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In the Pink

[whitespace] Pink Godzilla
George Sakkestad

My Life in Pink: Pink Godzilla's sushi chef Mitsu Marmura masters the art of creating colorful and flavorful sushi.

It's always been a rock & roll sushi ecosystem at 41st Avenue's Pink Godzilla--and the colorfully mind-altering tradition continues

By Christina Waters

FOUR SUSHI CHEFS were exploring jewel-toned slabs of maguro with surgical precision as we pounded our chopsticks on the day-glo table. We were trying to make a point about our favorite vintage film to our young dining companion, Noah, who just kept murmuring "bitchin' " as he sank his teeth into a fist-sized nugget of fish and rice. The Bitchin' Roll definitely lives up to its name, we all agreed, as the most hallucinatory cut in the entire Beatles oeuvre wafted through the pulsating room.

Wild Strawberries, we said. "Who's in it?" Noah replied, dredging a cylinder of unagi-topped sorcery through a small lake of wasabi and soy sauce. We couldn't believe it. Ingmar Bergman's haunting exploration of memory and regret and Noah asks, "Who's in it?"

We munched our hot, salted soy beans in silence and considered the generation gap.

The place was packed with attractive folks of all ages, sizes and shapes that night. Just like always. And the selection of over-the-top, eccentric and truly creative sushi stylings was huge. Just like always.

The edamame--soy beans to English speakers--were as addictive as healthy popcorn ($3.95). Before receiving a stoneware platter of beautifully crafted sushi, we had also inhaled one of the house seaweed salads ($4), a truly satisfying encounter with transparent strands of the sea, dusted with sesame seeds and glistening green like a primal dawn. An order of gyoza ($3.95) proved lackluster. The soy and sesame oil sauce was excellent, but the tender stuffed noodles themselves were neither flavorful nor crisp.

Leaving the raw stuff for last, we sampled a textbook version of that once wild and crazy California Roll ($3), which stood the test of time to become an out-and-out classic. Noah liked the way the faux crab and avocado worked texturally with the crisp cucumber. Jack loved the beautiful tobiko garnish.

The Rock 'n' Roll ($4.25) was more my speed, packed with maguro and salmon, as well as avocado, cucumber and tobiko. My idea of sushi is to surround some plush, sensuous bit of sashimi--ideally maguro--with crisp veggies and sticky rice. The Pink Godzilla team obliges with just enough style and not a lot of fussy eye candy.

Service was excellent throughout our meal. Jack's nonalcoholic O'Doul's--"cold water that refers to beer"--arrived nicely chilled. My hot sake was bracingly hot. And we managed to talk Noah out of a Coke and into some green tea. He contemplated the fragrant, earthy brew as he confessed that he'd been so influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark that he even dressed like Indiana Jones. We knew it would take more than just Pink Godzilla's inexpensive, well-made sushi to set him straight. But hey, he's young. There's time.

"The Rock 'n' is definitely upstaged by the Bitchin'," Noah observed, as we all feasted on the finest sushi of the evening. The Bitchin'--not only fun to say--is a charismatic bundling of shiitake, avocado, cucumber and that delicious fake crab, topped with a slab of warm barbecue unagi ($7.50). It was great, combining cool and warm, sweet and salty in every bite.

As the conversation veered toward Noah's deconstruction of Dumb and Dumber, I quickly ordered the blackboard special Santa Mo's roll ($3.50), a fun combo of crispy cornichon pickles and grilled salmon skin. Responding to Noah's comparison of the California Roll to a Vermeer, I also ordered my personal favorite--a perfect maguro nigiri sushi ($3.25). I offered Noah a bite. A look of revelation came over his face, exactly like the look that Ingrid Thulin's character in Wild Strawberries gets when she says goodbye to Evald.

Green tea ice cream--thick, creamy and sweet--finished off the meal ($1.50).

Pink Godzilla. Not just a silly name. It's the home of bitchin' sushi and quality film chat.


Pink Godzilla
Address: 830 41st Ave., Santa Cruz
Phone: 464-2586
Hours: Tue-Thu 11:30am-10pm (Fri. till 10:30pm); Sat 1-10:30pm; Sun 1-9:30pm. Closed Mon.
Service: *** Brisk sushi creation and friendly, swift table service
Ambiance: ** 1/2 Intriguing musical programming breaks up the visual noise of riotous table coverings
Cuisine: ** 1/2 Highly competent sushi creation, with high marks for imagination
Overall: Pink Godzilla--only in Santa Cruz--where wild and crazy sushi is a tradition.

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From the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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