I’ve been a big fan of for years, so when I heard that they were revamping their menu I jumped at the chance to check it out. After trying many of the new dishes and cocktails at the restaurant’s Glenview location, I can attest that in this case change is very, very good.
The spot at 2601 Aviator Lane has a hip but relaxed décor. Hanging red spheres cast a mellow glow over the space while bamboo accents lend an earthy appeal. The restaurant was fairly busy when I went for dinner around 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, mostly occupied by younger diners dressed on the nicer side of casual. Ra Sushi is well equipped to deal with large groups, and there was a birthday dinner going on at a particularly long table.
The cocktail menu has gotten an overhaul and we tried three of the new drinks. The Red Lotus martini ($9), a blend of Absolut Ruby Red, X-Rated Liqueur and pink grapefruit juice, had a refreshing citrusy taste. The Bacardi Dragonberry-based Dragon Bite ($8) had a sweet flavor from the strawberry puree that was nicely cut by lemon juice. But our dominant favorite was the Emperor’s Cucumberita ($8). Despite the name, the abundance of fresh lime and the incredible smoothness added by the cucumber slices made it more reminiscent of a tequila mojito than a margarita.
On the appetizer menu we sampled the shishito peppers ($7), which are pan fried in soy sauce and served with lemon wedge. The peppers have a bit of kick but are far from too hot and fill a niche similar to edamame, but with way more flavor.
My boyfriend would never order a salad on his own, but the otoko salad ($10 with chicken, $12 with beef) may have been his favorite part of the meal. Reminiscent of an Asian take on fajita salad, the dish featured grilled meat, bell peppers, onions and asparagus served over mixed greens tossed in a rice wine vinegar dressing and topped with crispy noodles. The entire dish was perfectly spiced, seasoned and cooked. The generous strips of steak were medium rare and the vegetables were tender, but still a little crisp.
Overall, we were very pleased with the new sushi offerings. The Viva Las Vegas Roll ($13.25) is Ra Sushi’s most popular item and their “Ra”ckin’ Roll ($13) uses the same base of a tempura-battered roll of imitation crab meat and cream cheese, and tops it with guacamole and a breaded shrimp, which turns out to be even better than the original. The vegetable tempura roll was surprisingly good ($7.50) with the tender sweet potato and Japanese eggplant contrasting with the crispy asparagus, and given sweetness by the eel sauce on top. Mango and excellent avocado made the tropical roll ($8.50) a sweet treat, especially paired with the shrimp and mango ceviche served on the side. The only disappointment was the pacific roll ($9.50) where the taste of the sushi was entirely overwhelmed by the salsa on top of it.
Ra Sushi’s new entrée, lobster with garlic sugar snap peas ($17.50), was also excellent. The tender seafood is sautéed with garlic and served with shitake mushrooms. The whole thing is mixed with the same spicy seasoning used on the shishito peppers, which made the white rice it’s served with particularly welcome for cooling our mouths.
For dessert we tried the new sweet mochi trio ($7.50), a sampler of mango, strawberry and vanilla ice cream wrapped in sweet rice in traditional Japanese fashion. The result is a really pleasing mix of textures and flavors that was the perfect end to a truly excellent meal. Ra Sushi’s always been great, but the new items elevate the menu to another level.