Today is: Friday, July 19, 2024

Tengu Restaurant Review

Tengu Santa Monica, in my opinion this restaurant should win a Gold Medallion Award for "Best Asian and Sushi Restaurant Cuisine" it offers a sophisticated
blend of inventive Asian cuisine. One can imagine restaurant moguls trying to
think of ways to amaze their customers. This is a truly destination hot
restaurant, in a tourist hot spot full of stylish hotels. Tengu Santa Monica
is a location whose scale and history could handle any fantasy.

I loved the décor; designed by the celebrated Franklin Studios, Tengu Santa Monica reinterprets the traditional Asian aesthetic with a contemporary flair. With its dramatic black-and-white palette, sculpted coffered ceilings, lavish use of Indian marble and travertine, and bleached wood parquet floors, the feeling is of a grand Japanese palace. Matching indoor-outdoor sushi and cocktail bars anchor the main dining
room, which wrap into one of the city’s most spectacular oceanfront patios,
affording an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean (formerly longtime
home to the famed Ivy at the Shore).


Their manager is a master host with gracious manners that offers consistent
assurance to patrons that they will receive only the finest food and
service when they visit Tengu in Santa Monica.

    Live Lobster Special                            Red Snapper Carpaccio

The tables were beginning to fill up quickly on the night my guest and I visited for dinner, despite the fact that it was barely 7:30pm on a Saturday night. A wonderful and lively cocktail bar scene that features an extensive selection of rare and
premium Japanese sakes (by the glass, flight, or bottle), Tengu’s signature
house-infused chilled pineapple sake (by the glass or carafe), premium
Japanese beers, domestic and imported wines (by the glass or bottle),
and signature cocktails (by the glass or flaming volcano bowl). Their bar
is without a doubt one of the best happening scenes in Santa Monica.

       Long Island Ice Teas                          Samurai Thief / Pear Sake

They have an extensive menu of Shunji Nakao’s signature sushi, sashimi, and Omakase selections; traditional nigiri sushi and sashimi; signature rolls, and sushi
bar specialties and an expansive menu of hot kitchen specialties of pan-Asian
cuisine – favorites from Tengu – Westwood Village. These include: Tengu’s
signature Subarashi roll, Zen Crunch, Sashimi Picante, Kurama Yama,
Asian Tartare, Tuna a la Tostada, Lobster Cocktail, Jalapeño-Miso
Chilean Sea Bass, Togarashi-Crusted New York Strip with Pomegranate
demi-glaze, Filet-Wrapped Asparagus, Asian Pear and Arugula Salad,
Roasted New Zealand Lamb Chops, and much more.

Our Beautiful Servers                                Chilean Sea Bass

Our gracious server Saska, started us of with a great selection of their signature appetizers by serving an incredible selection of assorted chef’s sashimi, such as
Tuna, Maguro, Hamachi, Kanpachi and Halibut, it was simply the best sashimi in town, the fish was the freshest you can find, also what a great presentation.


Assorted Sashimi Appetizers

The service was superb, we could not ask for a better waitress; Saska was simply divine, she showed up with a tempting platter of styled dishes that we all have truly enjoyed, their version possess an even more colorful flavor profile and presentation;
all their rolls were fantastic and delicious, I can’t say which was my favorite,
because everything we ate was superb. Here are some of the appetizers
that we had, and you can’t miss:

  Sashimi                                              Crab Cakes  

Baked Eel Sushi  (Unagi)

Blue Point Crab Cakes with panko, avocado salsa, roasted red bell pepper sauce, one of the best we ever had, the Crispy Imokoro; a tempura-style spicy tuna,
whipped potato on a katsu salsa – excellent choice, the Sake-Fired Garlic
Sprouts; prepared on a wok sautéed breast of chicken,
shrimp with white mushrooms.

Sake-Fired Garlic Sprouts                           Master Shunji Nakao

The word ‘presentation’ is key when describing the artful delivery of Executive Chef/Sushi Master Shunji Nakao. It was observed by gastronomes centuries ago
that when we dine, we ‘eat’ first with our eyes. This fact is taken full advantage
by Chef Shunji, and his veteran staff, who make sure that the visual appeal of
each dish maintains a level of creativity that will impress diners before they
even lift a fork. The entrees we sampled were no exception to this rule.

Tuna Tostada

Subarashi Roll

The sushi rolls were absolutely perfectly done and simply the best we have ever had. When dining at Tengu, you can’t miss the Tuna Tostada, a crispy rice topped with spicy tuna, not only delicious, but very unusual, we loved it! The Subarashi Roll; with spicy shrimp, seared tuna, avocado, sweet onion on a ginger sauce. The Lobster roll
is the one you can’t miss as well, huge lobster and great presentation and taste.

The Lobster Roll

Also try the Zen Crunch, with spicy albacore, sesame, ginger sauce, with sweet
onion on a tempura style – this is very tender you can truly taste all these
incredible flavors in one simple bite.

Zen Crunch Roll                                        The Mizore Roll

The Mizore Roll, is a symphony of tastes and textures combining crab, avocado, seared albacore, crispy shallots, carrots, jalapeño, ponzu, sesame chili oil, and
ground Japanese radish, simply out of this world!

Chilean Sea Bass

As far as hot dishes, you can’t miss the magnificent Jalapeno-miso Chilean sea bass, with miromi miso-marinated roasted Chilean sea bass, grilled garlic shoots,
jalapeno on a chile-mile sauce, it was an innovative marvel.

Togarashi-Crusted New York Strip Steak

We also tried an incredible preparation of Togarashi-crusted New York strip,
fanned prime New York strip, grilled to perfection on a ginger-asparagus,
frizzled boniato, pomegranate demi-glaze. These appetizing renderings
were also works of art on their respective platters.

Seafood Carpaccio  Appetizer                   Filet-Wrapped Asparagus   

Their fragrant, Filet-wrapped asparagus is also a dish you can’t miss, a prime filet of beef, grilled asparagus spears, on oyster demi-glaze, amazing to behold, this great combination provided a sumptuous meal of succulent beef that practically melted
in your mouth, and the sauce was a perfect foil to the mix of flavors and textures.

Assortment of Mochi Ice Cream Covered with Chocolate

The dessert my guests and I shared was no less remarkable. Chef’s Shunji’s house specialty, a variety of Mochi – a Japanese delicatessen, it was smothered by 4
variety of ice cream and covered with chocolate. This turned out to be one
the most decadent treats that we have consumed in a long time.

Trio of  Premium Sake

After a couple of Sakes, and we had a trio of them, and a little digestion time, my guests and I eventually made our way slowly through the throng of happy guests,
that had now managed to fill practically every seat in the house. It was clear to see that, they too, understood the satisfied contentment that can instantly be enjoyed
when dining with a ‘trusted friend’. I highly recommend Tengu to those who appreciates the fine dining and the art of authentic and delicious Asian food.

Reservations at: or

Valet Parking: $5 for three hours with Tengu Santa Monica validation

For map and location click Here!

For more information please visit their website at

Article By: Mary Adams
Photos By: Chris Marx

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