When Marina Pacifica’s Forbidden City abruptly closed last winter, it left behind a beautiful, painstakingly designed shell in a beyond-prime location. For eight years, the Asian restaurant had maintained a top spot as one of Long Beach’s chicest eateries. But the space didn’t sit empty for long: Rod Frontino—owner of the recently reopened Dogz Bar—swooped in and introduced the city to Jade a few weeks ago.
With its thoughtfully composed menus and keeping in mind the consistent dish executions of Frontino’s previously mentioned restaurant, expectations for Jade were, well, high.
The restaurant didn’t need any remodeling and remains nearly identical to its ornately decorated predecessor: There’s the massive, carved-jade fountain, as well as the interior Asian statues and lotus pendant lights. The shades are still drawn throughout the afternoon to block the glare of the sun off the water, casting a moody nightclub vibe. The focal point of the eatery—the large, square bar—continues to be crowded, no matter the day or hour.
At Jade, you’ll find a three-hour-long happy hour on weekdays that includes a multi-component bento box, as well as an all-you-can-eat-sushi deal available most weekdays.
The meal the day I visited started off well with one of Jade’s specialty concoctions, the Rasta Roll, which features asparagus, avocado and cucumber wrapped in seaweed, albacore and a lemon-mustard aioli. The sushi roll was cut into perfect one-bite rounds, the albacore was fresh and floral, and the asparagus had a perfect snap.
Jade offers a sweeping selection of sushi and rolls, including such intriguing house specialties as the Ex-Wife (spicy tuna, yellowtail, ponzu, cilantro and soy paper) and the Krazy Kraw (a California roll topped with baked crawfish and a duo of sauces). And the sushi here is without fault: excellent-quality seafood and well-balanced flavors.
The rest of the menu, however, had some hiccups.
Entrée selections are categorized as Birds, From the Sea, Beef and Pork, and From the Land of the USA (i.e., burgers and dogs).
The Land of the USA section offers Asian-fusion nods to Frontino’s successful Dogz (I highly recommend pairing a Chicago dog there with an ice-cold beer). I ordered the Kobe Hot Dog, a plump frank nestled in a grilled, split-top, sweet bun, then drizzled with a soy-ginger glaze, gochujang aioli, crispy garlic bits and heaps of green onions—the only bright note to an enjoyable, though heavy, plate. Each dog or burger comes with a mound of French fries, which the menu states are available in either truffle-garlic-parmesan or Szechaun pepper-and-salt varieties; I asked for one, but got neither. At this point, having flagged down my server once already just to order and determined not to be that customer, I shrugged it off. Plain fries are still fries and therefore perfect on their own.
Our table’s pick of the From the Sea offerings, the miso cod filet, was a substantial portion of soft, moist, white cod chunks topped with a thickened-miso purée. The fish was served over a bed of near-wilted baby corn, mushrooms and carrots in a salty, brown broth. White rice would’ve added some much-needed texture, but that accompaniment never made it to us.
Do come for happy hour or sushi, but maybe wait for Jade to sort itself out with the rest. And be sure to double-check your bill: I was mistakenly charged for an Asian Kobe Street Dog, and thus hit with its $18 price tag, a detail I unfortunately didn’t notice until it was too late. Ouch.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Jade’s Rod Frontino is involved in Panxa Cocina. The Weekly has since learned from Panxa Cocina’s owners that Frontino is not part of the restaurant. The Weekly regrets the error.
Jade, 6380 Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 430-1111; www.jade-restaurant.com.