There’s a pretty stark small town charm to Old Town Orcutt, which packs a lot of eating and drinking action in a few square blocks south of Santa Maria. But it’s certainly not the place where you’d expect to find some of the best sushi and most inventive Asian fusion cuisine in Santa Barbara County. That’s what’s happening right now at Niya Restaurant, whose stylish and sleek interior fills up an otherwise nondescript building in East Clark Avenue.
And during lunch, it’s also quite a steal. For just $9, your bento box comes with the generously portioned main dish (either pork belly, nicely crisped katsu chicken, or seared salmon) and its dipping sauce as well as a hearty crunch roll, tempura shrimp and veggies (including a shisito pepper), miso soup, rice (if desired), and a lightly dressed salad. It’s plenty, but you’d be silly to pass up raw slices of whatever fresh fish is on the menu. They come with a freshly made wasabi, which is a revelation, more jelly-like rather than pasty, more zesty than just nose-tingling. Wash it all down with one of the many beers on tap, or something from the informed wine list, whch includes viognier by Clarissa Nagy (whose tasting room is down the street) and rosé by Lieu Dit.
$8.99 for bento box; 205 E. Clark Ave.,; (805) 332-3065; NiyaRestaurant.com