Restaurant News & Reviews

Downtown SLO's newest sushi joint offers an upscale fusion menu

Sky Rah, sushi chef at Arigato Sushi, a new sushi restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo at 667 Marsh St.
Sky Rah, sushi chef at Arigato Sushi, a new sushi restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo at 667 Marsh St.

Goshi's temporary closure got you down? There's a new high-end sushi restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Arigato Sushi opened its doors May 1, but it's planning a grand opening Wednesday. Owner Sang Park, a sushi chef since 1995, said his focus is on providing customers the very best: the best chef, best ingredients, best presentation.

"That's what would make us different from the other (sushi) restaurants here," manager Aaron Reantazo said.

Sang said he's "trying to show the customers and this city really upscale sushi."

When it came to finding a head sushi chef, Sang said he had one thing in mind.

"I was looking for a really high-end chef," he said.

He found that in Sky Rah, who for eight years worked at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Rah said he learned of Sang's job opening through a network of friends.

Rah isn't your garden-variety sushi chef. He said he considers his style "more than sushi. More fusion."

The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef's influences include French and Italian sources, and his fusion style can be seen in Arigato's menu, which offers such fare as grilled lamb rack with yuzu couscous, uni pasta or filet mignon with shitake mushrooms.

"Some customers are shocked. Like, 'How is this possible?'" Rah said of reactions to his signature dishes.

As for best ingredients, as Sang put it, "No. 1, it's just good fish."

Sang and Rah say they use only fresh fish, brought in from across the world, including Japan, Hawaii and Spain. Spanish tuna, "the most expensive tuna in the world," is used in the best sushi restaurants in the world, Rah said.

"You can taste it; it's like the ocean, you know?" he said. "A lot of sushi restaurants, they don't care about fresh fish."

When it comes to presentation, Sang called that a signature part of the Arigato experience, from Rah's plating of the dishes to the atmosphere of the restaurant itself.

Sang said he chose the restaurant's location — 667 Marsh St., which once housed Sumo Sushi — because of the visibility and quality of parking, but he said it was crucial to upgrade the decor.

"It took six months," he said, to remodel and decorate the restaurant's interior.

Sang declined to discuss his projected profit margins or how much was spent on the remodel.

Arigato Sushi is open seven days a week; from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Entrees range from $18 to $80.

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Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler