Kumi-Ko Sushi

Having just returned from SeaWorld with my grandson, I had a driving desire for sushi. It seems that watching fish jump and frolic makes me want to consume Pisces. Even though there seems to be a sushi bar on every corner, few lure me in the doors as I want my sushi fresh, flavorful, and authentic (if it can’t be authentic, then it must be extraordinary). My dear friends, Will and Lori Barrow told me about a new buzz in the sushi world here in our little paradise called, Kumi-Ko. They had dined at Kumi-Ko and even though they had a pregnant friend joining them, this owner and chef impressed them enough to divulge me to go and take a stab at this new concept in sushi dining. (The chefs made distinct meals for her, as Prego’s are not supposed to eat raw fish).

I instantly loved the décor, open and fresh looking with a low style sushi bar and an open kitchen with four chef’s slicing and creating for all to see. Cat Fish, our chef instantly won me over as a man who knows fish, so I ordered the omakase (which means you let the chef choose your meal). We were first given a small plate of edamame and a trio of small starters including takon, pickled octopus, and a seaweed salad. A large sake appeared and we shared it with the chef toasting to this culinary tour.

Now, gifted as I am with an extraordinarily delicate and precise palate, I was blown away with my first dish. The Ono Tuna Tataki Wrap nearly made my head implode. Fresh, perfectly cut and seared tuna is wrapped around crabmeat, cucumber sticks, micro greens and lay in a puddle spicy ginger/sesame sauce. I wanted him to just repeat that dish, but I had put myself in this wise chef’s hands, so I moved on. My next dish was the English Cucumber Salmon Roll, with fresh salmon wrapped around a slice of avocado, red onions, tomato slices and sprinkled with capers. I loved that there was no rice in either of these dishes, so the fish reigned supreme.

Gary got Uni as it was still nearly wiggling and there is nothing better super fresh then a sea urgent. It was so inspired; he did not even dip it in the soy wasabi dip. Then he moved on to scallop sushi where large fresh Japanese scallops sang like a simple, yet elegant sea symphony. Next Cat Fish loaded brought us Hamachi belly sushi that was large and fresh. The Albacore belly was rich like butter, and the halibut was delectable.

Seeing that we were ready to try the big rolls that Kumi-Ko is famous for, Cat Fish made us a Baby Lobster Roll. The inside is crabmeat, cucumber, avocado greens, while the outside is adorned with baked baby lobster (langostino) and saturated with the house cream sauce, eel sauce, masago, and green onions. I swear this food touched me on a cellular level; we have not eaten this good since mankind crawled out of the sea.

I finished off with a tamago sushi, my form of dessert when eating at a sushi bar. Tamago is made by combining eggs, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and a touch of sake. When done right, there is no better way to end a flawless sushi meal.

Kumi-Ko means success, beauty, or child in Japanese, a perfect name for the newest development in restaurants featuring Sushi and Japanese style tapas. Open for lunch and dinner everyday in the Marigold Shopping Center at 3830-1 Broad Street in San Luis Obispo or call them at (805) 439-2332.


Consistency, romance, culinary delights, and perfect service. It is always so good to go home to Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano. This restaurant is a élite keepsake on the Central Coast. The staff is phenomenal, so well trained they compliment your choice to dine here. We came with friends and everything about the meal was impressive. Rosa’s is tucked away at the entrance to Price Street, but it is the go-to spot when you want to impress visiting guests or business acquaintances.

Gary started with the specialty desert a Chocolate Tangelo. Two scoops of chocolate/tangelo gelato served in a frosted dish with a cannelloni with mascarpone and candied bird nest decoration with an accompanying orange soaked in plum wine so it was so sweet he ate the rind. He was kind and offered to share, a feat I think only happened because we were with guests.

The rest of us started with the calamari appetizer. Fried crisp, these tubes and tentacles were perfectly cooked and dunked in a house made cocktail sauce and a cilantro cream dipping green sauce that brought out the essence of the ocean when combined.

