Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar has long been a La Jolla staple on the prominent corner of Prospect and Fay and recently the Ladeki Restaurant Group had some news to announce. Roppongi recently brought on some new culinary talent, Chef Michael McDonald. Chef Michael is no stranger to the San Diego culinary community where he was Executive Chef of another San Diego fixture, Top of the Market, for 3 years.
Chef Michael spent his younger years in the L.A. area trekking through farmer’s markets and absorbing the culture of regionally-grown food, so it is no surprise that this veteran of 20+ years in great kitchens across the U.S. still has an extreme passion for his art. Just three weeks after his arrival to Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar, we sat down for a meal and a chat.
He is dedicated to continuing to fill his kitchen with the very best ingredients available. At this early stage, Chef Michael has not yet changed the menu but he assured us that we could expect his innovative creativity to be infused into the (large) Roppongi menu soon.
Things to remember…
1) Keep the outdoor fire pit on the patio top of mind for warm summer nights because this certainly becomes the local place to be seen and the happy hour (3pm – 6pm) should be kept on your go-to short list. 2) They have a nice selection of gluten-free and vegetarian items to choose from. 3) Think about attending one of Roppongi’s Saturday Sushi School events! It’s a lesson, sake and lunch the first Saturday of every month. Be forewarned, though. It sells out quickly.
The Pan Seared Diver Scallops were stacked atop a crunchy potato pancake with Thai basil sundried tomatoes and a mmmmm good chive hollandaise sauce that had the perfect balance of richness, nothing that over-powered the flavors.
THIS is precisely what makes a dining experience enjoyable… the unexpected. I have not come across quinoa being used too creatively but this morsel was integrated with a delicate coconut curry mixed with the sweet flavors of apples, raisins and a mango chutney with an added crunch of celery. OMG! Bliss.
A beautiful plate of the crispy potstickers of tiger shrimp and sea scallops were packed with a refreshing mint and ginger on a puddle of rich sauce dotted with vibrant orange Tobiko Caviar. For an entree, try the Alaskan Halibut which sang of the flavors of spring from the assortment of Heirloom Tomatoes and greens.
A meal at Roppongi is not complete without an order of its signature dish, the Signature Crab Stack. Made to share, this dish has never left the menu for a very good reason. If it isn’t broke…
If you have not been to Roppongi lately, it can be a brand new adventure for you. With the recent loss of a few great chefs over the last couple years, it is with joy and relief that we applaud the return of Chef Michael McDonald.
Welcome home, Chef.