Giralda Avenue in downtown Coral Gables is known locally as Restaurant Row for the above average number of far above average restaurants that live there. Many of my favorite places are on Giralda, but Ikura Sushi Lounge was one that I had been meaning to try for ages but never got around to, so when I finally got the opportunity I jumped on it. It did not disappoint! Despite being on one of the busiest streets in the Gables, parking was relatively easy (there’s a parking lot right at the end of the block) making arriving at the restaurant stress free. We were seated immediately and allowed to pick our table, with the option of one table where you can sit cross-legged on cushions on the floor of the storefront window – which we passed on, but may go back for.
Right off the bat, the service was excellent. Our waitress was attentive and the food came out quickly, but what really stood out was the food itself.
Salty and sweet with a bit of crunch mixed into the noodles and a bit of nuttiness from the sesame seeds makes this dish perfectly balanced in texture and taste, and immediately a hit for me. If you’re visiting Ikura for the first time (or fiftieth time) you must order this – it was easily my favorite thing that we ate there.
Named for the street that the restaurant is on, the Giralda Roll features raw tuna, raw salmon, avocado, cream cheese, scallions, tobiko, crispy flakes, soy paper, and ikura sauce. Overall very classic ingredients, but the soy paper and scallions made it interesting and different. I actually loved these changes, with the scallions giving a bit of a fresh crunch and the soy paper replaces nori for a subtler flavor while keeping the roll pressed tight together. My only critique was that the cream cheese was overpowering at times – the other ingredients were delicious enough that the cream cheese could have been left out all together.
Jalapeño Yaita Roll
This roll immediately appealed to me when I realized that it was baked, something I had never seen or even heard of before. That, plus the fact that I’ve been going through a major jalapeño phase, made me really excited to try the Jalapeño Yaita. I felt that the cream cheese once again overpowered the majority of the other ingredients, particularly the Ikura shrimp and scallions. That being said, each bite was warm, spicy, and very cheesy, reminding me of a sushi style spin on a jalapeño popper – and how could you go wrong with that? The peppers were fresh and flavorful and the baked Parmesan on the top added a bit of a crisp, basically guaranteeing that I would enjoy this roll.
Every other time that I’ve had Thai donuts, they’ve been made as donut holes, and I loved that these were different. They had more of a cooked surface area, which meant more crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside goodness. Plus, the powdered sugared glaze reminded me of a cruller donut, my all-time favorite kind of donut. And how can you have Thai donuts without condensed milk to dip in? These were delicious and fresh, sweet but not too sweet, and perfectly cooked.
Visit Ikura Sushi at 143 Giralda Avenue in Coral Gables, and check out their menu at www.ikurasushilounge.com