Try the Un-Rolled Stuff @ “California Rolls”

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016 

under Food by Enjoy Team


When I got the mission to review former Sushi'O Chef's two-year-old Cali-Japanese restaurant on Wuding Road, I decided to forgo sashimi on rice. Here I am, happy to present my comprehensive, all-inclusive, irrefutable review of 5 Things to Eat at “California Rolls” That Are Not Sushi.

 

1. Cheese & chicken skewers


This is cheese melting on chicken with fat spread between for juice. Top that with cherry tomatoes, it's like your neighborhood pizza on a stick. And when the cheese cools, it shrinks. It becomes a colossal curd that squeaks like a startled piglet. i watched it stretch to a full 5cm before breaking into rubbery, yellow edible solids, and boy, was ittempting to use a knife. The enwrapped meat is fantastic, tongue-burningly hot and tender like a portobello mushroom — the tell-tale sign of industrial chicken, but also somewhat texturally satisfying. 

English name as seen on menu: Grilled cheese chicken roll (18rmb / 2 skewers)

 

2. Sushi vinegar & beef carpaccio


This doesn’t need parmesan or Balsamic. Just enough granular, lemon-flavored Japanese condiment to fully inundate 30 pieces of potato-chip-sized tenderloin. All around, there is a 0.5cm circle of flaky meat cooked grey. It gives way to a moist inside, where the meat drips blood and tears easy even if you aren’t good with chopsticks — a miraculous tenderness combining the best of raw and rare. And even if the meat breaks, you just gotta make sure to land shreds and flakes in the bowl of saline and acidic house dip — a mix of dark soya and sushi vinegar, ridding bloody after-taste, tangy by ginger and sweet by minced shallots. It is good-for-seconds beef of a decent marbling at 58 kuai.

Chef’s honorable attempt at translation: Carpaccio beef fillet (58rmb)

 

3. Mango & chicken


Mango and Chicken is exactly what the name promises: a toss of infallible summer favorites, served chilled with a flavor combo of tropics and Japanese. Warning: they do skim on both namesake ingredients — it’s a paltry count of 5 slices off cardboard-like breast at best, and 4 equally stingy servings of mango. But the chunky, house-made dressing is amazing — shallots and pickles, whisked up together with heavy cream. This is a hidden caloric bomb and a blessing. Plus grated radishes, carrots, sliced cucumbers and bell peppers, a slight kick of bitterness from red cabbage and endives, and a healthy mix of three different kinds of greens.

Conveniently named: Mango and chicken (38rmb)

 

4. Crispy skin & Teriyaki chicken


This is the crispy-skinned elevation of what is normally smothered in sticky, a bit overly sweet reduction — Teriyaki chicken cutlet. It will turn you into a purist — salted without pepper, sat in a bath of runny, South-Asian-inspired Teriyaki variation, much less sugary, coating the skinless underside only. THe Chef pan-sears the juicy thigh until cooked then flips it to fry the skin at massive heat, until it splits off from the meat in its own smoke and fat. A crunchy membrane of oil-oozing paradise. This isn’t a low-cal meal, clearly. But it’s so good you might start to understand the Japanese trend of grilled chicken skin as appetizer.

Named (in honor of Malaysian creator of sauce): South Asia grilled chicken (38rmb)

 

5. Mustard & tuna sashimi


Whoever invented this must have thought: if it goes well with potato wedges, it must go well with omega-3s. And s/he wasn’t wrong — the Dijon mustard has a punch of bitterness that brings out rosemary rub on the cooked exterior of tuna sashimi. And on the inside, the Oxford red of the raw fish glistens in hot July sunshine. It is a cheap trick that still works — tuna brisket is like beef; it is akami in Japanese, literally meaning “red meat.” As opposed to chu-toro (medium fat), or o-toro (big fat). It’s the porterhouse of fish. And by this logic, Dijon and tuna are but a sensible pairing.

Faultily named: Grilled vanilla (xiāngcăo 香草, same as the word for “herb” in Chinese) tuna (55rmb)

 

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Contact California Rolls at 6217 0177.

View California Rolls Information

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