|the jalapeno yellow tail sashimi|
As much as I love all things California, there's nothing that saddens me more than the California roll. I had anything but at the chic new restaurant Level in Richmond, VA. Anyone who knows me knows that I am partial to Asian cuisine. It's almost as if chopsticks make things better.
|The Fan Roll|
In L.A., "Asian Fusion" mixes Asian food with Americana, but at Level, they take it up a notch. Their Asian Fusion simply mixes different Asian cuisines in one menu. One can order classic sashimi and a plate of Chinese lo Mein or a spicy Thai basil dish. Something else that sets Level apart from other Asian establishments is the atmosphere. It felt like a nightclub, sans the dancefloor. Softly thumping beats fill the room, which was lit in purples and blues. An open staircase runs along a mirrored wall. Our favorite feature was the glass bar, which would light up pink wherever you touched it.
We started with the yellow tail sashimi with jalapeno. Sitting delicately in a Ponzu-type sauce, it was by far our favorite dish. It had simplicity, and tasted of the sea.
We couldn't resist sampling a couple of their signature rolls, The Fan and the Surf and Turf roll. The Surf and Turf roll stood out, as it was wrapped a a thin, smoky piece of filet mignon, stuffed with tempura lobster, spicy crab, spicy tuna, and topped with red and black caviar. When the flavors married, it was divine, with the tempura lobster giving a delightful crunch for texture.
|the Surf & Turf Roll|
We wanted a Chinese dish as well, in homage to Sandy. She's part owner, Chinese and distractingly beautiful. When we entered the restaurant, we saw her sitting in a booth, chatting with customers. Upon seeing us enter, she stood to shake our hands. "My grandparents owned restaurants, my parents owned restaurants, so I decided to open one. I don't know anything else!" She says this without resignation, but with family pride. So we ordered Chinese, and sampled her Shrimp lo mein.
|Shrimp Lo Mein|
It's very rare you can order a noodle dish in this town and get pan-seared noodles, but I did. They were slippery but with a slight crunch, which we loved. The dish was smoky, fresh and the shrimp succulent.
Level is certainly a place worth trying. It's not a first date place, but a second date kind of place. You have to really like the person, because Level is sexy. It makes a strong statement.
Check out their light-up bar in the below video!