But, there’s not much to style if there’s no substance behind it, and In the Raw has plenty of that to back it up. The Bricktown eatery has sister locations in Tulsa and Norman, all of which got new owners in January, but this locale might be the most special, in more ways than one.
Placed right on the rim of the canal in Lower Bricktown, the patio overlooks the water. Inside the glass front façade is an open-concept restaurant with bold art, broad splashes of color and a huge sushi bar that becomes the center of attention due to the chefs’ knife cuts and equally sharp wit and banter. General Manager Tony Lachance believes the atmosphere creates something more than your standard dining experience.
“It’s fun, filled with art and a big open restaurant, so it keeps people talkative with each other,” he said.
“You can see the whole place, and when you come at night, it’s almost a party-like atmosphere.”
The center of the party is most certainly the sushi, however, and it’s here that the OKC spot really sets itself apart from not only its fellow franchises, but also other metro sushi offerings. Here, there is a specialty sushi roll menu — courtesy of chef Ashley Nguyen.
“She’s the one that makes the biggest difference,” Lachance said.
Among the specialty rolls are popular choices like the Thunder roll ($15.95), done with a golden trio of salmon, tuna and yellowtail, along with masago, tempura shrimp, crab salad and eel sauce (among other ingredients), and the Mountain roll ($14.95) that is built with a healthy helping of crab and tempura shrimp, spicy garlic mayo, scallions and bright, raw jalapeño.
The Rock Star roll ($14.95) is another standout. It’s a delicious mess of umpteen ingredients including crab, tuna, salmon, spicy mayo and bacon that would seemingly muck up an otherwise tasty piece of fish, but instead just build and build into a memorable and instantly addicting mouthful of food. The masago especially — which is essentially caviars’ fun, rave-orange colored cousin — brings a nice, fishy punch firing below the surface.
There are plenty of other rolls that you will find on the regular menu, like the Some Like It Hot ($8.25), a spicy concoction of tuna, a kicking habanero sauce and an extra dollop of wasabi.
also the Oh My Goodness ($8.50), a sea-wide gathering of fried
soft-shell crab, yellowtail and salmon with a creamy avocado.
what Lachance calls the “freshest fish in the area,” the sashimi menu —
with options like halibut ($6.50), octopus ($4.50) and sea urchin ($8) —
is a point of pride.
really pride ourselves on the fish. We get it overnight, flown two to
three times a week from Hawaii,” he said. “Most people appreciate that
our fish is the freshest when we put (it) on a roll. When they come in,
it’s something they notice right off the bat.”
certainly high quality — and with a strikingly simple and lovely
presentation — the sashimi (and even the standard rolls) pale in
comparison to Nguyen’s specialty rolls, and they are truly the best
example of what the restaurant has to offer.
those still wary of giving sushi the old college try, there’s a stellar
selection of other Asian and American fare to enjoy. There’s the simple
but still scrumptious edamame ($5.50) and the tasty pork gyoza
dumplings ($5.50) for starters, plus high-end dinner entrées like the
macadamia nut halibut ($25.50), a hearty pepper filet ($28) served with
an earthy portobello demi-glace and a fun and tangy wasabi mashed
potato. There’s also fried rice, wraps and tacos to be had.
really start the party, In the Raw offers a full assortment of sake ($6
to $45) — the sushi bar staff is known to join in on sake bombs — as
well as plenty of beer offerings. And to cap off the meal, there’s a
sensuous dessert collection, including the sweet and sizzling tempura
fried bananas ($6.50).
All in all, it’s a special, sophisticated experience that In the Raw offers, and the style takes a backseat to the sushi.
Photo by Shannon Cornman
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