Is sushi the perfect pre-party meal? The protein-packed bites won’t fill you up before a big night on the town. Plus, rolls are easy to share with friends in between sake bombs.
Two new social sushi restaurants have popped up downtown this summer, with a third on the way. It’s a new wave of party sushi, with as much priority on the atmosphere and cocktails as the food.
Deep house music meets Asian street market-style cuisine at Bang Bang, the buzzy new project from Johnny Shockey and Mauricio Couturier. A sushi bar floats above koi fish floors, and the dining room hides beneath a canopy of paper lanterns. A five-foot disco ball sets the tone in the theater, but it’s the Ryan Gosling-themed bathroom that keeps ladies coming back for more.
The bar serves four flaming punch bowls large enough to share for $42. The Karate Punch bowl mixes rye bourbon with ginger, grapefruit, honey and champagne. We’re also sipping on sake cocktails, like Dragon’s Milk with spiced rum, Nigori sake, cinnamon, vanilla and walnut bitters ($12).
House heads are checking in after dinner to party under the disco ball. Next up: Mystery Skulls on Aug. 30 and Lee Burridge on Sept. 7.
Bang Bang: 526 Market St., second floor, (619) 677-2264 - bangbangsd.com
TV chef Kevin Roberts was bored with pretentious sushi restaurants. You’re allowed to have one too many sake bombs at his new sushi joint, Kamikaze 7. He’s serious about fun, and he has a chandelier made of samurai swords to prove it. It’s a casual setting that welcomes the rowdy at night. TVs air sports games behind the bar, and a DJ spins on the weekends.
Roberts brought in Tony Coxum to create the bar program, which highlights sake, Japanese whiskey and upgraded bombers. Are you up for a Uni Bomber? Cold sake with a quail egg, topped with uni and served with a Sapporo for $10. Coxum recommends the Ginga Ninja, made with gin, ginger syrup, mint, yuzu and sparkling sake ($12).
Full sushi and bar menus are served until midnight, seven nights a week. Can you find where the Frank Kozik smoking bunnies are hiding?
Kamikaze 7: 411 Market St., (619) 696-6262 - kamikaze7.com
Coming Soon: Tokyo Playground
The Tilted Kilt of sushi restaurants is coming to San Diego. We’ve learned a few things about Tokyo Playground from its flagship location in San Francisco’s East Bay. Expect waitresses dressed in school girl outfits and rolls named after pop culture greats, from George Clooney to Charlie Sheen. It’s taking over the venue formerly occupied by George’s on 5th. ETA: Fall 2013.
835 Fifth Ave., tokyo-playground.com
+ Hot Happenings at San Diego Sushi Spots
Katsuya added four San Diego-inspired cocktails to the menu. Try the Lavender Sun with Plymouth gin, blackberries, lavender infused syrup and lemon juice, served in a martini glass ($11). (pictured left)
600 F St., Andaz Hotel (619) 814-2000 - sbe.com/katsuya
Downtown’s original party sushi destination, RA now offers flavored sake and bomb shots on the menu. Create a custom sake bomb with mango or raspberry sake ($4).
474 Broadway, (619) 321-0021 - rasushi.som
And who can forget about Harney? They're mixing up new soju spirits in Old Town. Spice up your night with the Jal-up-eno Biz, made with jalapeno-infused soju, fresh mango juice, lemon and lime ($7).
3964 Harney St., (619) 295-3272 - harneysushi.com
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Pictured: Bang Bang dining room photo by James Norton