Panama City Beach’s new Ryogoku Sushi bar overlooks the Gulf

PANAMA CITY BEACH – International Sushi Day is today, but after a visit to Ryogoku Sushi, you’ll be looking for an excuse to celebrate.

“If you face three quarters of the bar, you will see the sunset and the sky turn bright orange. It’s amazing,” said the winner. Executive Chef Manuel Rodriguez, who runs Ryogoku Sushi.

Located on the fourth floor of the SpringHill Suites Marriott Panama City Beach, 12513 Front Beach Road, the new sushi bar is an extension of the hotel’s Compass Bar. Rodriguez explained that the sushi bar is more intended to be a “one-on-one sushi experience” or a date night for a couple by being able to chat with the sushi chef.

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Rodriguez is director of food and beverage at the all-suite hotel, which opened in June 2019, since November. He opened the sushi bar in February and named it “Ryogoku” because it translates to the place between two countries.

“Get the best of both worlds,” Rodriguez said. “When the Japanese started making sushi, it was made in Ryogoku; the name caught my attention. A lot of people come here and we want to give them the best of both worlds (Japan and the beach).”

The 30A roll is one of the most popular on the menu.

A display case showcases fresh ingredients at the bar, where most of the seating overlooks the large windows overlooking the MB Miller County Pier and the Gulf of Mexico – what better place to enjoy fresh seafood. The sushi bar and dining room are open to everyone whether they are on vacation or just want to stop for a meal and feel like they are on vacation.

“Locals can not only go to the local sushi restaurants, but we have great food here, not hotel food,” Rodriguez said. “Everything is made from scratch. We want you to come in and have a nice dinner. We want the people in Panama City Beach to have fun with us.”

Originally from Venezuela, Rodriguez moved to the United States in 2002 and attended the Art Institute of Washington, where he was named Titanium Chef AIW in 2008. He was also named Regional Chef of the Year in 2012 and 2015, he won the Embassy Chef. People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice awards ceremony. In 2019, Rodriguez was named Preferred Catering Co. and Best Latin American Restaurant in Washington, DC, and 2020 Best Chef and Private Caterer.

“One of the dishes I won with was ‘Back to Life’: a seafood ceviche with mussels, clams, octopus, shrimp, fish, a light tomato base – the success of at night, ”he said. “As a kid, I grew up eating this and going to the beach, where they sold it. It was so refreshing in the summer. I don’t want to eat a burger in the summer, but it’s light and it fills you up around. up, don’t pull you down – ‘Vuelve a la Vida.’ “

Previously, Rodriguez had opened Crave restaurants “with a full component of sushi” for Las Vegas and Bethesda, MD. He moved to the Florida Panhandle after the “DC shutdown” was due to COVID-19.

Sushi Chef Jason Jarrell, left, and Chef Manuel Rodriguez worked together on the new sushi menu.

Ryogoku Sushi serves sushi rolls, nigiri, sashimi, poke bowls, vegan options

Sushi rolls range from Philly, $ 13.95, with salmon, cream cheese, and sesame seeds, to Unicorn, $ 19.95, a California roll topped with the chef’s selection of four types of fish : tuna, salmon, eel and (real) crab meat.

“I have local fish in Water Street (seafood in Apalachicola). When it comes to fish, I literally try to meet the best people in the area,” Rodriguez said. “Usually they bring in fresh fish every day. Intentionally I only buy a certain amount and it runs out because I want people to know it’s fresh.”

Aqua man sushi roll includes sushi shrimp, fresh tuna, cream cheese, avocado, jalapeño, spicy mayonnaise, unagi and hibachi sauces.

“I tried to get some of the local names to present our sushi. ‘Aqua man’ is because we are by the ocean, and there are 30A,” Rodriguez said.

The 30A roll contains tempura shrimp, salmon, avocado, sesame seeds and a sweet sauce.

“The 30A roll is a bit sweeter with shrimp tempura and avocado in it, and I have a pepper salad on the side,” said sushi chef Jason Jarrell. “This one (30A) is the most popular, and the Crunchy Angry Tuna is right behind.”

“Born and raised” in Panama City, Jarrell started working at Mikato in 1994 and has been in the industry ever since. Although he focuses on the art and loses count quickly, Jarrell estimates that he makes an average of 30 to 40 sushi rolls a day “and we haven’t hit peak season yet.”

Crunchy Angry Tuna is a combination of spicy tuna, bluefin tuna, albacore tuna and crispy tempura flakes.

