenal.  There was a large serving of these, so yet again my children did very well with the “doggy bag.”

I enjoyed my lunch at The Cliff with Shaena. I particularly enjoyed the crab dip and can totally understand why that is a favorite. 

If you want good food, fantastic ocean views, great service, an array of live music on various nights, as well as a place to hold beautiful oceanfront events, The Cliff is the perfect venue.

The Cliff is located at 577 S. Coast Hwy. Call 949-494-1956 or visit www.thecliffrestaurant.com for more information.

Eating lunch or dinner at Tortilla Republic puts lovers of Mexican food in a blissful state of mind

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

This week’s report took me to Tortilla Republic, a firm favorite of mine for Taco Tuesday, however this was Wednesday – but it was also my parents’ last night in Laguna Beach before they headed back to England. 

I thought this place would be perfect, particularly for my dad, who has only recently developed a love for Mexican cuisine.

Tortilla Republic offers inventive modern Mexican fare with unexpected flavors, using all-natural meats as well as organic and locally grown produce. It offers a variety of gastronomic experiences, with updated Mexican classics made with fresh seasonal ingredients. 

The restaurant prides itself on signature dishes including tacos de jicama, duck confit enchiladas, and the ever-popular carnitas. All their dishes are seasonally inspired and they also offer a gluten free menu.

Click on photo for a larger image


Delicious ceviche consists of chilled citrus marinated swordfish and shrimp, with cucumber, avocado, cilantro and mango salsa, served with a crispy tortilla.

The restaurant layout is one of my favorites in Laguna, including a lovely off-center bar area, which is so nice to sit at and share an appetizer and sample a cocktail or two or three. The rest of the restaurant is laid out really well, with comfortable booths and large tables to accommodate its many customers. Even on a cold Wednesday evening in Laguna, this place was full by 6.30 p.m.

There are also large private dining tables situated in the back room, where I have personally spent time during events, and it is really great.

Our food journey at Tortilla Republic

We were greeted by the ever-charismatic Mike Murillo, restaurant manager, who showed us to our booth. Mike is such a great guy, funny, and a professional. I took my daughter on this tasting also, and straight away a fuss was made of her, offering her crayons and a kids’ menu – it is such a kid-friendly environment. 

We ordered drinks. Mum went for the Skinny Margarita with salt, which I know is delicious, Dad chose the Mexican IPA and Lula chose a Shirley Temple. I am having a January break so I stuck to water and occasionally sniffed my mum’s cocktail. Dad is an IPA fan, and thought the Mexican IPA he ordered was the best he’s had in the past six weeks (and believe me, he’s had a lot). 

We were presented with chips and salsa and while we browsed the menu, we also ordered a side of guacamole, my daughter’s favorite. The guacamole is so good here. 

Lula ordered from the kids’ menu. She chose the cheese quesadilla, a flour tortilla with Monterey cheese. She added shredded chicken and of course had extra guacamole.

The children’s menu is great, and the portions are generous. And Lula found a heart shaped chip!

Click on photo for a larger image


No surprise that the food at Tortilla Republic is great – but Lula did find a surprise in the form of a heart-shaped chip after ordering from the terrific kids’ menu

The adults at the table ordered the ceviche appetizer to share. This was delicious: chilled citrus marinated swordfish and shrimp, with cucumber, avocado, cilantro and mango salsa, served with a crispy tortilla. 

We then ordered two main dishes to share between the three of us.

From the enchilada menu, we ordered the suizas, which is an enchilada with pulled Mary free-range chicken, tomatillo sauce and melted Monterey Jack cheese, served with refried black beans and rice. This was really tasty. The homemade tomatillo sauce makes this dish, so that it is not too sweet, with a slight spicy kick.

We ordered the short rib chile verde from the principales menu, consisting of prime all natural short rib with spicy roasted tomatillo and jalepeńo roasted garlic potato purée. The meat literally fell apart, it was cooked beautifully. The whole dish was really tasty.

In addition I ordered a takeout of nachos de pollo for my son, who was sick at home. When I arrived home I checked the bag and they had also given me some chips and salsa, such a nice touch, and my son loved them.

Click on photo for a larger image


The Key Lime pie was outstanding: the pie looked great and tasted great

We then went for a dessert – I thought I’d treat myself as I’m not drinking cocktails for a while – and we ordered the Key Lime pie, which was outstanding, really creamy and delicious.

I was as always really impressed with Tortilla Republic. The interior is dark and sexy yet welcoming and warm. I love the kids’ options and Taco Tuesday, and happy hour is incredible value.

See you next week!

242 Café Fusion is a unique sushi “restaur-art”: enjoy beautifully plated, locally inspired & delicious dishes

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

I love sushi, but had never visited 242 Café Fusion Sushi for one reason: I could never get in… This busy 21-seat sushi restaurant has been in Laguna Beach since 2000 and offered, according to many of my local foodie friends, the most incredible sushi I would ever try, so I couldn’t wait to visit.  

