The group behind Lionfish at the Pendry and Serea at the Hotel del Coronado, which debuted Joya Kitchen earlier this year, is bringing a new Japanese restaurant to Encinitas where Clique Hospitality’s Temaki Bar: Handroll, Sushi, Sake is scheduled to splash open on Tuesday, November 1. Another outpost is coming to the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas this December.
Most of the 45 seats inside the 2,500-square-foot space on South Coast Highway will flank the central sushi bar, where its chefs will assemble each temaki, or sushi hand roll, to order. Typically offered as cylindrical or cone-shaped handheld bites, it’s essential that temaki be served and eaten immediately while its seaweed wrapper is still crisp, the rice is still warm, and the fish is still chilled and fresh.
JoJo Ruiz, the group’s executive chef who’s running the kitchen along with executive sushi chef Sebastian Sevilla, who heads up Lionfish’s sushi program, says they’re taking steps to ensure that the hand rolls will be served at their peak, using special warming boxes to toast the sheets of nori and a modern rice tumbler to mix and fluff the short grain Koshihikari rice.
Now known for his work in sustainable seafood as a James Beard Smart Catch Leader, Ruiz’s first job at 16 years old was at a Bonita-area Japanese restaurant where he was introduced to the art of sushi. He would go on to teach a sushi class while attending the San Diego Culinary Institute, further honing his skills at restaurants like Tower23 and Oceanaire.
Though temaki, available a la carte or in sets of three, four, or five hand rolls, will be the restaurant’s focus, the menu will also feature a variety of sashimi, nigiri, cut rolls, and starters like beef tataki and tuna poke bowls.
Open at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Temaki Bar will offer a selection of premium sake, along with wine on tap and sake bombs featuring local craft beer.