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Sushi Central

[whitespace] Eunhee Park
George Sakkestad

Sea Change: Co-owner Eunhee Park previews the wares available at Shogun, one of two brand-new sushi spots on the Pacific Garden Mall.

Two brand-new eateries make Japanese food the catch of the day on the Mall

By Janet Blaser

THE SEA GODS Zeus and Neptune must have decided there was a certain something missing from a certain stretch of downtown Santa Cruz, for how else to explain not one but two sushi places opening within a week of each other--a literal dozen steps apart?
But no matter, this sudden turn of events makes for a happy sushi-and-sashimi crowd and an even happier lunch bunch down on Pacific Avenue. Were I a city planner, I'd be actively pursuing classy, chef-run bistros to fill some of those street-level spaces--but hey, that's another story.

All spring, the storefront formerly known as the Double Rainbow Ice Cream Parlor was under major construction. Careful window-peeking (and new signage) eventually indicated it was turning into Shogun sushi bar and restaurant, and on July 26 the doors opened for a first night of business.

Owners Sungho and Eunhee (a.k.a. Kim) Park sold their successful Capitola restaurant, Miyako, about a year ago, with the idea of relocating in downtown Santa Cruz. With Shogun, they've created a sushi oasis complete with an authentic menu, reasonable prices and a gorgeous contemporary decor. Diners can sit at the 16-seat sushi bar to watch Sungho and his chefs work their magic on ingredients that are the freshest of the fresh, served in generous and elegant portions. (A word of caution, though: Watch out for a hidden dab of wasabi in the nigiri; it can be quite a surprise.) The restaurant easily seats another 60, at tables hand-inscribed by Sungho's father, Imura, with the Japanese characters for Shogun sushi house.

Shogun

Actually, Kim told me it was Imura who foresaw success in the kitchen for the couple. Astrologically speaking, Sungho was well-suited to cooking, and she had a natural business acumen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Shogun is tucked between new socks and old books at 1123 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Hours are Monday through Friday noon to 2:30pm; Monday through Wednesday 5-9pm, Thursday and Friday 5-10pm, and Saturday shoppers' hours from 3 to 10pm. Shogun is closed on Sunday. For more information or to make reservations, call 469-4477.

Saunter catty-corner across the street and you'll find Sushi Now! in the kiosk outside New Leaf Community Market. Here the menu offers a handful of selected seafood and vegetarian rolls at $3 an order, all composed and assembled by the quick and expert hands of chef/owner Matisse Selman, a local boy come back from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to follow his dreams.

Matisse is no stranger to the restaurant scene in Santa Cruz; he's paid his dues at India Joze, Shadowbrook and both the old and new Cafe Bittersweet. Before he left for school, Matisse also worked as a sushi chef at Miyako in Capitola--now coincidentally his neighbor at Shogun.

The very manageable menu also offers an excellent miso soup, traditional edamame and seaweed salad. All are served in convenient takeout containers, and for those who don't have to run back to the office, a handful of tables on the sidewalk offer places to sit and watch the world go by.

Sushi Now! is in the kiosk at the corner of Pacific and Soquel avenues in downtown Santa Cruz and is open every day from 11:30am to 6pm. Check out the menu and everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-Matisse at www.chefmatisse.com. And to make it even easier for those of us with half-hour lunchtimes, you can pick up a to-go menu and call 429-1169 to order ahead.

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From the August 18-25, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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