I was told that speaking to owner Miki Izumisawa was also a challenge as she is much more interested in creating delicious food than talking about herself. Therefore I decided to do some background research on Miki and how 242 Café Fusion Sushi, which Miki affectionately calls her “restaur-art” – no doubt because of the creativity of the dishes and their imaginative plating – came to life. 

Born in Fukushama Japan, Miki was always intuitive. Her intuition encouraged her to head to the US on a backpacking trip and she never looked back. She realized she would need a visa sponsor and thus began her career path into the world of sushi. 

Miki started to work in a restaurant called Sambi in Downey, becoming a pioneer as one of the only female sushi chefs in the industry. While she was there, she received a call to make sushi for the Grammy awards. It was there she met Nobu Matsuhisa who asked her to work for him. 

Click on photo for a larger image


Teamwork: Lizzie helps chef/owner Miki Izumisawa serve unique sushi dishes

Honored to be asked by such a legend in the sushi industry, Miki jumped at the opportunity and headed to Las Vegas to work with Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel. 

Nobu was very kind to her, but her relationship with the other chefs was not good. Being the only female in an all male sushi kitchen took its toll, and Miki left after one year, feeling shattered and discouraged. 

She visited Laguna Beach In 2000 and immediately (as so many of us have) felt a connection with the energy in our beautiful town, deciding very quickly this would be where she would open her restaurant. She would create a non-traditional sushi place, transforming the elements of the natural world into its food.  

As an example, Miki’s famous Laguna Canyon roll recipe is based on the 1993 wildfire in Laguna. The narrative of the tragedy inspired Miki. Making the roll, she laid it in two rows, which reminded her of the canyon. She sensed a connection. 

Now when she makes the roll, she sprinkles it with fish eggs then uses her torch to sear the top. The fish eggs are set alight and make a sizzling sound representing the fire. After this, she sprinkles it with herbs to represent the rain falling. Then she adds greenery to the top, representing the rejuvenation of the plants. 

Click on photo for a larger image


A variety plate of Miki’s sushi: aesthetically pleasing and amazingly tasty

Miki is an artist in every sense of the word: her food, her photography and her restaurant are adorned with nature and beauty.

With more than a hundred different dishes on the menu, all looking amazing with such interesting names such as Moon and Sun Roll, Lava Flow, and Feather in the Sky, my guest for the evening didn’t know where to start – nor did I – so we decided to let Miki feed us whatever she thought we would like. She did not disappoint.

My food journey at 242 Café Fusion

We sat at the bar, and I am so glad we did, as we could see the commitment and dedication that Miki and her assistant Lizzie put into every dish. If it’s fast food sushi you want, this is not the place for you. Each sushi roll is handcrafted and it is an absolute pleasure watching these experts at their craft. 

We started with a variety of sushi. Before we ate these, I knew they were going to be good, just looking at the colorful selection of top grade sushi with a variety of flavors and sauces carefully chosen to accompany each one. 

On these two plates we had a wide variety of Fusion sushi dishes: salmon with passion fruit, served with a garlic and jalapeno sauce. Snapper with a beet sesame paste served with a light soy vinegar. Tuna with chrysanthemum, served with a Koji cheese and soy vinegar sauce. Crispy tuna roll with avocado purple cabbage and a subtle hint of coconut. Yellowtail with banana, served with serrano shiso. 

Each one of these was exquisite. The flavor in every bite was incredible, and you could literally taste the dedication and confidence of Miki’s recipes in every bite. 

Click on photo for a larger image


Toro foie gras: the complementary flavors made for a delicious dish

We were then served the toro foie gras which Janice, our lovely server, explained was a very popular dish with regulars: tiny pieces of toro, served with pan fried foie gras, along with a garlic soy horseradish. This was a beautiful dish. The toro and foie gras were cooked to perfection and the flavors complemented each other so well.

It was then time to try a roll and Miki presented us with a hot roll called “Thunderstorm.” This roll consisted of shrimp, salmon, eel, shishito pepper, cucumber, shiso, pickled radish and cucumber, sesame and shichimi pepper, topped with a soy vinegar meringue and yolk sauce. 

Click on photo for a larger image


Want a taste explosion? Try the Thunderstorm hot roll

The dish really was a thunderstorm, the tastes building in every bite and literally exploding in your mouth. It was unique, exciting and brave to have so many flavors on one plate, but as with everything we tried this evening, it totally worked.

I loved my experience at 242 Café Fusion Sushi. It is such a unique place and I love Miki’s creativity, enthusiasm and her connection to the earth that guides her to create so many wondrous delights. 

Miki is a pioneer for all women out there interested in the world of sushi: she defied all negativity and has really created something magical. 

This place is always busy for a reason because it is beyond good – but remember, soy sauce is not required.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising


Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc