Say “konnichiwa” to the hottest Japanese restaurant and bar on the LA scene. ROKU Sunset, which opened in November 2015, is a gorgeous 5,500 square-foot indoor-outdoor space, featuring elegant and eclectic design elements such as flamed white oak tables, floral upholsterd booths, a black and white marble floor, grand mahogany windows, manicured cypress trees and a custom mural depicting Japanese iconography by Hans Haveron. The restaurant, operated by Innovative Dining Group, features a Teppanyaki Room for interactive Hibachi dining, a classic sushi bar specializing in Omakase (chef’s choice), a patio space and bar/lounge.
While the culinary creations draw in a large crowd, ROKU Sunset’s beverage program is just as exciting. Carefully created by master mixologist Charity Kay Johnston, the three and half year veteran at IDG also oversees the ba menu of six other restaurants including Katana and Sushi ROKU.
“After working in Japanese restaurants for 10 years, ROKU Sunset was the first restaurant I did the entire bar menu of for,” says Johnston. “When I do a menu for a specific restaurant, I want to pair it to the food. The way I make a cocktails is almost like cooking and I like to use ingredients you would see in your food.”
A perfect example is Johnston’s Shōchū Tomato. Muddled with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil, the cocktail includes a touch of simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and the Japanese spirit shōchū which is made from barley, giving a wooden element to the drink. The cocktail is complete with a salt and pepper rim.
“Most people think it’s going to taste really tomatoey, but it’s actually very refreshing and light” she says. “I’m not a huge fan of Bloody Marys so this is my version. It’s a perfect lunch cocktail and I’m really proud of it. I love when a guest tries something new and keeps coming back for more.”
The Stranger In Paradise is another cocktail that often sur prises patrons. This Bulldog gin based drink is muddled with juicy strawberries with shiso and fresh lemon so it’s neither too sweet or too tart.
The Silent Smoke made with El Silencio mezcal, yuzu, agave, fresh grapefruit and black sea salt to cater to the current smoked cocktail trend. There is also the Old Osaka made with Hibiki Harmony Japanese whiskey, sugar and black walnut bitters that can be smoked.
ROKU Sunset’s most popular cocktail is its bright orange Pacific Scorpion, a house infusion which includes coconut, pineapple, passion fruit, watermelon, lychee and three types of vodka. It is served in a fishbowl with dry ice for a true smoke show worthy of adding to your Instagram story.
“I do a lot of classic inspired drinks with light clean flavors, but they should also look beautiful and obviously be very flavorful,” says Johnston. “When it comes to your tongue, I want a drink to hit as many places as possible. The tip of your tongue is the sweet, then you get the salt, the tart, the bitters. That way you get a full rounded cocktail.”
In addition to its signature cocktails, ROKU Sunset’s boasts the most extensive collections of Japanese whisky in all of Los Angeles and a long list of wines and Japanese beers.
ROKU Sunset details
9201 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, 310-278-2060, Innovativedining.com, @rokusunset
Lunch – Monday – Friday: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Dinner – Sunday: 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 5:30 p.m. 12 a.m.
Happy Hour – Monday – Friday 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
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