The owner, Bill came to join us for a glass of wine and told funny jokes and sweet stories about his late wife. Then he brought us a taste of his newest concoction, a swirly pasta sautéed in a white wine olive oil sauce with hunks of fennel and sausage. An original taste that ended with a touch of fire. We all agreed it should be put on the specialty menu. I love that he is trying to bring the Italian palate to California.

I started with the Tuna Capriccio with a thin layer of smoked ahi tune covered with arugula leaves, onions, and capers. Capers are my favorite fruit and this dish holds both large and small ones. When eating this, I am in salty heaven. I have never seen it offered anywhere else, and I could eat it every day.

Then I had an appetizer as an entrée, as the special menu beckoned to my senses. This mastermind dish consisted of large scallops wrapped in prosciutto resting on a bed of sautéed spinach and caramelized Parmesan cheese crisp. It was a symphony of flavors, and I inhaled it as if it was my last meal.

Gary had the Brianna Platter Special, which is named after the chef’s daughter and always a hit. It is a huge manicotti with a spinach ricotta covered in flavorful tomatoes sauce and beef cannelloni. He was awed at the shear size of the dishes and the remarkable flavor.

Even though it is an Italian restaurant, our friend had heard hey have the best steak filets. Confirmed by Chef Doug McMillan to be the best from Creekside Farm, where the flavor of free-range beef is outstanding, and the benefits many. He devoured every inch of this medium-rare hunk of beef, we tried a bite, and it astounded us. Accompanied by the chef’s famous saffron risotto, this was a mouth-watering repast.

Our friend ordered the four cheeses and red potato Pizza, done on a cracker bread crust with Gorgonzola, Fontina, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheese. This is a pure Italian pizza better than anything this side of the Vatican. Rosa’s offers a full bar so we tried Stacey’s (the best bartender in town) famous martinis. They were a success with all.

We finished with a visit from the chef, Doug as he told proud family stories and the reason why this is the best restaurant on the Central Coast. “Passion, love and family”, it is their mantra and I agree whole-heartedly. The decorations are simple and elegant with meeting rooms for large groups and an enclosed patio for outside dining. With two generations in the kitchen, Rosa's combines the best of old and new world cooking, to create a wonderful full-flavored and astoundingly good menu.

Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano is located at 491 Price Street in Pismo Beach, CA and are open from 11:30-2:00 for lunch everyday but Sunday and 4:00-Close every night for dinners, call for reservations for big groups (805) 773-0551.

Memphis- Eight days, 32 restaurants, 1 Elvis sighting

Traveling is my favorite activity. I would travel non-stop if someone would pay me for reporting on the world. As I write this, I am jet legged, overstuffed, and exhausted from my trip to Memphis, Tennessee. I am also missing Memphis, as the city crawled into a corner of my heart and I do not think it will ever let go. I was visiting Memphis for a Business Brokers Conference where Gary teaches Business Broker Classes and I explain to men with khaki pants and blue collared shirts the power of public relations. Mostly, I ate my way thru the city.

I also wanted to brag and let you know that Gary was named on of the top 10 Business Brokers in California by the International Business Brokers Association. He was recognized for his creative handling of selling, marketing, and outstanding achievement in business closings.

Memphis is known as the home of the blues and the birthplace of Rock and Roll, but by and large for the amazing food, handed down from generation to generation. They specialize in BBQ ribs, fried chicken, catfish, and soul food. I had it all by visiting over 30 restaurants in 8 days. I didn’t have a bad meal, but I am pretty sure I sprained my stomach (and gained 30 pounds).

I fell in love with this city; the people were warm, inviting, and open. It is a city where you can still hear Elvis’s back up band, BB King and Dr. Feel Good Potts play every night on Beale Street for tips. I had tea and listened to amazing stories with Mr. Lansky who was the official costumer for Elvis from 1960 to his death. I met the reverend Al Green at a soul food restaurant, shared my catfish, and went to his Full Gospel service. I met the Mojo Queen of Beale Street and danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly.

