A few weeks ago I wrote about the new rooftop bar at Le Meridien in downtown Salt Lake City in conjunction with a review of the great new restaurant there called Adelaide. Well, last week I returned to the rooftop bar, called Van Ryder, to check out the new Sushi Night Thursdays that launched on Thursday.
Every Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. Van Ryder hosts Sushi Night Thursdays with a menu featuring sushi rolls, crudo, carpaccio, tartare and such – mostly raw foods – as well as a special beverage menu featuring various sakes and Japanese spirits and beers. That is all in addition to the regular evening menu at Van Ryder: flatbreads, hummus, sliders, poutine, bao buns, and more.
A word of advice before we get started: MAKE A RESERVATION. Van Ryder was slammin’ last Thursday and with their sprawling patio and its unparalleled views, I can’t imagine that it won’t be packed every night. Guests can call ahead and reserve a table indoors or a spot on the patio. Keep in mind also that Van Ryder is a bar for patrons 21 and over.
As you peruse the drink and dinner menus, nibble on the gratis bowl of teriyaki snack mix which is sweet, salty, and surprisingly addictive. Special sushi night beverage options include Shiokawa Cowboy Yamahai Sake; Rihaku ‘Wandering Poet’ Junmai Ginjo Sake; Takatenjin ‘Sword of the Sun’ Fruity Sake; Tozai ‘Snow Maiden’ Junmai Nigori Sake; Yomi Junmai Ginjo Sake [can]; Hatozaki Japanese Blended Whisky; Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey; Haku Vodka; Roku Gin; and Asahi Super Dry 621 ML Japanese Beer.
The night we visited – last Thursday – was the inaugural Sushi Thursday at Van Ryder and, frankly, I wasn’t expecting the new sushi menu to be completely dialed in. Boy was I wrong! Executive Chef Jacqueline Siao, who is head chef at Adelaide, was in the kitchen making sushi and it was fabulous. As I wrote in my Adelaide review, Siao is an uber-talented chef and we’re lucky to have her and her husband, who manages Le Meridien, here in Utah.
A perfect example of her talent in composing deceptively simple, delectable dishes is the Salmon Carpaccio ($26) for Sushi Thursdays. It’s a gorgeous bowl of raw sushi grade salmon drizzled with truffle vinaigrette and topped with fresh pea tendrils and shaved black summer truffles. Wow, it was killer carpaccio, and a good example of a simple dish that is sensational thanks to the proper use of just a few first-rate ingredients. If you prefer raw tuna to salmon, try the tuna tartare with shiitake ginger soy, rice cracker, and cucumber slaw ($18).
There were four sushi rolls available when we visited Van Ryder last week and I particularly loved the Real Cali roll ($26), so named because it’s a California roll that actually is made with real Dungeness crab as opposed to the imitation crab (or “krab”) called surimi, often made from pollock, which finds its way into most California rolls. The Van Ryder Real Cali roll is a maki roll with rice rolled around avocado and crab and topped with caviar (not tobiko) and toasted sesame seeds. If you’d like something with a bit more heat, order the Spicy Tuna roll ($14) with cucumber, avocado and sriracha.
There was no nigiri on the sushi menu when we visited but there was a sashimi-style dish: Kombu Hamachi ($18). Again, this was a simple but sensational dish. Beautiful slices of raw hamachi were topped with diced pineapple, sprinkled with Szechuan peppercorns and ponzu, with thin-sliced chives on a bed of kombu – edible kelp. Other starters on the Thursday Night Sushi menu include some tempting veggie dishes including Sweet Yama ($16) tempura sweet potato; Shishito Peppers ($13) with ginger shoyu and toasted sesame seeds; and Agedashi Tofu ($12) with bonito, scallion and dashi.
Service at Van Ryder is stellar and we love seeing our favorite servers like Joe, who was kind enough to track down some gluten free soy sauce for my wife. One of the cooked items on the Sushi Night Thursdays menu is a fabulous one: Lobster & Shrimp Tempura ($32) with yuzu kosho and a wonderfully spicy black pepper marmalade, sprinkled with finely minced scallion greens. Yuzu kosho is a secret weapon of many chefs, a condiment usually made from Thai chiles fermented with salt and the juice and zest from yuzu, a fragrant, tart citrus fruit grown in East Asia. It’s perfect with Chef Siao’s crispy, airy tempura shrimp and lobster.
Not quite satiated, we decided after the tempura to order one more sushi roll. We considered the Firecracker roll ($18) with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, charred scallions, sriracha aioli, ponzu and jalapeño. But ultimately, since we’d just had tempura, we opted for a roll called La Bonita Hamachi ($19). This was another really marvelous maki roll made with fresh amberjack, and avocado, topped with jalapeño slices, cilantro microgreens, ponzu and tobiko.
With its stunning rooftop patio, gorgeous decor, excellent service, and fab food & drink, Van Ryder is already one of the most sought-after spots in downtown SLC. And now, with warm weather and the addition of Sushi Night Thursdays, I suspect it’s going to get even busier. Stay tuned to Utah Bites for further updates because I heard a rumor about Taco Tuesdays coming to Van Ryder.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week: “You know how kids dream of being soccer players or actors? Well, my dream was to be a sushi chef.” – Nobu Matsuhisa
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.