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RestaurantsSanta Cruz
October 25-November 1, 2006

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Rumble Fish

Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Something's fishy: Rumble Fish in Scotts Valley provides Asian cuisine impressive in taste and presentation.

Rumble in the Valley

Rumble Fish offers creative options for sushi lovers

By Selene Latigo

No cable means a lot of movie nights for us, and instead of going with Netflix, we like to support our small-scale local video store. When it happens to be Dave's turn to pick our "five for five" from Westside Video, he often comes home with an obsolete mélange of movies, from various eras and genres, some of which I have never heard of. The latest collection included Rumble Fish, a gritty, early-'80s Coppola film shot in black and white. Of course, Dave was oblivious to the recent opening of the thus-titled sushi restaurant, and although the movie has no relation whatsoever to any type of Asian cuisine, it did inspire a visit to this newcomer in Scotts Valley.

The potentially cavelike space is effectively brightened by lots of warm lighting, a gracefully curved open sushi bar and pastel hues reminiscent of Easter M&Ms, all of which ease the potential squished feeling often cased by a low ceiling. The waitstaff seated us under a flat-screen TV, the latest ESPN updates silently showing above us, and a view of a wall mural on the opposite side of the room.

A bowl of free edamame immediately appeared, with just a couple of pieces imparting an unfortunate musty flavor, and water glasses each holding a bright slice of cucumber, enhancing the water with a fresh green burst. We also ordered the nigori unfiltered sake ($5.50), which our server decanted for us tableside into a small wooden box, the generous overflow captured in the ceramic dish underneath. This cloudy chilled sake is full of melon undertones and sometimes reminds me of horchata with its creamy sweetness.

It took us awhile to decide what to order from the, not one, but two, fully comprehensive menus featuring slick color photos and descriptive titles. As our server kept checking back with us we succumbed to our intense hunger and blurted out everything that caught our eye.

Our selections began with a spicy tuna handroll ($4.95), a cone of toasty crisp nori overstuffed with neon red spicy tuna and a bit of rice, pure and simple. This version contained no mayonnaise, an oftentimes thick and heavy addition to the classic spicy tuna feature. The lack of mayo allowed the full power of the fish's spice to reveal itself.

Another automatic choice was the hamachi nigiri ($4.50), a usual item for us to test for general freshness and quality. This yellowtail was not the most supple or buttery that we've come across locally, but definitely not the worst either.

From the long list of imaginative, less traditional rolls we chose the stunning Cherry Blossom ($10.95). The high price indicates the massive amount of rich tuna encasing this large salmon-and-avocado-filled roll. The eight rounds were splayed out in a flower shape with avocado placed to resemble leaves.

For vegetarians who might get bored with somewhat slim and generic offerings, Rumble Fish has several rolls that hold far more creativity than a simple kappa roll. Our futomaki ($5.95) was at least 3 inches in diameter with bits of egg, pickled radish, sweet chewy strands of gourd and a chunk of black mushroom instead of the spinach mentioned in the menu description. With so many other rich rolls, I kept revisiting this one for some fresh, exciting and less common flavors.

Finally, our indulgent spider roll ($6.95) won the evening, featuring excellent quality strips of sweet soft shelled crab, sturdily deep-fried and wrapped up with velvety avocado and thin spears of cool cucumber, thickly dusted with roe.

Rumble Fish is already an obvious destination for the crowd who busily streamed in and out on this weeknight, and judging by the jovial interchanges at the counter and hugs goodbye, there already seem to be regulars.

Rumble Fish

Address: 4727 Scotts Valley Rd, Scotts Valley

Phone: 831.440.9240

Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm Mon-Sat

Price Range: $3-$19.

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