I must state again, this was the best food in the world. I went to all the suggested restaurants and the would ask the wait staff and locals where their favorite food was located, which most claimed to be there Grandmothers kitchen. I had the best fried Catfish at Soul Fish and saw the ducks march through the Peabody Hotel. On every corner, in every bar and restaurant there was an incredible blues band that blew your mind. The icons of rock and the founders of the blues were here. You could just go up to them and they would tell you stories of the birth of rock and roll. I spent the day at Graceland and cried like a baby when I came to the King’s tomb as a 5-year-old girl placed a red rose on his grave.

I wish for y’all to experience this amazing living museum of our past with the Mississippi winding by everyday and the ghost of Elvis hanging in each hotel lobby. The best Chicken in the world was at Gus’s. They only served fried chicken, slaw, beans, and home baked pies. It was so good, we ate there for lunch and then again for dinner. The chicken was coated in a spicy, sweet crust, perfectly flash fried in peanut oil that sealed in the moisture. It was perfection. The BBQ ribs were a toss up from five different joints- all amazing, all different with dry rubbed and wet style. Cozy Corner was my favorite (with the best sweet potato pie); Rendezvous had the best dry rubbed with Interstate, Central BBQ, and Blues City Café all with wet and fabulous ribs that will never be forgotten.

The people were amazing, it was like a small town where by the 3rd day of my visit, everyone knew me by name. We spent every night listening to the best live music whether it was in a Juke Joint or in an alley between restaurants. Gary loved the name of the businesses, he thought they were a hoot.

A quick to do list if you are visiting:

My favorite Restaurant for Chicken was Gus Fried Chicken on Third Street down from Beale. Best soul food is Soul Fish on Cooper in Midtown, their catfish was to die for! Best ribs was either at Rendezvous (in the alley across from the Peabody Hotel) or a Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. For the best Memphis homestyle ribs and sweet potato pie, Cozy Corner on N. Parkway and Manassas was out of this world (it is over by the Pyramid).

Best fancy restaurant was Paulettes on Madison- Amazing Popovers and Cajun/Hungarian influenced food.

Things I would defiantly do:

Graceland- Go early, it is not air-conditioned and it is HOT HOT HOT right now and a million people are visitng. The best thing to do is go thru the tour (you get on a bus and they take you across the street to Graceland) and after the meditation Garden, go thru the house again on your own. I got so much more out of it that way. It is $30 for the house and all the smaller museums, but they have a $60 private tour, that I would do if I went back again. It was much more personal and you got a lot more Elvis insights.

Beale Street- Every night (and during the day) the best bands in the world play here, if not in clubs then in the alleys between them. Best bands were at Rum Boogie Cafe and BB Kings. It is also the best people watching place I have been too in a long time. During the day (2 to 5 PM) at Silky Sullivans the Ms. Zeno, the Mojo queen sings and she is so good and a really good time. Tell her Teri said hi! Tater Reds was my favorite weird store, and A. Schwab was like a living museum, must be seen!

Peabody Hotel- each day they march Ducks through the lobby to a fountain and as hooky as it sounds, it was a hoot. I also went to Lansky's which is the men's store in the lobby of the hotel and the owner personally knew Elvis and has great stories to share.

I loved the Rock and Soul Museum, it is right at the end on Beale Street. Most of the guys are stilling playing live on Beale Street.

Best breakfast was a Cupboards on Union and Brother Junipers over by the university.

If you have a rental car, feel free to explore during the day. Memphis has a ring road (240) and no matter you go, you end up on the freeway, so it is impossible to get lost. I spent each day on Beale Street and had no need to go anywhere else.
I loved the riverboat ride (The Memphis Queen) down the Mississippi, but it was HOT. Now I know why southern bells always carry a fan!

Reverend Al Greens Full Gospel church service on Sunday was the highlight of the trip. If you are there on Sunday- try to go. It is past Graceland about 1 mile out in the booneys, but everyone knows it and will give you directions. Services were at 10 am.
If one of you if a treasure hunter, check out the thrift stores. They had things from the Civil war and were selling it for cheap. The people are so nice, I can't say enough about how nice and helpful they were. Have a great time and let me know how you liked it.