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Beirut has a new name in Japanese fine dining cuisine, Le Sushi Bar, and it’s located in the heart of Achrafieh. I say “new” because the Le Sushi Bar has recently undergone some exciting changes. The same location now boasts lighter decor with more space and a new menu.
Imagine: the bar has moved from the middle to the end of the restaurant and the glass facades have been opened wide connecting the restaurant's dining spaces together.
Shifting from a Sushi Restaurant to more contemporary Japanese cuisine, Le Sushi Bar has taken Japanese food yet to another level... This place is not just about sushi and makis, but also about more fine and complicated cuisine imported from all four corners of the globe.
Let's start from scratch and pretend that I have never been here before. The details are what make the difference. I love the wine glasses, the classy chopsticks served in carton wrappings, the unique porcelain plates made in Lebanon, the soft printed blue napkins, the mobile table centre, the dimmed lighting and long line of wine cellars. I love it here!
Finesse... class is in everything this restaurant has to offer. From the welcome to the service throughout, the music and then the food, Le Sushi Bar excels.
Le Sushi Bar is officially "Crab Sticks Free"; eat real food, experience real flavors prepared by none other than the army of Sushi Bar chefs who have been preparing fine dining sushi for more than fifteen years.
The new additions to the menu:
- Grilled edamame, shrimp tempura ramen with homemade stock, garden salad, seafood salad, sashimi salad, seaweed salad, blue crab salad, spinach and amberjack, tofu salad, lobster salad.
- Flamed salmon, scallop and octopus tiraditto, toro carpaccio, white fish ceviche, tuna tattaki, seared wagyu. Lobster tempura, vegetable noodles, shishito peppers, corn on the cob, Australian sweet potato and grilled asparagus.
- Alaskan crab, chicken anticucho, grilled lemon chicken, grilled lobster, spicy beef, Chilean sea bass.
- The makis are now served in five pieces not three.
Lunch starts with ginger, but not just any ginger. That served here is softly bitter with an enjoyably sweet end note. I could eat this for the entire duration of my dinner.
With the large menu comes a piece of paper to tick your choices on and let the kitchen prepare them. No need to take the order, repeat and explain. You can even order a set of cutlery if you prefer it to chopsticks.
Start with a bowl of edamame: ask for the grilled ones. They shine and feel oily, but they are even better than the regular ones! They slide into your mouth while caressing your tongue, a subtle grilled taste makes all the difference - an enjoyable kick of salt, edamame beans cooked al-dente and firm offering a light crunch.
We were seven people at the table, and I was the only one who enjoyed them. I was not sure why. Don’t compare, just eat and enjoy.
Le Sushi Bar offers four soy sauce choices:
- Normal soy sauce.
- Igeta soy aged for five years.
- Gluten free soy sauce: tamari.
- Igeta, izumo premium soy.
Fine food is served, let's enjoy dinner:
- The marinated salmon is to die for! No more lollo rosso lettuce, no more plastic and pre-molded ice cubes. A large porcelain bowl filled with crushed ice hosts a smaller bowl filled with salmon. Beautifully marinated, the salmon is one of the best I've had in town; so smooth - a beautiful texture - and enjoyably flavorful. At the end, take the marinated leaf supporting the whole portion, wrap it around a slice of salmon and enjoy. A wild Japanese shiso leaf offers a boost of aromas like our local mint with a texture and taste of raw grapevine.
- Sashimi salad: two thumbs up. Sashimi fish wrapped around a mix of fresh greens. I am used to eating raw fish sashimi and Le Sushi Bar just added more fun to it.
- Tofu salad: wow! Tofu tempura in lemon sauce on a bed of greens. Under the palate, the chunks of tofu offer a superb feeling, while the lemon ignites the taste journey.
- Spinach salad with slices of amberjack in light ponzu sauce. Yummy! Great fish quality, superb spinach taste and awesome sauce. I loved it!
- Scallops tiradito: beautifully presented like a Michelin starred restaurant does it, scallops are funkily cut, served on a bed of yuzu and sprinkled with siracha. Tender and deliciously marinated scallops with an explosion of spiciness at the end.