“It’s angry because it’s spicy, and there’s also a spicy tuna, but I didn’t want you to just get spice for the spicy,” said Rodriguez, who really enjoys looking at the expressions of the diners while they eat and surprised by the flavors.

Spicy tuna contains chili oil, spicy mayonnaise, avocado, leaf lettuce, and yamagobo. A spicy salmon roll gets its heat from sriracha with yamagobo, leaf lettuce and cucumber.

The 30A roll was as surprising and delicious as it was presented in an exquisite and colorful way. First, the smooth textures and flavors of the salmon and avocado hit my palate, followed by the salty crunch of the tempura shrimp, with a sweet and crunchy finish. I have never tasted so many layers in one bite.

“The salmon and avocado are silky, then the rice is tender, and add the tempura shrimp with sweetness and crunch. There’s something a little more with the crunchiness of the sesame seeds,” Rodriguez said. “Our idea is to create, to make you travel, to try to intensify it and to offer more.”

The Pier offers spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber inside, topped with a seaweed salad and tempura flakes.

With the Pier, you can’t eat all the layers in one bite without giving up the chopsticks.

“It’s going to be a lot of different things with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura and cream cheese inside, and avocado and cucumber topped with seaweed, crunchy flakes and a sweet sauce.” , said Rodriguez. “Mix it up, play, take it all in one bite with different elements. I don’t want you to have a single note bite.”

Each piece was easily two bites, with the spice hitting the back.

Jarrell doesn’t use soy sauce, although he offered it to me because he prefers the taste of fish. I found out that I hadn’t used it either, and when I next tried a leftover piece of the home jetty with soy sauce, I found it to be beyond the perfect balance.

Rodriguez and Jarrell both prefer Chamo Sushi Roll for its combination of tuna, escolar, jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, spicy mayo, and citrus soy sauce. (Jarrell is particularly fond of cilantro and the spice of jalapeno.) And since Chamo is slang for “buddy,” Rodriguez said, he deliberately wanted the name to match what he considers one of the best.

“Bring your pal (Chamo) to the beach and walk out onto the pier; that tells a story,” Jarrell said.

Rodriguez recently named the latest sushi roll after sushi chef JJ’s Roll.

“I eat at least one (JJ’s Roll) a day,” Rodriguez admitted.

The seafood salad includes tuna, salmon and snow crab meat served over a ponzu sauce, accompanied by avocado garnished with sesame seeds and English cucumber drizzled with fresh lime.

JJ’s Roll uses an English cucumber leaf, rather than seaweed and sushi rice, to encapsulate the spicy tuna, asparagus and avocado, topped with a salad of salmon and snow crab meat mixed with Roasted red pepper mayonnaise for a “touch of spice,” Jarrell said.

Similar flavors were found in the seafood salad: tuna, salmon and snow crab meat over ponzu sauce, all served with avocado topped with sesame seeds. The English cucumber, smashed with the fresh lime used in the ponzu, also added a bright element to the plate.

The sushi bar also serves vegan rolls, from $ 7.50 to $ 12.95, including vegan cucumber, vegan avocado, and vegan compass (carrot, spinach, asparagus, cucumber, avocado, and sesame dressing) .

“I’m like the toughest eater in the world and it was fantastic,” said Kelly Sharenko, who ordered a vegan roll. “This is our first time in Panama City Beach, only here for a day.”

She and her husband, Darren Sharenko, of Austin, TX, were stopping to stay overnight on their way to pick up an RV in DeFuniak Springs.

The menu also includes poke bowls, $ 16.95 each, with a traditional and keto option. Nigiri (sold in pairs) and sashimi are also available with choices such as yellowfin, amberjack, albacore, salmon, and escolar.

JJ's Roll is served with a view of the beach from the sushi bar on the fourth floor of Marriott's SpringHill Suites in Panama City Beach.

RECIPE:

JJ Roller

  • 1/3 English cucumber
  • 1 ounce of spicy tuna (1/2 tablespoon of spicy mayo)
  • 1 piece of asparagus
  • ¼ avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 ounce of snow crab meat
  • 1 ounce of salmon
  • 1 tablespoon of roasted red pepper mayonnaise

If you have a vegetable slicer, it will help you tremendously (you can get it on Amazon for $ 20). Once you have your cucumber leaf, add your avocado, asparagus and spicy tuna.

Roll your cucumber leaf. Garnish with snow crab and salmon. Finish it off with sesame seeds for extra crunch.


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