By Chris Frederking
Ever get tired of doing all the cooking? If so, then Chico’s Rawbar has the cure for what ails you. Guests can expect a unique flavor medley at this amazing restaurant, which has been a favorite with Chico locals for just over a decade. Owners, Darren Chadderdon and Michelle Mazza, have worked hard to create the welcoming atmosphere, and down to every last detail, the Rawbar is a success.I went to the Rawbar, with my photographer/fiancée to see what the buzz was all about. Upon arrival, we were welcomed in by the friendly staff and promptly escorted to the sushi bar. The place was alive, the energy was joyous and we could clearly feel a good time waiting to be had. The style is unique and consistent, and the visual ascetics of the room match the sensory appeal and bold clarity of flavors in the food. Rawbar has found the fine line between classy and casual—they welcome both openly and accommodate everything in between. Known for a variety of house-made goodies (to-die-for, hand-picked ribs; crisp and refreshing hand-crafted sodas; and out-of-this-world, home-crafted ice cream), they leave no desire unfulfilled and no curiosity unexplored. We started the evening with their home crafted sodas, ginger for myself, and a lemongrass & mint soda for my fiancée. Each was smooth and refreshing, quenching the heat and our hunger, while opening our palates for the spectacular meal to come.Allison Sonberg (our server at the beginning—our friend by the end), said she loves her job because the owners are, “good people to work for, and we make really good food.” I couldn’t agree more. Each staff member we interacted with (from Allison to Trav Gibbson, our talented and personable sushi chef) was upbeat, kind, and genuine.Appetizers here are no disappointment. We tried the Warm Shrimp Lettuce Wraps; they were crisp and fresh. The flavor started with a nicehint-of-mint and ended with a tasteful, spice-filled finish. I suggest trying the lettuce wraps with a bowl of the Miso soup, which boasts roast shiitake mushrooms, Napa cabbage, spring onions, and clarified citrus oil—creating a robust new spin on a classic traditional creation. No soup for you? Then the Shaka Tuna, an appetizer that is as equally good on the eyes as it is on the stomach, should do the trick. This mouth-watering appetizer features tender, soy chili and sesame marinated, ahi layered on a wonton chip that floats on a crisp bed of daikon, carrots, and cucumber, all topped with sesame seeds and pickled onions—wow. It was so good; I had to literally resist licking the plate! The sopes (we tried the Korean Beef) are delicious. Rawbar’s fresh, homemade sope dough lays on a vibrant cilantro and citrus garnish topped with sensational beef, and the nice bit of “kick” really gets your senses going. The flavor really evolves in your mouth; this dish is a well-balanced expression of taste, good from the very beginning to end. In addition, Rawbar offer a vast variety of sushi rolls, an impressive selection of cocktails, and about nine kinds of sake.If you aren’t into the whole “raw food” thing, don’t let the name mislead you because Rawbar offers a plethora of fully cooked rolls and taste teasers as well. For those who want “cooked,” without sacrificing the authentic sushi flavor, the Bay Roll will not let you down. Simple in all the right ways, this roll is a safe bet. If you want a bit more flare, then bite into the Crusty Roll. This delight is sweet with a subtle crunch; it’s so good you might just need a second, or a third! Like soft shelled Crab? Try the Black Widow: tare sauce, black and red tobiko, crisp carrots, exceptional crab, and remarkable presentation.
If there is even the smallest gap left inside your (by now contented) belly, then get ready for the most delectable plate of dessert I have yet to experience: Banana Tempura. The vision and scent hit you first, as you slowly salivate before even picking up your utensil. This mouth-watering dessert is a true treat; the chocolate and caramel syrup base, light whipped cream, homemade vanilla ice cream, and a garnish of mint and raspberries melt in your mouth. Of the fireworks display that is eating at Rawbar, this is the grand finale. From supreme casual to classy, first date or 50th anniversary, a time for the whole family or a time for just you—Rawbar is sweet to the very last bite.
If you want to create your own Rawbar experience, visit them at 346 Broadway St., Chico, CA 95928, or call (530)897-0626. Tell them Chris sent you, and then tell your friends. www.rawbarchico.com. Menu