FISHES Recieves Fantastic Review From Mouth of the Columbia
MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA
Mouth delighted to find fresh seafood and fine sushi in Cannon Beach
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 8:00 am
I am a coastal native, so please know that when I write this, I write it with love.
When you say the word “sushi” to a local, you’re likely to hear one of two responses: either, “Yes, I LOVE sushi! Name the time and place!” or alternately, “Raw fish? Gross! Eww!” Luckily for me, and the purposes of this review, I am of the former opinion, and I’ve often puzzled over why, living in an area with daily access to fresh seafood, there isn’t more sushi.
Cue John and Sandy Newman, and a restaurant that is revolutionizing the North Coast sushi experience with Fishes Sushi & Japanese Cuisine. Nestled right in the heart of downtown Cannon Beach, Fishes opened in the fall of 2011 and took over a spot that was previously inhabited for 18 years by JP’s, under the ownership of Bill and Diana Pappas. If John and Sandy sound familiar to you, it’s because they also own Newmans at 988, which was named The Daily Astorian’s restaurant of the year in 2006 and is a local mainstay for elegant French-Italian food. Chef John Newman’s culinary experience is impressive and expansive, including working under the renowned Ming Tsai at Silks Restaurant in San Francisco.
On the evening I visited Fishes, the restaurant was packed to the gills. We selected miso soup and edamame to start, standard Japanese fare, akin to a soup and salad in an American restaurant. Both were excellent and sufficiently whetted the appetite for what was to be a night of outstanding sushi.
Next up was a “hot rock,” which is just as it sounds: a rock, heated for several hours in a hot oven, and topped with tuna, salmon and steak. The slabs of fish and steak are searing on the hot rock as the dish is brought to the table, and from there, a diner can choose their level of “doneness.” We sampled each offering mostly raw and were hungry for more.
A seaweed salad arrived next and was a crisp and refreshing, tasting of the sea itself: sweet and salty with a pleasing spike of sesame.
We next chose a few sushi rolls. The spider roll, a type of uramaki sushi, included deep-fried soft-shell crab, avocado and cucumber with sushi rice inside a traditional nori (seaweed) wrap and topped with roe. Paired with the savory blend of soy sauce and spicy wasabi, the roll was perfect; crunchy, chewy and amply sized. A lobster roll was equally as delicious and presented well. A third maki roll of seasonal vegetables was also impeccable and beautifully rolled with avocado slices, which lent the look of green rose petals. Something I love about Japanese cuisine is the attention to the aesthetic element of the presentation; it is a pleasure both to see it and to eat it.
From the sushi and sashimi menu we chose three types of nigiri (a traditional slab of raw fish on white sticky rice): tuna, salmon and unagi eel. I find tuna to be the most flavorful fish in the sushi spectrum, and the version served at Fishes is no exception; for those who are reticent to try raw fish, tuna is an excellent entry point. Salmon is an oilier fish and as such lends a mellow, buttery taste and, to my taste buds, is less “fishy” raw than it is cooked. And though eel can seem especially off-putting to nonsushi eaters, at Fishes it is quite delicious and extremely palatable, with a texture similar to roasted chicken.
A perfect end to the evening arrived in the form of sake sorbet, a sort of shaved ice infused with the traditional Japanese fermented rice wine. Although there are many kinds of sake (and many I don’t care for), this one was very light, crisp and slightly sweet: an ideal palate cleanser for a meal of many flavors.
The restaurant itself feels trendy and hip, upscale and very much in the spirit of Cannon Beach. The menu also includes many items for those who prefer their seafood cooked, including tempura, ramen dishes and teriyaki. I am delighted, though, to find such a fine selection of sushi here on the coast, and I hope that in the future more diners will cast their fears aside and go the way of the (raw) fish.
Chef John Newman of Newmans at 988 Opening Sushi Restaurant in Cannon Beach
July 9, 2011
Bill and Diana Pappas and John and Sandy Newman are pleased to announce the joining of sorts as the Pappas’ retire and the Newmans take over their space at 240 N Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach.
Bill and Diana Pappas have decided to retire JP’s Restaurant after nearly 18 years. They began in the Cannon Beach Hotel location in 1994 and moved to their current location in 2004.
The Newmans will be taking over the lease at 240 N Hemlock as of October 1, 2011. Their concept, although in its earliest stages, is named FISHES Sushi and will feature Asian-inspired style meats, vegetarian and sushi. The concept is based on John’s experience at Silks Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco and FISHES Seafood and Steaks in Pacific City. An opening date has been tentatively set for November 10, 2011. The Newmans will continue to operate Newmans at 988 in Midtown Cannon Beach.