From Beirut’s uber chic Achrafiya district comes the crème del la crème of Japanese dining that is Le Sushi Bar, now serving its upscale concept at the luxurious Hamra Tower. Perhaps in this case a location of a given restaurant should speak miles about the quality dining to be expected, and Le Sushi Bar does exceed all expectations in delivering an inimitable dining experience in an opulent ambience.
We highly advise visitors to deviate from dining in the traditional sense, following a uniform flow of starters, appetizers, and desserts. Instead, go for a mix of items from Le Sushi Bar’s extensively varied menu, from small plates, on ice selections, kitchen specialties, Ura Maki heaven that promises a rich blend of innovative maki rolls, Temakis, special sushi’s and mouthwatering sashimis. Whether you choose to sit by the Sushi Bar, observing the talented chefs prepare the mouthwatering Maki rolls, or in the rustic lounge seats set in shades of auburn and deep mahogany brown, Le Sushi Bar emanates with a warmth that makes you feel instantly comfortable, calmly expecting an orchestrated production of flavors to ensue.
A friendly note from the staff, your chosen dishes will be brought to your table upon readiness, ensuring a steady flow of delicacies that doesn’t take away from the careful talent required to prepare each and every dish. Offering a contemporary Japanese menu, traditional elements are elevated to another level of bountiful flavors using quality, imported ingredients that shine through with the addition of certain fusion dishes. The tuna dishes we sampled, for instance, used some of the tastiest tuna we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying in town. We were later informed that this special Tuna comes all the way from the Mediterranean Sea and is called Little Tunny, a variation of ‘little tuna’.
Our Tuna and Shiitake tartar arrived firstly, served in a beautifully crafted ice mold, the freshly diced tuna, mixed with the nutty textures of shiitake mushroom and sesame oil made for an amazing delight to start off with. The simple idea of serving the exquisite tuna meat in a frozen platter is genius; it remained chilled for the remainder of our dining experience!
Offsetting this cool delight comes the hot and spicy Edamame in chili garlic sauce. With this regular favorite, expect more of a heat rather than a kick of spiciness. Amidst us digging into the Edamame, a refreshing frozen ginger flavored Margarita also arrives at our table, followed by the Seabream with spinach salad. An enlightening culinary delight, this salad is artfully prepared with carefully placed spinach leaves, crispy sheets, the wonderful seabream, along with fish roe and a zesty lemon dressing.
A secondary selection promptly follows suit, including the unique Ark Shell Ura Maki, Salmon Crispy Ura Maki, along with a piping hot plate of baked snow crab. A Japanese delicacy, also known as the red clam, the Ark Shell Ura maki is expertly constructed with diced granny smith apples, flying fish roe, wasabi and lemon, spring onions, togarashi, Chives wrap, mix cress topping and a wasabi jalapeno dressing. Truly innovative, the blend of textures on this wrap is unlike anything we’ve sampled before. The baked Snow Crab also famously stood out, as we sensed a hint of a French twist to the creamy, albeit spicy sauce and chunky pieces of fresh crabmeat. The end result though is undisputed; we’re surely ordering this plate again.
Speaking of fusion, you will be astonished by the addictive Fois Gras Ura Maki: tempura fried fois gras with shiitake mushrooms, grapes, and a red cress topping with sweet miso dressing. Strange, but sensationally delicious! Another fusion creation includes the grilled lamb in miso butter, the miso giving the tenderized lamb a wonderful edge. If that doesn’t satisfy the adventurous gourmand within, then we recommend the seared tuna on spicy salsa that is wondrously untraditional, who else but these culinary gurus can think of chilies, lime and cucumbers to compliment that amazing tuna?
Before we ended our Le Sushi Bar experience with dessert, we also tried some traditional specialties, including an expertly prepared Salmon Kimchi, delicately sweet, along with a gloriously soft and supple caramelized black cod with a sweet miso reduction, and shrimp tempura with a creamy spicy sauce.
Dessert at Le Sushi Bar is a sinuous foray of gourmet charms. A rich chocolate fondant along with fresh vanilla bean ice cream, the chocolate not too sweet, yet deeply indulgent, will definitely end your meal at a high note. Or, if you fancy something fruity, the red fruit crumble, with mixed berries and tropical mango, will effectively have you mixing it with the melting chocolate fondant, creating an unforgettable mélange of sugary glee.
After an exquisite evening, it’s no wonder that Le Sushi Bar is still an award winning culinary sensation in Beirut. Ever since its inception in 1998, this pioneer in the field of Japanese cuisine has proven, time and time again, that innovation and perpetual progress are core elements of this establishment’s vision.