Eat This Now: Royal Sushi and Izakaya’s “Industry” Chirashi

You won't find it on the menu, it's only available between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., and it's easily one of the best late-night eats in town.

You know what’s cool about Royal Sushi and Izakaya? Like we told you last week, pretty much everything, from the shumai to the sushi to the space robots. But when a restaurant like this surprise-opens on you (mind you, nearly six years after it was first announced), the smaller details reveal themselves over time, on the fly, something new for every visit.

Like, say, Royal chef Jesse Ito’s off-the-menu “industry” chirashi.

First thing’s first: it comes in a kitchen pint container. Why? Ito says the idea was born in Laurel of all places, at a pop-up dinner right before Jesse and his father Masaharu “Matt” Ito announced their new partnership with David Frank and Stephen Simons. “After the last seating, Nick Elmi invited a bunch of industry friends over for an after-party. I had some sushi rice left over and all of these hungry restaurant people, so I grabbed a pack of pint containers and started making chirashi bowls with them. Everyone was loving it, and I realized at that moment that this needs to be a thing, specifically in the pint container.” For the uninitiated, chirashi’s proper name is chirashizushi — “chirashi” means “scattered” and “sushi” means “sour rice” — so, scattered fish, vegetables, pickles over seasoned sushi rice. He calls it a “quick, more informal way of eating fish and rice.”

He also called the fish he uses “sushi scraps”, though calling them that wouldn’t be an accurate depiction of the product. Really, they’re just the end pieces, the cuts unfit for nigirizushi due to their shape and size, but absolutely appropriate for literally anything else — especially something as casual as chirashi. The five or so pieces of fish he adds to the dish usually run anywhere between $4-$15 each, so if these are “scraps”, then consider yourself spoiled. And those yellow pieces on top (pictured above)? That’s tamago, a classic component of any chirashi, basically a sweet, custardy egg omelette.

All of this — the expert sushi rice, all of that fish, the dollop of mentaiko (spicy cod roe), scallions, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce — is just $16, making it one of the most affordable chirashi bowls in town. But keep in mind, it’s only available between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., you know, for industry folks (and those who like to eat late).

“I know the general late night food options: burgers, tacos, and greasy food,” Ito told us. “To get a bowl packed with the best quality proteins at a very, very, very reasonable price is hard to come by, so this is me saying, ‘Hey, come visit me and eat some good fish.'”

Dinner At The Fish Riot: Royal Sushi And Izakaya Reviewed [Foobooz]
Royal Sushi and Izakaya [Foobooz]