Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arigato --Santa Barbara

I am no stranger to good sushi.  LA is home to a plethora of Japanese hot spots.  We've got the trendy Phillip Stark designed Katsuya sprinkled all over the city.  We've also got the celebrity ridden strip mall Japanese ala' Hamasaku. Venice locals flock to Chaya and Wabi Sabi, me being one of them.   All of these sushi restaurants are very good and unique in their own rights but none of them are Arigato.  Perhaps it's the combination of the amazingly fresh and unique dishes mixed together with the fact that I am in Santa Barbara, away from the madness of big city dwelling.  Arigato is doing something very unique. Their first location was situated in a teeny plaza on lower State. In recent years they upgraded to a much larger spot right on State Street.  It's an enviable piece of real estate and to most restaurants a scary rental proposition. What do they say, eighty percent of restaurants fail?  But not Arigato.  Each time I go I'm reminded by the two hour wait that Arigato will always be a Santa Barbara mainstay.

The dish I find myself thinking about every time I check in with the host is Miss Ebilyn's gyoza.  They are steamed postickers with shrimp, halibut, ailoli and ponzu.  I could eat only this and be satisfied.   I restrain at all costs to not fill up on the glorious dumplings or I will miss out on the fresh fish plates.  Their tuna carpaccio is fabulous.  The tuna melts in your mouth, never too tough.  Theirs is a fusion of EVOO and Arigto brand vinaigrette.  Also of note is the yellowtail and jalapeno carpaccio.  As far as rolls go, and I am not a big roll enthusiast, the Fiesta roll is other worldly: tempura halibut, avocado, tomato, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno and habanero sauce.  It is a brilliant medley of Spanish flavors.  Really, you can't go wrong with a single dish at Arigato.  And it's a great reason to get yourself up to SB!

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