- Tatami salmon served warm, five portions of it wrapped around pickled onions. Unfortunately the onions are way too prominent, without the pickled feeling. This one is a no! So I removed the onions to enjoy the salmon better.
- Seafood salad with red chili sauce: a selection of several fish including amberjack, octopus, shrimp with ikura, spring onions, coriander, red radish and fresh lemon with chili lemon dressing. Fish served like a mountain, pieces set one on top of the other and seasoned with some light sweet sauce.
- Tuna tataki, softly flamed with pickled onions and roasted garlic flakes in a matsuhisa dressing.
- Seared Wagu with daikon, rock chive cress and matsuhisa sauce.
- Blue crab salad with purslane, baked potatoes, shiso leaves, red chili pepper and chopped coriander in a lemon dressing. Forget about the common lettuce and avocado added to a conventional crab salad; this one is gourmet.
- Ceviche with fresh corn and sweet potatoes; it took me to Peru and back with its the superb flavor. As good as that which I enjoyed during my last trip to Latin America with its strong lemon and spice. The bowl is served on a bed of crushed ice. It's not a plate for the faint hearted, it’s bizarrely spicy.
- Could you imagine eating shrimp tempura and being transported by flavor... I mean something truly mmm, not oily, salty and crunchy, but loaded with flavor without even having to dip it in a sauce. I'm not a fan usually but these are excellent.
- Creamy shrimps... they're great and not oily at all. But who would appreciate a simple thing like this after all of the above innovations.
An hour and a half passed, as I enjoyed one plate after another. The experience is unique; I invite you to travel carefully around the restaurant's special plates before you jump to the back of the menu.
More food was to come:
- Mini grilled asparagus served like a mikado mountain in a mitsuhisa sauce and a sprinkle of sesame. Fine dining quality, presentation and taste.
- Crunchy fried squid like a tempura.
- Sweet potatoes from Australia.
- Imported corn on the cob with chisu butter.
- Spicy Sweet Angus beef, spongy and tender, on a bed of sweet sauce and a sprinkle of sesame. Like no other.
- The sea bass is as good as a black cod. Intensely juicy inside out, cooked to perfection and marinated in a sublime sauce. Curry with a big chunk of sea bass is one of the best things I've had tonight! This fish is marinated for twenty-four hours, cooked for half an hour and served to amaze.
- Alaskan crab: grilled Alaskan crab legs sprinkled with spring onions! Crab legs cut in half so the meat can be removed easily. A bit too much sauce for my taste but one can't deny how great this creation is. I'm impressed!
Now for the sashimi, sushi and makis:
- It's sashimi time. A selection of finely cut seafood served on a bed of crushed ice. Salmon, octopus, tuna and white fish. Outstanding quality! The salmon is really out of this world. The big clay pot is proudly handmade in Lebanon.
- Makis are now served in orders of five, and as I mentioned earlier you will not find synthetic crabsticks on the menu. Fresh crab gives the roll an explosion of flavor and juicy notes.
- Temakis rolled to perfection; crunchy nori leaves and inside juicy ingredients, not the crunchy cheap crisps.
- Best for last, Le Sushi Bar's best ever roll, probably Lebanon's best as well. The soft shell crab roll with a yellow sauce crowning it. Unmatched perfection!
What an experience. Everything I had was memorable. Every single item was unique: the rolls, the preparations, the plates, the sauces, and the flavors...
And now for dessert. Cakes, fruit and ice cream, the desserts are all made in-house. The ice cream was airy with minimal sugar; a moist slice of chocolate sponge cake, mouthwatering chocolate fondant and a slice of spicy lemon cheesecake. Desserts were as good as everything else I had tonight.
I am lost for words, and I rarely am… I am happy and super satisfied with my experience. I want to tell the world that we have an amazing restaurant worth a Michelin star. Le Sushi Bar is proudly Lebanese. One of Lebanon's oldest sushi restaurants and a true innovator of flavors and new trends.