Sushi chef David Loo
“When I was with them, I really wanted to do a sushi roll that had mangos in it (as a nod to his Malaysian heritage), so Karen and I started talking about what should be in it,” Loo says. “So I created the roll with shrimp tempura, mango, and tobiko or flying fish roe, but Karen created the special fruity sauce that really is the secret to this roll.”
Carefully unwrapping a whole tuna loin he prepped earlier in the day, Loo takes his knife using it as an extension of his arm and carefully trims the loin using long calculated cuts to form a perfect rectangular piece of ruby red tuna. From there, he runs his steel in slow sweeping motions from the base of the knife to the tip, wiping his blade between cuts, to shape the fish into domino-like tiles ready to eat. He lines the tiles of fish up like ceremonial soldiers using the tip of his knife to move them next to one another as he checks with his critical eye to see if his pieces are uniformly the same. He makes it look deceivingly simple, but in fact he is employing ancient traditional Japanese techniques.
The menu at Kaiyo is surprisingly diverse with traditional Japanese dumplings, noodles and entrees along with a creative selection of specialty rolls. Rolls to try are the Daikon Maki featuring fresh tuna, salmon, yellowtail, crab, cucumber, scallion and massago or smelt roe rolled in paper-thin slices of pickled daikon radish giving it a crisp crunch. Try the Cherry Blossom, which lives up to its name and comes out looking like a Spring on a plate, featuring fresh tuna and salmon with avocado. The Four Seasons roll is a visual stunner where Loo uses different colors of tobiko or flying fish roe to dress up a spicy tuna roll in celebration of each of the four seasons. Finally Uni, or sea urchin, is a specialty at Kaiyo. Loo sources his uni from the West Coast where most of their sea urchin is shipped off to Japan and fetches top dollar.