Bring the gang to hang at Bang Bang!

By Kelley Carlson

Where in San Diego can a person dance the night away under one of the largest disco balls on the West Coast, sample Asian street fare and find images of actor Ryan Gosling all over a bathroom stall? Bang Bang.

The “RGT” (Rosemary, Garlic, Tuna) Roll includes spicy tuna, cucumber, ahi tuna, ponzu, rosemary garlic oil, cilantro, pistachio and garlic chips. PHOTOS by Kelley Carlson

Open since July in the Gaslamp Quarter, this social destination – a collaboration between El Camino Little Italy owner Mauricio Couturier and Voyeur co-founder/partner Johnny Shockey — is an all-encompassing experience, from the ambience to the food. The scene is relaxed when the doors open at 5 p.m., but once the doorman arrives around 9 p.m., it begins its transformation into a thriving nightclub.

Guests enter Bang Bang by ascending a tunneled staircase that is evocative of a Tokyo subway, complete with sound effects. (An elevator is available for the physically challenged.)
Those who desire a sit-down experience meander into the main dining room, which softly glows with oversized Japanese lanterns and color-projected anime characters. Along one of the walls is a full-service bar that offers sake and specialty cocktails, Flaming Punch bowls for sharing, beer and wine.

The action is a bit more lively in the sushi room. With only 22 seats in the dragon-themed space, it’s easy for customers and chefs to develop a rapport. As the chefs quickly slice and dice their way through sashimi and sushi rolls, “we provide a nice little show they (the guests) can watch,” said Chef Kappa, who heads the sushi kitchen.

During the late-night hours, pulsating music from the theater draws the dancers, as DJs spin club and techno tunes Thursdays through Saturdays, and a 5 1/2-foot-wide disco ball projects multicolored spots of light in every direction.

Guests enter Bang Bang by ascending a tunneled staircase that is evocative of a Tokyo subway, complete with sound effects.

Even the pop-culture-themed bathrooms in Bang Bang pique interest. The men’s room has stalls decorated with Godzilla, Bruce Lee and Voltron; in the ladies room, the decor ranges from fortune cookies and Hello Kitty to Gosling.

When it comes to the fare, Bang Bang operates two kitchens, each delivering unique dishes. “Come open-minded,” Kappa advised.

The fish selection at the sushi bar is “at the top of the class, from all around the world,” the chef touted, and it’s obvious in items such as the Chef’s Sashimi Platter. Kappa and his crew often cure the seafood to bring out the rich flavors.

Traditional and specialty rolls are available, including the “RGT” (Rosemary, Garlic, Tuna) Roll, which includes spicy tuna, cucumber, ahi tuna, ponzu, rosemary garlic oil, cilantro, pistachio and garlic chips; and of course, there’s a spicy Gosling Roll, with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, jalapeño, yellowtail and chili aioli.

When the new menu debuts this month, it will also include a Hello Kitty Roll, wrapped up in pink soy paper with tiny bay scallops on top, which is “cute and unique for the ladies to enjoy,” Kappa said; and an updated version of the Bang Bang Roll, containing deep-fried asparagus, real crab, avocado, seared salmon with jalapeño, and a spicy ponzu pico de gallo on top.

On Sundays, customers can go with the “Chef’s Choice,” and weekly sushi specials are ongoing.

From the hot kitchen, Executive Chef Jose Ruigomez showcases playful Asian fusion food. One example is the Ahi Poke & Ice Cream Salad, a mixture of arugula, wakame, avocado, cherry tomatoes, scallions, carrots, daikon and cilantro that is topped with pieces of ahi poke, a dollop of sushi rice ice cream and crispy nori seaweed, and served with miso dressing.
Ruigomez also enjoys incorporating pastry techniques into his creations, after recently returning from an intensive yearlong cooking course in Spain. And while guests can sit in the main dining and sushi rooms without paying a cover charge, occasionally there are events in the theater that are ticketed, and the cost varies.

The 21-piece Chef’s Sashimi Platter.

Bang Bang

Address: 526 Market St., San Diego

Phone: (619) 677-2264

The Vibe: Trendy, social, kitschy
Signature Dishes: Sushi Rice Ice Cream Salad, Ninja Cake
Open Since: 2013
Reservations: No
Patio Seating: No
Takeout: Yes
Happy Hour: Yes; 5 to 7 p.m. daily, all night Tuesdays, 10 p.m. to close Sundays

Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Sunday, Closed Monday

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: Bang Bang’s Crispy Kale, Orange and Grapefruit Salad

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  4. Dinner at The Public House in La Jolla is always good for what’s ale-ing you
  5. At Bertrand at Mister A’s in San Diego, the fare steps up to the view

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Posted by Staff on Nov 11, 2013. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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