You may have noticed the “Under New Management” banner at Sushi Marina on California in Downtown Ventura. Although if you haven’t it’s hard to blame you, because there is so much going on with the Ventura restaurant scene right now.
The old Sushi Marina has always been a weeknight standby for me. I liked that you were always welcomed with a smiling face, and you could rely on seeing a new dish written on the slips of paper and taped to the walls. I spent many nights slipping into a table and looking forward to some black pepper jalapeno tuna, Cajun salmon and tuna on fire.
Sadly, those items are gone. The free miso soup is gone too… it will cost you about $3 now. But thankfully the new owners seem just as friendly and they’ve maintained the welcoming atmosphere. I would suggest they lose the radio though, or at least upgrade to a commercial-free service like Pandora. It kind of kills the mood when the music stops and a car dealership ad comes on and starts yelling at everyone to buy a Corolla. The menu has entirely changed, although the usual sushi standards are there. Also the prices have gone up by about 20%, which is not insignificant.
On to our dinner. We started out with the shrimp shumai (above), which very well may have been the best I’ve had. The dumplings are delicate with a soup-like consistency inside. Very nice. The salmon sushi was buttery, and I liked the touch of lemon. I think overall the quality of the fish was a little better than it used to be at the old Marina, which makes the price increase a little easier to take.
Next we had the Eggplant Crisp (right), which was basically eggplant tempura with some minced tuna and an avocado slice on top. Nice presentation, but the tempura seemed heavy and a little greasy. It was also very hard to eat without making a complete mess.
The highlight of the evening was the Peppered Tuna with Salsa sashimi (below). The tuna is coated in black pepper, lightly seared and served with fresh salsa. The black pepper is brilliant… it dances on your tongue as the tuna melts away. The salsa has jalapeno and avocado which adds a nice texture, although I preferred to eat the salsa separately between pieces of fish. Definitely a new favorite!
Out with the old, in with the new. And with that there is always some give and take. I miss the old standards but I like the other changes. I’ll be back and hopefully I’ll find a few more dishes I like as much as that black pepper tuna.