Big Eye Raw Bar — the newest addition inside the S.B. Public Market on the corner of Victoria and Chapala — is phenomenal. It serves up innovative and exciting takes on sashimi, sushi, poké bowls, and oysters.
Owners Dudley Michael (owner of The Shop Café on Milpas) and Ryan Patronyk (owner of Cajé in Isla Vista) have teamed up with none other than chef David Rosner to lead the kitchen to victory. Chef Rosner boasts an impressive résumé, notably the Wine Cask and Intermezzo.
I started off with the steak tartare hand roll. Wrapped in soy paper, seasoned with harissa, sprinkled with fried capers, and garnished with daikon radish, the steak tartare is a perfect opener. The flavors are balanced, the harissa is not overpowering, and the taste and texture of the raw steak is a unique treat — all at the fair price of $5, too.
Next was a gorgeous plate of the hamachi sashimi at $12. For this dish, beautiful pieces of sliced yellowtail are lightly dressed with a bright green cilantro oil, topped with thinly sliced jalapeños, and garnished with cilantro microgreens. The result is an incredibly vibrant and fresh dish that really pops. I was easily able to run the tip of my chopstick through the middle of the fish to half one of the pieces like a knife through butter — great quality. The cilantro and jalapeños made it a bright and lively experience.
And then more: The ahi nigiri, at $8, is Big Eye’s take on tuna on crispy rice. Usually this dish would use a mixture of aioli and tuna, but Chef Rosner has opted to keep the fish more unadulterated by placing a rich red slab of ahi sushi on a tempura-fried block of sushi rice with a thin layer of avocado purée in between, layering the fish with a modest amount of chili d’arbola aoli and garnishing it with the microgreen cilantro again — it’s blissful to say the least.
Next, I had the spicy salmon bowl, $14. Big chunks of fish tossed in a light wasabi teriyaki sauce filled the bowl to brim. The wasabi was mild enough so the flavors of the fish still came through, but the spice was still there. And the zest from the fresh locally sourced ginger brought the authenticity of the dish full circle.
For the raw fish aficionado, this place is a must.